So, where was I? Right, the sun had finally come out so I retired to a dark theatre in Canterbury for an afternoon and evening, watching some men pretend to be ladies. As one does.
The following day, I got my Christmas present from my sister Helen and her boyfriend, which was a trip to the Ice Bar in London; our other sister, Caz, came along too. Ok, it took us six months to find a date we could all do, but what can I say – we’re busy people 😉
Ironically, it was the hottest day of the year (so far) when we headed up to town. The ICEBAR by ICEHOTEL, to give the establishment its full name, is tucked away behind Regent Street and is so popular that you have to book in advance. We were a bit early so had some time to peruse the extensive cocktail menu; it was a chore but somehow we coped.
Then it was time to go in. It’s -5 degrees inside the Ice Bar and we were dressed for summer, but luckily they give you a special cape/coat thing with a fur-lined hood, which they put on you at the door by flinging it dramatically over your head (and that of anyone standing close enough behind you).
The Ice Bar is a single room with, funnily enough, a bar made out of ice. Not only that but the seats, decor, walls and even the glasses are made out of ice too. When we went in, we got to choose one of their themed cocktails, which was given to us in an ice glass. Because we were wearing bulky mittens (also provided), we had to hold our glasses with both hands, and ended up standing around in a huddle trying to decide the best way to drink out of them. It’s quite difficult to do and there was a little bit of dribbling involved, but at least we were all dribbling together.
The ice glasses were very cool though. In fact you’re allowed to keep them if you want, although they do point out on their website that a glass made out of ice might not last long outside the bar, just in case that hadn’t occurred to anyone.
Once we’d successfully negotiated the drinking challenge, we wrestled our cameras out of our bags – also not entirely easy when you’re wearing a heavy cape over the top – and set off to explore. The bar isn’t very big but it’s not often you’re in a room made of ice, so we made the most of our 40 minutes. (That’s how long you get to stay inside; there’s even a clock ticking the time down on the wall, which feels mildly ominous.)
The bar’s theme this year is Galactic Frontiers and there are some cool sculptures and installations around the room, as well as areas to sit down if you want to. We had fun taking silly pictures of each other (yet another thing it’s difficult to do while wearing gloves) until our time ran out and we were kicked out into the warm.
The Ice Bar is a really fun experience, although admittedly quite an unusual one. My recommendations if you give it a try:
– Wear proper shoes. They say this on their website, and we had the added benefit of having Helen and Rob with us, who’d been before, so we were prepared. But it is seriously cold in there and the cape doesn’t cover your feet, so flip flops are probably a bad idea, unless you’re interested in frostbitten toes.
– Take a camera. Getting silly photos of your friends/family in the highly attractive blue capes is half the fun.
– Put your camera in your pocket before you go in, so it’s easily accessible when you need it. Ditto for money if you plan to have more than one drink.
– Make your own ice glasses at home and practise drinking out of them before your visit, to avoid public dribbling.
Ok, the last one may be taking things a bit far…