Visit the site of the Whitepod ski resort in the Swiss Alps between April and November and what you’ll see of it is . . . nothing.
You’ll see no roads. No electrical wires. No place to stay. Just a 19th century farmhouse and a pristine alpine meadow that’s begging for some von Trapp kids to twirl around in it Sound Of Music style. The views of the snow peaks from this place 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above the oceans might be the grandest untouched mountain vista in Europe. “Untouched” being the key word.
You may before have ordered a vodka on the rocks. Well, how about a vodka in the rocks? That’s on offer at what’s literally the coolest drinking establishment in Orlando: the ICEBAR.
Long time readers of the Spot Cool Stuff travel blog already know of the Orlando ICEBAR—we reviewed this bar with the overly-capitalized name in our article about ice bars located in warm places. Inside the ICEBAR 50 tons of ice are carved into counters, lounge chairs and, yes, even the glasses patrons drink out of.
Before and since our visit there we’ve heard mixed reports about it from readers. And so here’s some advice to those considering knocking back a cold one at the ICEBAR when in Orlando.
Two phrases sum up Harbin China’s Snow & Ice Festival: Wow and I can’t feel my toes.
Each year the far northeast of China the city of Harbin holds this famous winter festival. Artisans from all over the globe come to carve gargantuan works of art out of blocks of ice and mountains of snow. The theme of the festival changes yearly but, no matter the theme, the sculptures will have you ohhing and awwing.
At almost any bar in the world you can get a drink with ice. At a few you can get a drink in ice. While sitting on seats made of ice. At a table made of ice. Surrounded by walls made of ice.
The concept of the ice bar originated, logically enough, in Sweden where both water and freezing temperatures are abundant. These icy drinking establishments soon became popular around Scandinavia, partly because they combined two elements Scandinavians tend to embrace (cold and alcohol) and partly because these bars’ LED lighting, artworks of frozen water and and intimate settings made them great places to chill out. (Pun. Sorry.)
Today, there are more than two dozen ice bars around the globe including ones in Amsterdam, London, Poland, Canada and Alaska. Not all of these frozen saloons are in places with cold climes. Hence this Spot Cool Stuff overview of ice bars in warm places.
For the purposes of this review, a “warm place” is anywhere it doesn’t snow in the winter and regularly gets hot in the summer. So, the ice bar in Beijing doesn’t count. The one in Shanghai would have had it not recently closed.
All of the selections on this list, like most of the ice bars anywhere, charge an entrance fee to get in. Usually this fee includes one free drink and use of cold-weather clothing that is designed as much to protect patrons from the bar’s sub-freezing temperatures as it is to protect the bar itself from the patrons’ body heat. To help keep their establishments below freezing, ice bars also have strict limits on the number of people allowed in.
And with that, let’s kick back with a cold one and tour the world’s ice bars in warm places . . .
Where else would the first permanent ice lounge in the United States be located but in the middle of a hot desert?
The new Minus 5 Ice Lounge, adjacent to the Mandalay Bay Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, is 2,000 square feet of frigid wonderland complete with an ice bar, ice sofas, an ice chandelier and an ice Elvis sculpture. Guests needn’t bring their own winter wear for the occasion—each is provided with parkas and boots to keep warm while they chill with their friends.
Admission is $30 though that includes a complimentary vodka cocktail. (No reason to order that drink on the rocks because, like nearly everything else at the Minus 5 Lounge, the glasses are made of ice). Accompanied minors are allowed inside too. Just make sure they don’t stick their tongues, well, anything.
Related Post: Ice Bars In Warm Places
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New to Moscow’s Krasnaya Presnya park: the world’s first ice sculpture gallery. This might also be the world’s coldest museum—the frozen exhibits here are kept at -10C (14F).
Visitors to the gallery are given special coat to wear that looks like a cross between an Eskimo’s parka and an alien costume from a low budget horror movie (see photos after the jump). The coats are partially to keep you warm (and looking ridiculous) but also to keep your body temperature from melting the displays. Even with the coats, to keep the temperature constant only ten visitors are allowed in the gallery at a time. The ice displays are open year round, making the ice sculptures in Krasnaya Presnya park a good place to cool off in the summer . . . or warm up in the Moscow winter. Entrance is 350 rubles (about $14, €9).
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