Dinner at the ICEHOTEL was revelatory. Chef Alexander Meier (who is nothing short of a genius in the kitchen) served us dishes made of local ingredients like shiitake mushrooms grown in the iron ore mines of Kiruna, reindeer (it tastes kind of like steak, but leaner? And not the slightest bit gamey), and delicious desserts including creme brulee with a lavender sugar crust and vanilla ice cream covered in cloudberry sauce (cloudberries are a slightly tart fruit native to Sweden) served in a bowl made of, what else?, ice.
After dinner we had a little down time (I barreled through another 50 pages of my guilty plesaure of the trip -- Kitty Kelley's biography of Oprah) before meeting up at 11:30pm to drive golf cart-esque vehicles through the woods to see the Midnight Sun. When we reached a cliff overlooking a valley at just after midnight, we were shocked (and delighted) to see that it still was just as sunny as it would be at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Happily covered in mud, we drove back to the ICEHOTEL, picked up our heavy-duty sleeping bags, and got ready for bed. Our rooms consisted of slabs of ice covered in reindeer pelts and, as you can probably imagine, it was cold. We all woke up in the morning trying to shake strange dreams from our heads (Managing Editor Jessanne Collins dreamed that Photo Director Annie Chia and I got married and I dreamed that Kristen Wiig was pouring lemonade all over her body while repeatedly saying "I'm a wet little pony!") but we emerged otherwise unscathed and agreed it was one of the coolest experiences of our lives (no pun intended).
After a delicious breakfast, again courtesy of Chef Alex (waffles with cloudberry sauce and Swedish meatballs!), we headed back into the ICEHOTEL to give ice carving a go (needless to say, none of us were very good at it) and then toured the production studio where the ice is made and stored.
I wish I could fully relay just how ridiculously fun our trip to the ICEHOTEL was (it was one of the most incredible days and nights of my life -- and trust me -- I don't say that kind of thing often or easily), but it's just not possible. So, instead, you should head over to the official ICEHOTEL site where you can read a thorough history and find out how they manage to do exactly what they do -- and then you should plan your own visit to the ICEHOTEL. You can even apply to be one of the lucky artists who designs and creates an ICEHOTEL suite in the 2011/2012 ICEHOTEL.
Stay tuned for more Out Goes To Sweden coming soon!
-- NOAH MICHELSON
All photos by Sarah Olin