Europe’s Coolest Ice Bars

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Europe’s Coolest Ice Bars

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Category : Europe , Winter

Fantastic ice sculptures, sexy vodka cocktails, and Siberian-like temperatures – the ice bars in Europe take “chill” to a whole new level. From London to Barcelona, here are 7 cool drinking establishments where everything is made of glittering ice.

ICEBAR by ICEHOTEL, Stockholm

Housed in Stockholm’s Nordic C Hotel, ICEBAR by ICEHOTEL is the first permanent ice bar in the world. Part lounge, part art gallery, the impressive venue features a stunning new design each year. The current theme is inspired by Swedish novel “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” by Selma Lagerlöf. The interior is made entirely of ice brought here from the Torne River in northern Sweden, and the entrance fee includes a drink and plenty of fantastic sculptures to admire.

ICEPUB PRAGUE, Prague

Ice Bar Prague

Situated in the heart of the Czech capital, inside the largest nightclub in central Europe, ICEPUB PRAGUE invites visitors to sip delicious vodka cocktails at a temperature of -7 °C. Inside, everything from the décor to your glass is made of ice, so it comes as no surprise that every customer receives a thermal jacket and gloves at the bar’s entrance.

Where to stay in Prague?

ICEBAR LONDON, London

Ice Bar London

As soon as you enter the ICEBAR LONDON you will find yourself surrounded by ice walls, ice furniture, and majestic ice sculptures. Situated on Heddon Street, the stylish locale made of crystal clear river ice from Sweden changes its appearance once a year, courtesy of a team of skilled ice designers and sculptors. During their 40-minute experience inside the ice bar, visitors are provided with designer capes and gloves to keep them warm while enjoying sophisticated cocktails. A gift shop and a lovely restaurant serving modern British cuisine are also on-site.

Where to stay in London?

Icebar Xtracold, Amsterdam

XtraCcold Icebar

With its creative icy interiors, colorful LED-lighting, and unique 4D Ice Xperience, Amsterdam’s Xtracold Icebar is an adventure from start to finish. 35 tons of natural ice have been used to create this fascinating, frosty space where drinks are served in glasses carved out of ice in a temperature of -10 degrees Celsius. Every 6 months, the décor and beautiful ice art on display are redesigned to create a completely new experience. Adjacent to the ice bar, you’ll find a nice lounge where you can warm up with music and cocktails.

Where to stay in Amsterdam?

ICEBARCELONA, Barcelona

Ice Bar in Barcelona

The world’s first beach ice bar, Icebarcelona is a truly one-of-a-kind experience, offering visitors the chance to go from glorious Mediterranean sunshine to a frozen world in a matter of minutes. Designed by famous ice artists, the striking lounge boasts mesmerizing interiors carved out of ice and renewed every so often. Additionally, there’s a sleek outdoor terrace where you can bask in the sun and enjoy the warm sea breeze whilst sipping your favorite concoction.

Where to stay in Barcelona?

Ice Kube Bar, Paris

Ice Kube Bar, Paris

Situated on the first floor of the hip in Paris, Ice Kube Bar comes with surreal interiors by Michel Amann, the world champion in ice-carving. The experience is limited to around 30 minutes and includes everything from spectacular ice artwork and cutting-edge lighting effects to tasty vodka-based drinks, excellent music, and Siberian-like temperatures. The ice bar’s atmosphere is as hip and stylish as its exclusive clientele.

Ice Club, Rome

Ice Club Rome

Conveniently located near the Colosseum in Rome, Ice Club Roma is the perfect spot to cool off after taking in the sights and sounds of Italy’s monumental capital. Everything in the bar is made of pure ice from England and the temperature is maintained at -5º C. Guests are welcomed with scrumptious vodka-based cocktails, plush white furs, and synchronized sounds and lights.

Where to stay in Rome?

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9 Spectacular Igloo Villages in Europe

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Category : Europe , Winter

Ever wondered how sleeping in an igloo feels like? Check out the following European igloo villages and see why this unique winter getaway experience should definitely be on your bucket list.

