Staying at an ice hotel has been on my bucket list for years. I have visited hotels in Finland that were nice but too expensive for an overnight stay.
When I found out Romania Ice Hotel was a fraction of the price, I knew I had to stay here!
I stayed at the Romanian Ice Hotel during my Untravelled Paths tour. It was a 4-day Transylvania tour ←As I wrote about here, the Ice Hotel was amazing, so I would like to write about it in detail!
You do not need to join a tour to stay at the Romania Ice Hotel, you can book it independently. Personally, I think it’s better to take a tour. If you drive there, be prepared to drive through heavy snow. You may also need to dig your car out after spending the night in the parking lot!
The Romanian Ice Hotel is rebuilt every winter with a new theme and as far as I can see, the hotel gets a little bigger and better every year!
My experience staying at the Romania Ice Hotel
We left Brasov after breakfast and made our way through the windy roads of the Fagaras Mountains.
Our minibus winded through an alpine forest full of snow-covered trees to Lake Balea Cascada, where we took a cable car to our hotel.
We boarded the rickety cable car and it slowly slid into the clouds, leaving a ground of snow a worrying distance below us!
With our warm breath and icy conditions surrounded by white mist, it was hard to tell what was snow, clouds, or foggy windows.
When I got off the cable car, I burst into laughter. This was completely unreasonable.
I literally saw nothing but white around me. Up, down, left, right, back, front. It was just pure white. The wind blew across my face like a relentless slap, pushing my body in any direction it wanted. There were several people in front of me dragging their suitcases through the deep snow, and this sight really tickled me. Looks like they should have taken a walk around the airport instead of stumbling across the snowy mountainside looking for it… Well, we didn’t even know what we were looking for because we couldn’t see anything!
Luckily we had a guide who showed us the way to a warm chalet that felt like paradise after a failed attempt at a snow blizzard!
I fell out of the chalet door like a hideous snowball, wild-eyed and panting, my snowy hair falling around my face.
Of course, the chalet was quiet and peaceful, a world away from the snowy chaos outside!
Turns out we arrived at a bad time, but after 10 minutes the wind had subsided and the sun was peeking through the clouds. In the distance I could see some buildings, the opening of a snow hotel, a few snowmobiles circling, and an ice chapel that was still under construction.
It took me a while to work up the courage to go outside, so I stayed in the chalet and ate a big cup of hot food.
There were activities like snowmobiling, tubing, ice rafting, and banana rides, but I decided to enjoy them in the warmth of my chalet while watching people from the window and enjoying a large glass of red wine!
We headed to the Ice Hotel, barely visible across the snowy landscape. I could see that a large door was buried, but I couldn’t see much else due to the clouds and snow. I staggered through the snow toward the door again…party?
The Romanian Ice Hotel is open to day visitors and we entered a large hall with a bar at one end and blaring music. The interior was surprisingly bright and the air was cool, but not as cold as the arctic conditions outside.
Ice tables and stools lined the walls, and people were laughing, dancing, and taking pictures, as you would at any other bar, but I suspect a lot of the dancing was to keep warm think!
Along each wall were six low arches, hung with curtains, leading to small bedrooms. Large beds made of ice occupied the rooms, and several of the rooms had ice sculptures and small footrests. We explored each room, took photos, and wondered how on earth we were going to sleep that night!
We warmed up with hot chocolate with Baileys before heading back to the chalet.
I had hoped to take part in a guided tunnel trek that afternoon, walking over the mountain and through a tunnel to an observation deck.
Unfortunately, due to the weather, the tunnel trek was canceled. That was a shame because we were just waiting for the day when the tourists left so we could eat dinner and sleep!
Yes, I’m not going to lie. I was really excited to go to bed and sleep at the Ice Hotel!
Before going to bed, we enjoyed a magical dinner at the Ice Restaurant. There, we wrapped ourselves in blankets to keep our butts from freezing and enjoyed four steaming courses while sitting on animal fur. The food was good, but not just “it tasted good considering you were inside a building made of ice”. It was really delicious and I was very impressed that they were able to serve hot food in ice like this.
After cleaning up the frozen dishes, we gave a demonstration on how to get into bed that night. Yes, it was actually so complicated that I needed a demo!
