Imagine views like this from your hotel window (Photo: Trey Radcliff/Flickr)
How do you top the experience of seeing a glacier up close and personal? By staying at one, of course!
A handful of Mother Nature’s massive, and now endangered, bodies of ice are also home to hotels and lodges where you can reside at a one-of-a-kind abode with an unbeatable view. And since glaciers occupy only 10 percent of the earth’s total land area, these awe-inspiring accommodations can also add “exclusive” to their list.
Just close your eyes and picture one of the Ice-Age remnants leering outside your window as it amazes you with a sky-high icefall cascading down to a glistening body of water below. Or, pick from our list here and set out to see the real thing.
The rustic Many Glacier Hotel (Photo: Brian and Jaclyn Drum/Flickr)
Many Glacier Hotel
Glacier National Park – Montana, United States
When this park was first established in 1850, about 150 glaciers gleamed throughout the one million acres of land. Now, only 25 glaciers remain. And thanks to the effects of climate change, experts fear some of the park’s largest glaciers could disappear entirely by 2030. Before the glacier views disappear, check in to the Many Glacier Hotel, which is located inside Glacier National Park. The quaint, Swiss-themed hotel offers 208 rooms and pristine panoramic views of the neighboring mountains and Swiftcurrent Lake that envelope this rustic lodge. Right outside your door are trails and a ferry to transport you to the trailhead, as well as an abundance of wandering wildlife. Watch out for bears!
The enormous Aletsch Glacier (Photo: Daniel Pfund/Flickr)
Art Furrer Hotels
Aletsch Glacier – Valais, Switzerland
The largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier is enormous in every sense of the word. Declared the first natural heritage site in Switzerland in 2001, the 14-mile glacial landscape is a must-do descent. From the Art Furrer Valais hotels you can practically hit the slopes the moment you get out of bed. In winter, plan that Swiss ski holiday (snow is guaranteed!) and in summer, bask in the same views while embarking on a three-lake hike or teeing up on a nine-hole golf course.
100 years of offering great glacier experiences; the Estancia Cristina gives you a view of South America’s biggest glacier (Photo: Estancia Cristina Lodge)
Related: Dreamy Hotels Worth a Detour
Estancia Cristina Lodge
Upsala Glacier – Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Los Glaciares National Park houses three major glaciers, including Perito Moreno and Upsala — South America’s largest glacier where crystal-blue ice walls tower before the Argentinian mountains. The Estancia Cristina, which was established by pioneers in 1914, offers excursions to Upsala via land and water. Navigate the icebergs as you sail through Lake Argentino towards the western front of the Upsala, hop in an all-terrain 4x4 vehicle once on land to reach the eastern front and then embark on a 30-minute guided walk over glacier erosion. By the time you return to the lodge, your gourmet Patagonian-style dinner will be very well deserved.
Relax and check out the glacier action at the back deck of the Hosteria Los Notros (Photo: Hosteria Los Notros)
Hosteria Los Notros
Perito Moreno Glacier – Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Return to Los Glaciares National Park with a different glacial view, this time of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Situated in front of the glacier, Hosteria Los Notros offers an intimate stay and a perfect vantage point for one unforgettable sunset. Once the sun goes down, candles signal the start of Happy Hour, where you can sip from a collection of 150 Argentinian wines. If that lands too leisurely on your activities wheel, take one of the hotel’s excursions to Perito Moreno where you can head out on a three-hour Big-Ice glacial climb, mini-trek around the lagoons, gullies and crevices of the icy landscape, or set out on a nautical safari and get a front-row seat to the booming noise of constant falling ice.