Iglu Dorf

Igloo with Jacuzzi

With various locations across the Alps and the Pyrenees, the German company Iglu Dorf is probably the first name that comes to mind when thinking of European igloo villages. Rebuilt every season, these magical establishments made of ice and snow provide guests with some truly unique sleeping experiences.

From Zermatt to Andorra, each of their 7 igloo villages is beautifully decorated in a different art theme every year and includes a treasure trove of perks, from snow parks and snow bars to outstanding saunas.

Village Igloo Blacksheep, France

Blacksheep Igloo

Perched 2118 m above sea level, right in the heart of La Plagne ski area, Village Igloo Blacksheep offers charming igloo accommodation accompanied by majestic views of Mont Blanc and delicious Savoyard meals.

Ranging from romantic retreats to spacious igloos that can accommodate up to 5 guests, their frozen units come complete with winter sleeping bags and faux fur blankets to ensure maximum comfort. If cold is not your thing, the village’s hot igloo is an ideal option.

Igloo Village Bayerwald, Germany

Igloo Village in Germany

Nestled in the beautiful Bavarian Forest, in the town of Mauth, Igloo Village Bayerwald is an ideal option if you want to explore this lovely region of Germany. The resort is open yearly from December to the beginning of March and offers you the chance to feel like an Eskimo while sleeping in an igloo made of snow.

Activities available include snow-shoe tours, torch-lit night walks, and various workshops. Delicious meals are served in the nearby guesthouse.

ALPENIGLU® Village, Tyrol

Romantic Igloo Accommodation

If you’re looking for igloo lodging with a luxurious twist, look no further than the fascinating ALPENIGLU® village in the Kitzbühel Alps. The 18 ice-carved accommodations come appointed with warm sleeping bags and reindeer skins, and also include VIP igloo suites that can be arranged and decorated for your romantic escape.

A destination in its own right, the complex is home to an ice bar, a fabulous ice sculpture exhibition, various exciting events, and a beautiful igloo church where weddings can be organized.

Igloo Village in Kuhtai, Austria

Kuhtai Igloo Village

Situated in Austria’s highest ski resort, about 45 minutes’ drive from Innsbruck, Khutai Igloo Village boasts 12 cozy igloo suites, plus two larger ones designed for dining and entertainment.

Whether you opt for a romantic night in a unit for two or choose to sleep in a larger room (four to six people), all accommodations offer thermal sleeping bags and insulated mattresses covered with comfy sheepskin rugs. Moreover, the igloos are beautifully designed by talented snow artists, and the on-site activities range from husky sledding and igloo building workshops to fantastic skiing & snowboarding.

Eskimo Village, Slovenia

Ice Bedroom

Conveniently located in Krvavec, Slovenia’s second-largest ski resort, Eskimo Villagewelcomes its visitors with an igloo restaurant, an igloo bar, and an igloo sauna.

Designed to accommodate up to 34 overnight guests, the igloo suites come equipped with beds crafted from blocks of ice, sheep skins, and polar sleeping bags. The experience is complemented by excellent skiing and warming fondue dinners.

Kakslauttanen, Finnish Lapland

Kakslauttanen Igloo Village

If sleeping in a traditional igloo is not exactly your thing, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resortprovides a wonderful alternative.

Set high up above the Arctic Circle, in a remote corner of Finnish Lapland, the sprawling complex boasts various types of accommodation, including luxurious log cabins, snow igloos, traditional Lapland houses, and glass igloos whose unique design allows guests to see the Northern Lights from the comfort of their own bed.

In addition to a restaurant, the resort offers smoke saunas, ice swimming, as well as an endless variety of winter activities.

Schneedorf Igloo Village, Austria

Schneedorf-Igloo-Village

Perched at an altitude of 2,700 m in the Tyrolean Alps, Schneedorf Igloo Village has icy rooms for any occasion, from intimate pair suites complete with double sleeping bag, candles, and sheepskin rugs to spacious units sleeping 4 persons. Guests can also take part in a fun and exciting construction workshop and build their own igloo.