Our guide recommended layering clothes that make us feel comfortable, such as warm pajamas or thermal wear. Then we got into our sleeping bags and put a fur rug over our unworn shoes, hats and coats so we wouldn’t get wet in the morning. Once inside your sleeping bag, throw a blanket over it and it will stay nice and warm!
We then spent the night drinking and dancing until it was time to go to bed (yes, at this point I was really excited and waiting to get into the ice bed!)
We got ready in the chalet and changed into thick fleece leggings with velor pajamas on top, thick socks, T-shirts, thick jumpers, and woolen hats. I was also wearing waterproof pants and was planning to take them off once I got into my sleeping bag, but I didn’t have the space so I just kept them on!
I was told not to wear a scarf because the moisture from my breath would make me cold and stuffy, but I wrapped my sleeping bag tightly around my face.
I was giggling like a kid on Christmas Eve, pulling blankets over me and wriggling around to get comfortable and warm. Thanks to a few shots and a long, tiring day, I was fast asleep within minutes.
I woke up a couple of times during the night but went right back to sleep so I slept from 10pm to 8am. All I ended up waking up to was wanting to go to the bathroom!
We had breakfast in the chalet and used the shower in the chalet’s hotel room before returning to the upper floor and taking the cable car down the mountain.
This is my experience staying at the Romanian Ice Hotel.
It was amazing and a once in a lifetime experience. I’m really glad I did it, but it’s something I really only want to do once. I don’t think I need to do it again!
Now, let’s move on to some frequently asked questions about staying at an ice hotel in Romania.
Was it cold sleeping in the Romania Ice Hotel?
The question that everyone has is “Wasn’t it cold!?’
Actually, it wasn’t cold. Well, it may have been a bit cold, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
The air was obviously very cold, around -1°C, so the skin that poked out from under the covers was cold. My face and nose were cold, but not so cold that I couldn’t sleep. At some point during the night I lost the hood of my sleeping bag and woke up with a cold head and neck, but as soon as I repositioned myself I was back to sleep.
What happens if you need the toilet in an ice hotel?
The toilets at the Ice Hotel were located in a separate chalet nearby.
I was worried that it would be a nightmare if I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I would have had to get up, get more dressed, go outside and walk to the toilet in the main chalet.
Several people attended and one couple said it was really nice as it was so quiet and peaceful during the night. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t go because I was consciously trying not to drink too much before bed!
What do you wear in an Ice Hotel?
during the day
During the day at the ice hotel, we recommend wearing something similar to what you would wear skiing. I didn’t bring ski equipment with me to lighten my load, but now I regret it and wish I had brought it.
If I were to go again, I would wear:
- Fleece lined leggings (Primark has good ones)
- ski pants
- thick socks
- Winter Boots – I have the Elsa Boot by Keen and I love it
- thermal top
- warm jumper
- Ski jacket or similar warm waterproof jacket
- wool hat
- Ski goggles – if you plan on doing activities like snowmobiling
- Gloves – If you plan on doing any activity, make yourself a pair of ski gloves
What to wear at night to sleep in an ice hotel
If you are like me and feel cold, I recommend sleeping with this
- fleece lined leggings
- warm pajama bottoms
- warm socks
- woolen hat
You will be given a sleeping bag and 2-3 blankets. If you’re given a blanket while you’re eating dinner, keep it because you might want it later when you go to bed.
What else should I bring to go to an ice hotel
Here’s what else you’ll need to pack:
- Lip balm
- Small bag – You will be advised to bring a small bag to the ice hotel and leave your main suitcase somewhere else
- Basic toiletries – toothbrush and toothpaste, face wipes and moisturizer were all we needed
- Water bottle – Optional as I was told not to drink the water as it would freeze, but I was coughing at the time so I took it anyway. I tend to cough at night and the only recourse is water. Something useful.
If you would like to stay at the Romanian Ice Hotel as part of an Untravelled Paths tour, we highly recommend it. I booked this experience I found on TravelZoo and paid just £299 for the 4-day trip (including the ice hotel!) so I managed to book it on the cheap!)
If not, you can check dates and prices here and book individually.