Ice Hotel at Balea Lac

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The Ice Hotel at Balea Lac (Balea Lake) is an emerging tourist destination, on par with similar ice hotel ventures in Sweden, Canada and Japan. After a short trial run season in 2006, the Ice Hotel is open (seasonally) and aiming be the next winter tourism novelty for people wanting to enrich their ski vacations in the Faragras Mountains in southern Transylvania.

The Ice Hotel is exactly what it claims to be; a hotel – walls, corridors, pillars, decorations, beds – built entirely out of ice. The hotel has a hip, moody ice bar, with drinks served in ice glasses, and adorned with sculpture models of works by famous Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi. Additionally, a small ice church is added to the complex, presumably for those seeking out eccentric wedding venues.

Last year, a night in a double room was about US$35 – all bathroom facilities are in the nearby Balea Lake Chalet. No word on this year’s tariffs.

I understand that while staying in an ice hotel can be quiet cool (forgive me), apparently it’s one of those things where once is enough and you’ll want to spend the rest of your visit in the chalet. Though the sheep fur-lined ice beds are supposed to be cozy, it’s probably safe to assume that your nightie will never leave your suitcase.

Workers hired from nearby villages harvest the ‘construction ice’ from Lake Balea.

To get to the Ice Hotel area, you have to drive up to Balea Cascade, near the Transfagaras Road, leave your car there (the roads beyond are too dangerous to traverse by car in winter) and take a cable car up to Balea Lake and the hotel complex. If piecing this adventure together yourself is too draining, British-based Untravelled Paths arranges package trips.

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