Golden Crown Levi Igloos, Finland

glass-roof-igloos

Although situated only 10 km away from Finland’s largest ski resort, Golden Crown Levi Igloos feels miles away from civilization, offering guests the unparalleled opportunity to experience the stunning Arctic environment in all its magical beauty.

Accommodation is offered in 12 well-appointed glass-roofed igloos, from where you can comfortably admire the spectacular Aurora Borealis. Units ran from Superior to Premium, but all of them are heated and feature glass-domed ceilings and private kitchenettes.


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Europe’s Top 5 Winter Sun Destinations

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Category : Europe , Winter

Looking to escape the cold and start 2016 with a delightful winter sun holiday in a warm destination? Here are 5 sunny getaways that are sure to melt away the winter blues and get you rolling into spring, without breaking the bank.

5. Sicily, Italy

Cefalu, Sicily

Winter in Sicily means fewer crowds, bright blue skies, and almond trees in full bloom. It also means you’ll have the island’s stunning Baroque towns and extraordinary archaeological sites all to yourself and that you’ll be able to ski on Mount Etna, indulge in delicious cuisine, and enjoy beautiful Taormina at its most relaxed.

4. Malta

Port in Malta

Home to 9 UNESCO Heritage World Heritage Sites, Malta is an ideal destination for a winter sun escape with a cultural twist. During winter, it hardly rains and temperatures rarely drop below 15 °C, making it very pleasant to be outside all day long strolling the sunny streets of Valletta or exploring the untouched countryside. An alluring mix of natural harbors, pretty fishing villages, rocky coves, and towering cliffs, Malta’s lovely coastline is a delight to discover no matter the season.

3. Madeira, Portugal

Funchal, Madeira

At 1,000 miles from mainland Portugal, Madeira is one of Europe’s most remote and exotic islands. And although there is always a risk of some rain in winter, its lush green landscapes, vibrant tropical gardens, and dramatic coast are reason enough to visit at any time of the year. The sun is shining about 6 hours a day, but at temperatures of 18 – 20°C, the weather is perfect for golf, walking, and sightseeing. Funchal, the island’s picturesque capital, has a lot to offer its visitors, from beautiful colonial architecture to a thriving nightlife.

2. Cyprus

Beach in Cyprus

With balmy winter temperatures hovering around 20°C, Cyprus is an excellent choice for a sunny break filled with culture, history, and mouthwatering food. Located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, this fascinating island country has everything from wonderful beaches and spectacular nature parks to fabulous archaeological sites. The country’s capital, Nicosia (Lefkosia in Greek) has some of the best museums and restaurants; Paphos abounds in beaches and archeological treasures; and Limassol is famous for its lively nightlife.

1. Canary Islands, Spain

Winter Break in Fuerteventura

The pleasantly warm year-round weather along with the low travel costs make Spain’s Canary Islands one of Europe’s best winter sun destinations. Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote – they’re all brimming with culture, beautiful beaches, and lots of things to do, but if you’re looking for a tranquil getaway coupled with unspoilt landscapes and unique traditions, you might want to consider the archipelago’s lesser known islands of El Hierro and La Gomera.

There’s no better time to take a trip than today, so why not take advantage of the low travel cost and exciting holiday packages on the market and go get your dose of Vitamin D while seeing some of Europe’s best-kept historical and cultural treasures awash in warm temperatures and glorious sunshine.


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Europe’s Best Winter Getaways

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Category : Europe , Visit Europe

High design and haute cuisine meet crackling fires and snow-covered vistas in these European winter destinations.

Europeans have dreamt up many definitions of cozy. Denmark has hygge, a concept that evokes “coziness when relaxing with good friends.” Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have gemütlich, which translates to “comfortably homey.” And Bulgaria has its уют, which means “snug.”

Still, the concept of a European winter getaway is changing. Seaside towns and off-season resort areas are seeing an uptick of visitors who come for digital detoxes and crowd-free retreats that can cost a quarter as much as a ski weekend. Sagres, in Portugal, for instance, is experiencing an increase in visitors, namely golfers seeking a bit of cool January sun and surfers coming for the winter swells. Croatia’s Istrian coast, meanwhile, attracts flocks of Zagreb creative types thanks to the significant off-season savings at its seaside and design-forward hotels.

