Hotel of Ice Highlights

Nestled between the icy peaks of the Fagaras Mountains and veiled by clouds, the remote Ice Hotel stands 2000m above sea level and can only be accessed via cable car. Each winter, once the Balea Lake freezes over, the locals cut and drag blocks of the icy lake to the location of the hotel, which is set against a magnificent backdrop. Hand carved by local craftsmen using traditional techniques, the frozen Balea Lake is transformed into the beautifully intricate structures of the Ice Hotel and its magical Ice Church, the theme of which changes each and every year.

5. The Journey

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “its the not the destination, it’s the journey” and in spite of the destination on our Ice Hotel Experience being the once-in-a-lifetime stay in the Hotel of Ice, one could argue the journey to get there is just as spectacular. Arriving in Bucharest, journeying through the snow-capped mountains of the Carpathians into the beautiful Transylvania, home to the legend of Dracula and colourful medieval old towns. After an overnight stay in the charming town of Brasov you’ll head towards the remote area of the Hotel of Ice where you’ll start your drive up the famous Transfagaran road, which Jeremy Clarkson labelled the best round in the world! However, as it’s winter you’ll only have the opportunity to experience the start before the final leg of your journey, a 15 minute cable car, up to over 2000m where, weather permitting you’ll see the breathtaking setting for Hotel of Ice in a basin surrounded my snow-capped peaks. Truly unforgettable!

4. The Winter Park

The Winter Park at Balea Lake is offers an array of snow activities in an incredibly picturesque setting from racing a friend around the mountain basin on this zippy snow bike or sharing a ride with your partner to bouncing down the slopes on a rubber ring for a modern twist on the good old fashioned sledging. For those looking for something a little less adrenaline filled then why not join the tunnel trek excursion through to the other side of the mountain and enjoy a nice warm drink while taking in the spectacular views. We recommend booking activities in advance to avoid disappointment. Should the weather not be on your side then you’ll find plenty of indoor games to keep you occupied and of course there is always the bar!

3. The Local Firewater

A bar with a difference… not only is it situated at over 2,000 metres in the remote Transylvanian Alps but it’s also made entirely of ice. From the bar itself to the fur-covered stools and even the glasses, everything is frosty, frozen and ice cold. While you’re here you absolutely have to have at least one drink at the Ice Hotel’s Sub Zero Ice Bar. In fact, it’s probably the best way to warm up! Indulge in one of the bar’s famous super-sweet cocktails that’ll make your teeth ache or take the Palinka Challenge and see if you can down a shot of Romania’s national firewater from a frozen shot glass in one go without pulling a face! It’s harder than you think. Drinks at the Sub Zero Ice Bar are the perfect way to kick off a magical evening at the Ice Hotel. Take if from us, the more Palinka you have, the sounder you sleep!

2. The Ice Hotel Dinner

Set within the magical setting of the Ice Hotel’s main hall with its frozen vaulted ceiling and kaleidoscopic glowing lights, you’ll be seated at your very own ice table on frozen chairs topped with fuzzy-fur cushions for an unforgettable four- course dinner. There are additional wool blankets available should you feel chilly between courses although most diners choose to warm up with a brisk dance or a shot at the Sub Zero Ice Bar! On our last visit, the evening kicks off with a complimentary drink followed by a starter of salmon tartar and caviar with a citrus zest served on a slate of ice. You’ll then enjoy a creamy carrot soup topped with crunchy croutons. Afterwards, tuck into tender pork sirloin wrapped in parma ham with a rich mushroom and rosemary sauce and a trio of vegetables. Last but not least, you’ll be treated to a traditional dessert.

The Ice Restaurant also offers an alternative menu for vegetarians and children, and caters for special dietary requirements and allergies. While the cost might be more than you’d pay throughout the rest of Romania, the fairytale setting, fantastic food and surreal atmosphere more than justify the extra pennies. Did we mention you’re also eating in a restaurant made of ice?! However, with limited tables available you’ll need to reserve your spot in advance.

1. The Ice Hotel Room

Now for the main highlight, the reason everyone travels to the Hotel of Ice, an overnight stay in one of the Ice rooms. Although temperatures in the Ice Hotel typically waver between -2 and +2 degrees, guests find themselves enjoying a surprisingly cosy night’s sleep, particularly those who have indulged in a nightcap before bed. Ice beds are covered with insulating fur then topped with mattresses for extra comfort. They also have coloured lights embedded into the ice creating a stunning, magical atmosphere when lit up at night. Bedding, further furs and specialist sleeping bags are all provided with storage and bathroom facilities located nearby in the Balea Lake Chalet. With beautifully lit bedrooms carved from ice no two rooms are the same but will always feature ornately carved statues, and impressive sculptures. For something extra special you can even choose to sleep in your very own igloo which are larger than the standard ice rooms and based away from the main hotel making them more private and exclusive.

For further information on our 4-night Ice Hotel Experience or longer 7-night Winter Transylvania and Ice Hotel Ski Experiences then please refer to our website or get in touch on info@untravelledpaths.com.

Written by Marion Poerio & James Chisnall, Untravelled Paths