Chill out in style at Austria’s ice hotel
Way back in the mists of time, a few not awfully bright apes — who wereobviously finding the sunny plains of Africa a little too warm — uppedsticks and headed for somewhere cooler.
Way back in the mists of time, a few not awfully bright apes — who were obviously finding the sunny plains of Africa a little too warm — upped sticks and headed for somewhere cooler.
That they arrived in the obviously inhospitable Arctic and refused to go back tells you all you need to know about human stubbornness. But no matter, it also meant humans learned to build the igloo.
Fast forward several millennia and we find that oddest of architectural skills has been taken to a new level on the highest glacier in the Austrian Tyrol, the Rettenbach.
And this being the 21st century, and despite the fact that it’s -15C outside and -6C inside, you now get to pay for the igloo experience.
And it’s actually rather terrific.
Welcome to the schneedorf (snow village), Austria's highest hotel at 2,700m in the Tyrolean Alps above the ski resort of Solden.
The early Inuit would choke on their blubber at the sight. Hi-tech igloo-construction methods mean old-fashioned ice-bricks were ditched in favor of using huge balloons as a frame to pack the snow around — then deflating the balloons.
The result is a roomy structure with different rooms, tables, stools, beds (very cold beds) made from packed snow, with sheepskin-covered air mattresses, risqué snow sculptures carved into the walls, and perhaps more importantly hot chocolate laced with schnapps and bowls of delicious goulash.
And by candlelight it’s magical. Cold, but magical.
You can get there by bus, but it's more fun to arrive on skis after a day on the slopes. A little exhaustion will also help you fall asleep to the sound of the walls creaking gently, and unnervingly.
It’s impossibly romantic too, which throws up something of a conundrum for lovers. You’ll want to snuggle up but problem is you’re wearing five layers of clothes.