Find out why there’s no winter like a European winter—especially in these towns.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Jutting west into the North Atlantic Ocean, the Snæfellsnes peninsula is Iceland at its most stunning: moss-blanketed lava fields, misty fjords surrounded by craggy cliffs, and a towering volcano crowned with a glacier that dates back to the Ice Age. Do it as a road trip, starting with a night at the fire-engine-red Hotel Egilsen, in the tiny fishing town of Stykkisholmur. The inn’s 10 cozy rooms have a New England vibe, decorated as they are in light blues and greens, and original sketches of local landmarks by Icelandic artist Tolli line the walls. Across the street, Narfeyrarstofa, with its doilies and lace curtains, may look like someone’s grandmother’s house, but the restaurant serves the best lamb stew in town. It’s about an 80-mile drive around the tip of the peninsula—past waterfalls and golden beaches—to Hotel Búðir, the region’s game-changing property. The 17th-century trading post turned 28-room lodge is a destination in itself, with views of the Snæfell glacier or bay from every window, sitting areas with deep leather sofas and scores of old National Geographics to flip through, and a lobby bar with one of the country’s largest whiskey collections. If you’re looking to knock the northern lights off your bucket list, you’re in luck: an overnight concierge will wake you up for the show.

good winter vacations Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites

Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites

Most visitors who come to the jagged, skyscraping peaks of northeastern Italy stay at a traditional hotel in the Badia Valley. But Adler Mountain Lodge is luring more design-inclined skiers to the lesser-known Alpe di Siusi region to the west. The main building has 18 rooms, with spare pinewood interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and décor inspired by the owners’ trips to Africa—a totem pole here, a carved wooden eagle there. You’ll also find 12 stunning terraced villas resembling ancient Tyrolean huts. Surrounding the property are more than 220 miles of hiking and cross-country ski trails dotted with traditional baitas (stone-and-wood houses) selling steaming cups of hot cocoa. Ask the concierge to arrange a one-hour trek that ends with lunch at Gostner Schwaige, where Franz Mulser serves his signature hay soup, a hearty mix of vegetable stock, cream, butter, and boiled hay in a bread bowl. There’s little reason to leave the area, but it’s worth taking the short cable car ride to Santa Cristina village to see the town square glow with holiday lights.

winter destinations in europe Åre, Sweden

Åre, Sweden

With its snow-covered peaks, café-lined town square, and red-hot après-ski scene, this mountain resort in northern Sweden is the Aspen of Scandinavia. There are more than 100 powdery ski runs, or you can navigate the slopes by snowmobile or dogsled: Explore Åre and Camp Åre are two top outfitters that can arrange tours. After dark, a lively crowd congregates over pints of Swedish Brekeriet beer at Hotel Fjällgården, where DJs keep the place thumping late into the night. For a quiet evening, curl up with a mug of glogg at Gute Grill & Bar in the Tott Hotel. A five-minute walk away, chef Markus Aujalays runs Fjällpuben, a cozy restaurant with a farmhouse feel that serves dishes like tender elk carpaccio with currants and pickled beets. You’ll find several sophisticated hotels in town, but for a true northern adventure, consider spending a night at Igloo Åre, where the beds are made of packed snow covered in plush sleeping bags and reindeer skins, and private guides lead early morning snowshoe hikes. If the thought of ice blocks leaves you cold, there’s the new wood- and-glass Copperhill Mountain Lodge by American architect Peter Bohlin, a high-design ski-in, ski-out chalet with huge stone fireplaces, furnishings by the likes of Tom Dixon and Patricia Urquiola, and spa “tee-pees” that pay homage to the region’s indigenous Sami tribe. Book a Samezen massage, which uses warm stones and plant extracts, then take in the mountain views from a natural hot-spring-fed pool.

