14 of the World’s Coolest Ice Bars
If the summer heat just doesn't seem to be going away, and air conditioning isn't cutting it—or if you simply can’t wait another few months for the freezing cold temperatures of winter—you may be cheered by the prospect of retreating to a bar made of ice for a stiff drink served in a cocktail glass, also carved out of ice—even while humiliatingly dressed in a thermal coat and gloves worn by who knows how many previous patrons. Ice bars are not new—the first one opened in the 1990s, but their novelty shows no sign of wearing thin, so these themed bars have multiplied across the globe, popping up in destinations both hot (Miami) and cold (Alaska). Here are 14 of our favorites.
1. ICEBAR // JUKKASJÃRVI, SWEDEN
Jukkasjãrvi, above the Arctic Circle in the far north of Sweden, is where the mania for ice-based hospitality was born. ICEHOTEL, the world’s very first ice hotel, was founded here in 1989 and is rebuilt every year from snow and ice from a nearby river. The hotel’s ICEBAR was launched in 1994 and, like the hotel, is designed and built by a different artist each year.
2. ICE BAR // SINETTÄ, LAPLAND, FINLAND
At similarly high latitude, in Finnish Lapland, the Arctic SnowHotel offers its own version of the ice bar. The essential elements are the same—drinks served in ice glasses, on ice tables, while sitting on reindeer pelt-topped ice chairs. The hotel also offers glass igloos, perfect for Northern Lights spotting. But even if you're not staying overnight, you can visit the ice bar as part of a day visit.
3. HÔTEL DE GLACE ICE BAR // QUEBEC, CANADA
Quebec’s Hôtel de Glace also allows curious visitors to partake in drinks at its artfully sculpted ice bar without spending the night in the ice hotel. Being located not quite so far north, Hôtel de Glace has a shorter life than its Nordic relations, opening only from January through March, though this time frame is perfect for a visit to coincide with the Quebec Winter Carnival.
Not all ice bars are located in ice hotels. Ice Kube Bar is part of what is otherwise a quite a normal, if trendy, hotel in central Paris. With its chic design, refreshed every year, its Finlandia-based vodka cocktails, and “custom-made soundtrack,” this one stretches for a scene that is less touristy, more, er, cool. (You still have to borrow the ugly thermal jacket and gloves though.)
5. ICEBAR LONDON // LONDON, ENGLAND
The same river that provides the ice for Jukkasjärvi builds the surroundings, and cocktail glasses, for ICEBAR’s London outpost. Open year-round, the bar’s design reflects changing themes. The recent theme of "rock" has led the designers to create a slightly alarming six foot ice skull—a warning to not exceed your 40-minute time allotment, perhaps.
Given that England’s ice bar gets its ice from Sweden, it seems odd that Ice Club Roma—which is close to the Colosseum—imports its ice from England. With a sound and light show, this is more of a club than a bar but, kept at a steady five degrees, it probably won’t be a late night.
7. CHILLOUT ICE LOUNGE // DUBAI, UAE
Dubai would never let a gimmick pass it by. So in 2007, Chill Out Dubai opened in the glitzy city. This one does have the advantage of offering more sustenance beyond ice-cold vodka shots, however, serving up warming bowls of soup and mugs of hot chocolate.
8. ICE BAR AT SOHO SQUARE // SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT
Most travelers head for the Egyptian coastal resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to lounge around on the beach for a few days. If you are not like most travelers, head for Ice Bar at SOHO Square. Entrance includes icy vodka shots.
If you’ve ever spent any time in steamy Miami, you might be interested in one of the most recent ice bars to open. Designed by “master ice sculptor” David Berman, the ice bar at Miami’s Fire & Ice promises an “authentic” experience, whatever that means. You are only allowed to stay for 45 minutes, but can move on to the considerably cozier fire lounge afterward.
10. MINUS 5° ICE BAR // NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Those sweltering in New York’s City summer heat also have icy options. The Minus 5° Ice Bar, which is popular for corporate gatherings, is located in Midtown Manhattan with additional outposts in Las Vegas and Orlando. If booking on the company’s dime, note that the Total VIP Experience offers an upgraded faux fur coat and a souvenir hat.
11. ICEBAR ORLANDO // ORLANDO, FLORIDA
ICEBAR Orlando takes the title for biggest permanent ice bar in the world. Upon arrival you are greeted by an "Ice Princess," a possibly underdressed member of the staff who helps you into your borrowed thermals, and afterward you can warm up in the FIRE lounge nightclub.
As you might expect from our friends down under, IceBar Melbourne has quite a party atmosphere. The fun-loving bar hosts themed nights that include “Menopause Mondays” and challenges guests to down a chili-based HOT SHOT, awarding a prize if they last 10 minutes without asking for milk or water.
13. ICE BARILOCHE // BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA
Located in the Argentine Patagonian town of Bariloche, Ice BarIloche (see what they did there?) is South America’s first ice bar. Ice sculptures are created by local artisans and the atmosphere is family-friendly; there's even a resident yeti with whom you can take some photos.
14. AURORA ICE BAR // FAIRBANKS, ALASKA
After touring Alaska’s Aurora Ice Museum, open year-round at Chena Hot Springs Resort, you can chill out at the Aurora Ice Bar for one of of their signature appletinis, while warming up by the ice fireplace. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot the Northern Lights.