Village Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
If your idea of comfort is to bundle up in thermal underwear and jump into a sleeping bag, then book a stay at this igloo hotel, which is kept at –5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). Don’t worry, though; you won’t freeze. When you check in you receive a full set of winter clothes. And anyway, every bit of chilliness is worth it: The entire hotel—including the reception desk, chandeliers, chairs, sculptures, and rooms—is made of ice. Built from scratch each year, the resort requires 30,000 cubic meters (40,000 cubic yards) of snow and 2,000 tons of ice from the nearby, frozen Torne River. During the day, be sure to pull yourself away from dogsledding for a field trip to the Esrange Space Centre, where scientists study the northern lights. Later, look into the night sky and see the lights yourself, then end the evening with a drink in the hotel’s Absolut Icebar. The next morning, spend a quiet moment in the spectacular Ice Church.
Jules Undersea Lodge
Key Largo, Florida
To reach the lobby of this small underwater hotel, you have to scuba dive 21 feet straight down. If you don’t know how, an instructor will teach you; then suddenly you’re in mangrove heaven. Formerly a research lab, this lodge is now available to anyone wanting to live out their underwater fantasy. The sea-bottom resort has two cozy bedrooms resembling cruise-ship cabins. If you feel claustrophobic, just look out of the 42-inch windows to watch the fish swim by. For those certified at scuba, the hotel offers unlimited diving. If it’s luxury you need, wait until the 2009 opening of the Hydropolis, a hotel 66 feet under the Persian Gulf off the coast of Dubai. It will feature plusher cabins, along with a marine biology lab. By the time you check out, you’ll feel like Jacques Cousteau.
Costa Brava, Spain
Restaurant magazine calls this science-based restaurant the best in the world. But it’s open only six months each year, because chef Ferran Adrià Acosta spends the other half year traveling to research his innovative cuisine. Once home, he tests his concoctions in a Barcelona laboratory, because his vaunted epicurean magic is really no magic at all—it’s all science. He employs molecular gastronomy to play with temperature, texture, and taste. Without a doubt this renowned chef, who has written extensively about the philosophy of food and published a series of cookbooks, is challenging our concept of taste. El Bulli’s menu features dishes such as salty ice cream, liquid olive, and a pistachio truffle cooled with liquid nitrogen.
Kannapolis, North Carolina
Named for the number of chromosomes in the human body, this restaurant carries the science theme to an extreme: Wall art includes chemical symbols for the likes of chocolate and caffeine, and lab beakers serve as vases. It’s no surprise that this upscale restaurant, located across from the North Carolina Research Campus, attracts scientists from the surrounding universities. Buy your date a Blinded Me With Science cocktail, and try the Peach-tri Dish Martini for yourself. And take note: The girls’ room is marked XX and the guys’ is XY.