La Massana, Andorra

La Massana, Andorra

Two hours from Barcelona in Andorra’s northwest corner, this Catalonian ski resort has no shortage of pistes and cozy bordas, traditional stone restaurants where tender lamb and beef are cooked on an open grill. Winter activities here in the Pyrenees, as in many European resort destinations, center on skiing and snowboarding. The main resort, Vallnord, has 55 miles of runs ranging in altitude from 5,085 to 8,500 feet, while a relaxing soak in Caldea Thermal Bath and spa is a worthy nine-mile detour away. The stylish Palomé Hotel has a crackling fireplace in the lobby, ski lockers, and spartan rooms with leather loveseats, soft beds, and mountain views.

Vals, Switzerland

Vals, Switzerland

You don’t come to this tiny village in the Swiss Alps to ski. Instead of perfectly groomed pistes, you’ll find a wonderland for design buffs. Built from sparkling gray blocks of Vals quartzite, Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor’s austerely beautiful Therme Vals houses a warren of steamy hammams and flower-strewn pools. Last fall, the on-site hotel was rebranded as the 7132 Hotel, with furniture by Fritz Hansen and Eero Saarinen, a restaurant that serves dishes like Öra salmon with beets and spinach, and new rooftop suites designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. If your taste tends toward fewer hard surfaces and right angles, the four-room Brücke 49 embodies the distinctive Danish ethos of hygge, or coziness, but with some Midcentury-inspired flair: Finn Juhl chairs, 1960s Le Klint lamps, Vola showers, and William Morris wallpaper. Do as the locals do and earn your fondue with a 45-minute hike from the hotel along farm roads to Restaurant Ganni, an 18th-century timber mountain lodge. After a pot of silky cheese spiked with ginger, porcini, or traditional kirsch, throw back a vieille prune (cask-aged plum brandy) digestif to fortify you for the walk back down.

The Cotswolds, Cheltenham

The Cotswolds, Cheltenham

Once a popular spa getaway for well-heeled Londoners, Cheltenham fell out of favor with the rise of its trendier neighbors Daylesford and Chipping Norton. But with the opening of No. 38 The Park, the historic town in the northern Cotswolds is back in the spotlight. The brainchild of Sam and Georgie Pearman, the Regency building has 13 bedrooms, elegantly done with reclaimed-wood tables, freestanding Victorian bathtubs, and David Hockney prints. For dinner, make your way to sister property No. 131, where locals gather in a buzzy, low-lit dining room for regionally sourced dishes. Beyond the hotel, there’s plenty to explore, including the housewares and antiques shops in the neighborhoods of Montpellier and Suffolk. Don’t miss Guild at 51, full of handmade textiles and silverwork. Or tour the recently renovated Wilson, an art space showcasing both British Arts and Crafts and emerging artists. For lunch, Purslane serves a standout Cornish pollack with wood-roasted celeriac and chanterelles; come nighttime, it’s all about Daffodil, an Art Deco–style restaurant and bar known for its martinis and live jazz.

Courchevel, France

Courchevel, France

Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, is not known for taking foolish risks. So when he decided to give the hotel business a try with the ultra-luxe Cheval Blanc Courchevel, he set his sights on Courchevel’s most glamorous zip code, Le Jardin Alpin. Its north-facing slopes are among the best, its network of ski lifts the most efficient, and its habitués the most monied in all of Europe. With Arnault’s imprimatur and designer Sybille de Margerie’s bright, futuristic interiors, the property was a big-enough deal to lure chef Yannick Alléno from Paris’s Michelin three-starred Le Meurice to open Le 1947, where traditional French dishes get a modern spin. Just up the mountain, L’Apogée Courchevel bears the dual stamp of Parisian designers India Mahdavi and Joseph Dirand. The 53 timbered rooms and suites are surprisingly casual, decorated in a burgundy, green, and gingham palette, while the two chalets have log fires, perfect for curling up beside after a long day on the mountain. Courchevel’s equally polished town center is lined with high-end boutiques, including Isabel Marant and Ski Dior, and the bakery Maison Braissand is an essential stop for its buttery pain au chocolat.

