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Courtesy of Robert Sveinn Robertsson
Courtesy of Robert Sveinn Robertsson

Go Inside Iceland's New Inflatable “Bubble Hotel”

Courtesy of Robert Sveinn Robertsson
Courtesy of Robert Sveinn Robertsson

There’s camping, glamping, and now, in a forest just outside Iceland’s popular Golden Circle, there’s an unusual, inflatable mix of the two: bubble-ing.

The new Aurora Bubble Hotel, a clear, inflatable plastic “bedroom,” is the brainchild of Iceland native and Northern Lights expert Robert Sveinn Robertsson. The concept started when Robertsson was advising a customer on his Northern Lights expedition. In passing, the customer suggested he create a clear-ceiling hotel for sleeping under the aurora borealis, and Robertsson quickly turned this recommendation into action. In January of this year, the initial “Bubble” was born.

Courtesy of Robert Sveinn Robertsson

At first glance, the Aurora Bubble Hotel is a cross between a heated igloo and a bouncy house. The Bubble stays inflated with a noiseless ventilation system that continuously refreshes the air to prevent humidity and adjust the temperature based on thermostat settings. If punctured, the Bubble will slowly deflate, but it has a thin metal frame to support the walls until it’s repaired.

Inside, there’s room for one full bed, one night lamp, two small suitcases, and … that’s about it. To provide guests with a sense of privacy—which is important, given its clear plastic walls—the Bubble is located on a remote farm near a town called Reykholt. Its exact location is only shared with Bubble Hotel guests; it’s not listed on the hotel's website.

Because of the relatively tight quarters, there’s no bathroom inside the actual Bubble. Instead, when nature calls, guests use an outhouse with an upscale portable toilet several feet away. Bathing-wise, guests shower at the nearby Secret Lagoon, a remote geyser-powered hot spring that gives the country's more famous Blue Lagoon a run for its money.

Stephanie Vermillion

Off-site showers. Outhouse in the woods. Secret locations. That’s a lot of work just to sleep in a plastic bubble, isn’t it?

Actually, no. These few small inconveniences aren’t deterring travelers who are willing to put in a little extra effort to sleep with a stunning view. The Aurora Bubble Hotel is booked almost entirely through May (at roughly $225 a night), and Robertsson has seen such great demand, he’s opening two more Bubbles this July. The new units will be larger, with room for a table and two chairs. Robertsson is also building an on-site shower.

This month, my boyfriend and I were among the Bubble Hotel’s first guests during a stop on our road trip through Iceland. Even with a little skepticism, the inside was much cozier than we anticipated, which made for a perfect night of stargazing and, for a brief two minutes, watching the Northern Lights.

Stephanie Vermillion

As you’d imagine, sleeping in a clear, inflatable Bubble is a little unsettling. At any moment you could wake up to a person or animal (or heck, even an elf—this is Iceland after all!) staring at you through the thin plastic walls. But fortunately, Robertsson's secrecy and covert directions made sure that wasn't the case. The only visitors we had were up-and-at-’em birds that awakened us from a surprisingly restful sleep.

Whether it’s Aurora chasing in the winter or stargazing in the summer, the Bubble Hotel is an unusual, year-round option for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. And even if the stars don't cooperate, you’ll have quite the Icelandic tale to tell.

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Move Over, Hygge: Còsagach Is How You Get Cozy In Scotland
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Hygge, a concept related to the warm, contented feeling of being indoors during wintertime, originated in Denmark. But Scotland has made it clear that Danes don’t have a monopoly on coziness. As The Scotsman reports, VisitScotland—the country's national tourism agency—is reviving Còsagach, an old Gaelic term that could unseat the hygge trend this season.

Còsagach, like hygge, is the sensation you get when you’re snug, sheltered, and cozy. According to VisitScotland, Scotland is a popular destination for tourists looking to unwind, and the organization predicts that Còsagach will be a hot trend with visitors in 2018.

“It’s no secret that Scotland can have, at times, rather harsh and ferocious weather,” the trend forecast from the company’s insight department [PDF] notes. “In the winter when the storms rage and the waves crash against the rocks, there is nothing more satisfying than being curled up in front of the fire, book and hot toddy in hand, listening to the weather outside.”

However, you don’t need to be under a blanket at home to properly experience Còsagach. The comforting feeling can be found almost anywhere—at a restaurant, ski resort, or, in true Scottish tradition, a pub. And though it is a great antidote to winter blues, VisitScotland emphasizes that it’s not exclusive to any one season.

Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Scotland in the near future, there are ways to incorporate Còsagach into your routine. Try repurposing some of the activities associated with hygge—just don’t tell your Scottish friends where you got your inspiration.

[h/t The Scotsman]

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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