For many, the sound of sleeping in an ice hotel surrounded by snow seems like a strange way to spend the night. But as Product Executive Michelle found out, it's surprisingly warm and a fantastic winter experience for all ages.
"I arrived into Bucharest in the evening and into a blanket of fog, so I couldn’t see the city as we made our way to the hotel. The fog had lifted by the morning and as we left the hotel for our city tour, I was expecting to find a grey, concrete city. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this was not the case. Tree lined boulevards gave a unique beauty to the streets and it was easy to see why Bucharest was once called 'Little Paris'.
As we drove through the countryside to the small town of Moieciu, my nerves began to build as we made our way to Bran Castle. Legend has it that this was home to the legend of Dracula and also the setting of Bram Stoker’s legendary novel. Fiction turned out to be more interesting than fact, as Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania and chance would have it that Bran Castle rests on top of a rocky outcrop between 2 mountain ranges, as described in the novel. The castle was far more beautiful than I ever thought that it would be, with displays all around describing the modern history of the castle and also the legends of vampires.
On leaving the relative flat of the countryside, we started to make our way to the Carpathian Mountains and the part of the trip that I had been looking forward to the most - the Ice Hotel. As we drove on the switch back roads, gaining height, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the countryside that we had just left. My nerves continued to increase as I caught my first glance of the cable car that would take us to the hotel. Looking like it dated back to the 1970's, I hoped that this was not a sign of things to come. However, as we stepped out of the cable car house, I felt like I had stepped out into a wintery fairy tale. The Ice Hotel was hidden away from sight, even though it was right in front of me. We made our way to the warmth of the chalet, where we could warm up and enjoy the views out over a white landscape and the tall snow-capped mountains that surrounded us on 3 sides.
It was now time to explore on foot, and the only way to this was on snowshoes. After a quick lesson and safety check, we were on our way. Using the snowshoes and poles was easier than I thought and soon we were all speeding across the frozen lake. After our energetic excursion, it was time to return to the chalet to warm up and enjoy a hearty dinner, before heading over to the ice bar for a cup of warmed mulled wine. The it was time to turn in for the night – the night that I had been most nervous about; how cold was it going to be? Was I going to get any sleep? Would I still be able to feel my nose in the morning?
Although the bed and everything within the room was made of ice, it was far warmer that I had anticipated. A foam mattress covered in furs, plus pillow and pre-warmed, polar grade sleeping bag were all provided for us. The only tricky part was taking my boots off and getting changed without touching my feet to the freezing cold floor. However, once I was tucked up for the night, I slept surprisingly well and could still feel my nose in the morning– always a bonus. There was always the option of sleeping in the warm comforts of the cable car building should the cold have got too much.
The next morning, we took the chance to go tubing, essentially sliding down a hill on a rubber ring. Seeing a group of fully grown adults acting like children in the snow was incredible. We even had a competition of who could slide the furthest – nothing like a bit of competition between friends.
Despite all of my nerves before I left, this trip was great. The Ice Hotel was the highlight of my trip and something that I will always remember."