Bouillon, Belgium

Bouillon, Belgium

Deep in the Ardennes on a woodsy bend of the Semois River, this medieval town has become increasingly popular with naturalists who come for fishing and foodies who come for the bone-warming Belgian food. Set out for an invigorating walk up a hill to 13th-century Bouillon Castle, armed with treats from the abundant local bakeries and chocolate shops. And book your stay at Hotel La Ferronnière, an ivy-covered 19th-century Tudor mansion surrounded by gardens and known for its earthy cuisine: wood mushroom cassolette, Ardenne ham with cream, and lobster with vanilla and tobacco. The husband-and-wife owners added a wellness center with saunas, a hammam, and a Jacuzzi in 2010—followed by spacious spa suites with terraces that overlook native beech wood and hazelnut forests.

Sagres, Portugal

Sagres, Portugal

Surfers and golfers descend on this sun-kissed town teetering off the southwestern tip of the Algarve. (Its many golf courses include the 18-hole Boavista, designed by Howard Swan, and Espiche, located in an ecological preserve.) But the architectural highlight is Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel’s timber-wrapped cubist blocks overlooking the Atlantic, whose massive winter swells are wildly popular with surfers and storm watchers. Interiors feature Vitra chairs and Noguchi bamboo lamps, while also paying tribute to the region with local materials like cork and woven Algarve reeds. The result is an upmarket-bohemian beach vibe.

Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia

This former Venetian vassal state on the azure Adriatic has traditionally slipped into hibernation mode come winter. Yet in recent years, it’s attracted some attention as an off-season long weekend getaway. So you’ll find architects and designers from places like Vienna and Zagreb wandering the cobblestoned streets and ancient churches—relishing the sunshine, lack of crowds, and deep discounts. The sleek Hotel Lone, a member of Design Hotels, halves its rates in winter, with packages that include mini-massages for couples, in-room dining, and complimentary bottles of sparkling wine. Lone’s restaurant larders benefit from Istria’s truffle season—which sometimes lasts until February.

Tyrol, Austria

Tyrol, Austria

Not to be confused with South Tyrol in Italy, Austria’s Tyrol abuts its German-speaking Italian sibling, but offers a distinct flavor of skiing, eating, and thermal bathing that includes 40 lifts and 200 miles of trails. Längenfeld’s geothermal spring, established in the 16th century, features three levitating outdoor pools and moonlight bathing at the Aqua Dome on Fridays. The Tyrol region is infamous for après-ski parties, and the 78-room Zhero–Ischgl/Kappl obliges with penthouse suites with private butler service, velvet-and-leather-accented cigar rooms, and an 8,073-square-foot spa with four saunas, an indoor pool, dampfbad (steam room), and a state-of-the-art gym—not to mention a free shuttle to the lifts. 

Aschau im Chiemgau, Germany

12 of 13 Mel Stuart/Westend61/Corbis

Aschau im Chiemgau, Germany

The remote and gorgeous town of Aschau im Chiemgau—an hour from Munich in Bavaria’s extreme southern corner on the border of Austria—is fast becoming a retreat for Central European urbanites in search of a digital detox. There’s no Wi-Fi, phone, or TV at the minimalist Berge, which reflects the tastes of owner and contemporary furniture designer Nils Holger Moormann. Instead, the sauna, views of medieval Hohenaschau Castle, and access to a rarefied wilderness will set you at ease and remind you of what’s special about a visit to the mountains.

Pamporovo, Bulgaria

Pamporovo, Bulgaria

While the karst formations, reservoirs, caves, and gorges of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains are spectacular, they attract only a handful of summertime adventurers. The area livens up come winter, when the Pamporovo ski resort buzzes with skiers here for 35 miles of pistes, 18 lifts, and 23 miles of cross-country skiing trails set around scenic pine forests. Villa Gella is a tasteful, modern villa with its own indoor pool, a gym, a steam room, a yoga corner, and a resident chef. It’s 25 minutes from Pamporovo, Bulgaria’s largest ski area, and in day-trip proximity to four of Bulgaria’s nine UNESCO World Heritage sites.