Chill Out in Stockholm’s Icebar

At the Icebar, you’ll don a fur-hooded cape and gloves and sit in stark ice chairs to enjoy drinks ‘in the rocks’ in an otherworldly, ice-sculpted interior.


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Photo by Thommy Gyllenbielke

 

You’ll never need to worry about which skimpy cocktail dress best shows off your figure for your visit to Stockholm’s Icebar. Since the entire bar, its tables, chairs, and even glasses, are all made of solid ice, this frozen nighttime hangout is kept at a nippy 23 degrees Fahrenheit. All patrons are outfitted in identical, insulated, floor-length, midnight-blue capes with fur-trimmed hoods and matching gloves before being allowed entry into an air-locked chamber that keeps out the warmth. Footwear is not provided, so you might rethink those strappy Manolos for some toasty mukluks, since the bar’s floor is made of frosty metal.

Guests can reserve 40-minute time slots in which to knock back neon-hued juice and vodka libations while reclining on rock-hard ice chairs, made infinitesimally cozier by sheepskin throw rugs. It’s not a place where you can “totally chill out.” Even its bartenders must rotate out every three hours.

The vibe is otherworldly, like having landed on a frozen planet, with ice-sculpted walls and angular, glistening furniture bathed in an eerie blue hue.

You needn’t order cocktails on the rocks here, as they will be served in the rocks—that is, inside the bar’s signature chunky, ice-cube glasses. The menu features vodka with various fruit juices, including the classic Swedish lingonberry and elderflower, plus a rainbow of glow-in-the dark potions concocted with aqua-blue or emerald-green Curaçao.

Stockholm’s Icebar, which shares its lobby with the Nordic Sea Hotel, was built in 2002, and holds the distinction of being the world’s first year-round ice bar. It drew inspiration from the very first Icebar (open winters only) established in 1994 at Sweden’s celebrated far-north Ice Hotel in the town of Jukkasjärvi, 125 miles above the Arctic Circle.

But if the thought of forking over $400 to $600 per night in cold hard cash for accommodations carved out of ice doesn’t inflame your passions, you might warm up to the idea with a mini-escape to Stockholm’s wintry watering hole, which gets the raw material for its bar from thousands of tons of pristine ice harvested annually from Jukkasjärvi’s Torne River, a place so far north that the water is pollution-free. 

Twice a year, the bar’s interior and all its furnishings are completely redesigned by a rotating roster of the hottest ice artists wielding specially designed saws.

Other ice bars exist in chilly sites such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam and sunshine capitals such as Las Vegas and Mexico City. But Stockholm is the perfect place to get iced. Built on a series of islands near the Baltic Sea, it also is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with its stately edifices perched on the edge of an archipelago. Besides being the home of the Nobel Prize, this 800-year-old city was named Europe’s first Green Capital.

People interested in another icy pursuit can investigate ice sailing, an invigorating sport pursued on Blockart land yachts or bigger, faster Isabellas in the Scandinavian Islands with easy access from Stockholm.

 Come for the Icebar, but realize it represents only the tip of the iceberg of Sweden’s treasures.

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