This is the best (and only) choice in Glacier Bay National Park (Photo: Visit Glacier Bay)
Glacier Bay Lodge
Margerie Glacier – Glacier Bay, Alaska
Despite its detachment from neighboring glacier Grand Pacific, Margerie Glacier, a tidewater glacier situated in the Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve, remains stable amid many receding glaciers in the park. Now dubbed a “hanging glacier,” Margerie is also known for its jagged and twisty shape, and it’s a site worth seeing. The park’s lone hotel, Glacier Bay Lodge, also has an isolated feel, since it’s situated under spruce trees like a massive treehouse. The cozy cabin boasts meals of fresh-caught local seafood and offers an eight-hour cruise (from May 26 through Sept. 1) where travelers can come face-to-face with Margerie and actually watch the ice break off the glacier.
The Hotel Glacier used to be a school. It makes the grade, but be sure you get one of the rooms with a bathroom (Photo: Hotel Glacier)
Vatnajökull Glacier – Vatnajökull, Iceland
Not only is Vatnajökull the largest Icelandic glacier, it also has quite the impressive IMDB profile: the site starred in the opening action scene for the 1985 James Bond movie A View to Kill and was featured in the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. From the many windows of the Hotel Glacier, you can catch a glimpse of this Hollywood-friendly ice mass. Previously a public school, the newly renovated and family-run spot now has a more modern feel, but held on to the classroom-style ceiling windows and elementary twin beds (Note: some of the rooms have shared bathrooms). Still, the location amid this natural scenery can’t be beat and with the nearby activities (boat trips on the glacial lagoon, anyone?) you’ll be sure to give this school-turned-hotel an “A.”
Ski slopes surrounding Club Med Tignes Val Claret (Photo: Club Med)
Club Med Tignes Val Claret
The Grand Motte Glacier – Tignes, France
The Grand Motte Glacier is the site for the popular Tignes ski resort, which operates mostly year-round (the glacier’s receding in recent years now has the resort closing its doors for a few weeks throughout the year) and from June 21 through Aug. 3, you can actually ski in your bikini! Summer on the glacier can also include a dip in the Lagoon swimming pool or a tan on the terrace of the Panoramic restaurant. When it’s time to pack up your boots, another resort sits at the foot of the glacial mountain. Après-ski awaits at the Club Med oasis, The Tignes Val Claret, and its 24/7 bar and luxurious fireplace lounge. Adults, kids, beginners and pro skiers alike have an array of packages to pick from before hitting the slopes, and the indoor pool and spa offers just as enticing a menu when you need to relax and reboot before your next Moscow Mule.
Austria’s Hotel Kaprunerhof is a spot for year-round enjoyment (Photo: Hotel Kaprunerhof)
Kitzsteinhorn Glacier – Salzburg, Austria
Another site for year-round enjoyment, the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier beckons hikers, cyclers, skiers and snowboarders alike to tackle its terrain. In Hohe Tauern National Park and 10,000 feet above sea level, the ice on this impressive glacier remains solid even during the summer months. Twice a day, join a free guided hiking tour offering scenic mountain views and definitely top off your day with… well, a visit to the top. Chow down at the sky-high Gipfel Restaurant and then head over to The Ice Arena, where snow slides, a snow beach and an ice bar are ready to entertain on the plateau of the glacier. At the foot of the Kitzsteinhorn, check in to Hotel Kaprunerhof, which promises to enhance your vacation stay by not letting you lift a finger. Sleep easy in the Alpine rooms that have an old-wood scent and comfortable cottage style. Whether you’re a couple, single or a family, this hotel has pretty much taken care of everything.
Cross country skiers at Hotel La Torretta (Photo: Hotel La Torreta)
Hotel La Torretta
Adamello Glacier – Adamello Brenta Nature Park, Passo Tonale, Italy
The Adamello-Brenta Nature Park is home to the Adamello and Brenta mountainous groups as well as the Adamello Glacier, which is one of the largest glaciers in Europe. Hotel La Torretta is in the heart of the park and boasts an authentic mountain atmosphere. The family-run and relaxing locale is big on hospitality, but even bigger on encouraging sports fanatics to take advantage of the nearby ski slopes and snowpark and more extreme snowmobiling, ice climbing and snowkiting outings. The hotel also offers excursions to the Presena Glacier, which is home to the spring ski-friendly Presena Ski resort.