There’s no shortage of unique hotels in Japan. Aside from the well-known capsule hotels and love hotels, there’s Gundam and Hello Kitty hotels, a toilet hotel, a so-cheap-it’s-scary hotel, and much more.
But the latest hotel that just opened up in Hokkaido is definitely the coolest of them all. It’s a hotel made entirely of snow and ice where you can spend the night in below-freezing temperatures!
The ice hotel is part of Ice Village, a sort of snowy theme park located in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, a resort mostly made up of other, non-frozen, hotel rooms. It’s a popular place to stay while on vacation in Hokkaido, so that kids or anyone else who doesn’t want to go skiing or sightseeing still have plenty to do.
It’s been four years since the ice hotel was last open, and it’s easy to see why. The building is a 10-meter (32 feet) diameter dome whose entire interior and exterior is made exclusively out of snow and ice. The website advertises that you can “enjoy a quiet winter evening alone in negative three to seven degrees Celsius (19 to 26 degrees Fahrenheit).”
Of course the hotel gives you some ways to stay warm, too. Before bed you get your choice of mulled wine or hot apple juice, and after you wake up you get either hot coffee or corn soup. And… that’s about it. No smoking or heating devices are allowed either, for fear of melting the whole place down.
When it comes time to sleep, guests are provided with a thermal sleeping bag and pajamas which keep them warm in conditions up to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrehneit). That’ll come in handy when you have to walk two minutes outside to the nearest restroom, since there’s no bathroom inside the one-room hotel. Also there’s no room service, no bath/shower, and hotel staff won’t come to check on you unless you contact them first, so if you freeze to death, you’re stuck like that until morning.
▼ “Oh good, the coffee’s arrived.”
You may think that’s a bit silly, but the website does actually carry a somewhat cryptic warning which reads: “Please be careful not to drink too much alcohol for fear of freezing to death.” Because apparently that is a thing.
So what do you think? Is spending a night inside an ice palace just like Elsa’s worth the reality of spending a night inside an ice palace? It may certainly make for an interesting experience, but I think if I have to stay at a hotel in Hokkaido, I’ll go for the one that has its own hot spring and all-you-can-eat buffet.
Location: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Open: 1/9 to 2/28
Check-in/out: 11:00 p.m. / 8:00 a.m. (the following day)
Cost: 20,000 yen (US$168) per person, limit 2 people