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Octavian D
Bucharest, Romania

great experience - needs careful planning

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 19 Jun 2018
An experience kids insisted on having after learning there is an ice hotel in Romania. And we went for it.

We’ve booked an Igloo directly on the website of the hotel about two weeks in advance. We had been told there’s the hotel with double rooms and the restaurant – and there’s the igloos where we would get more privacy and this would be more suitable for a family with kids. And we took the advice and booked Johann Straus Igloo.

About 5 hours drive from Bucharest (onward via Predeal/Rasnov) we arrived at the Balea Cascada cable car at 3PM. Heavy traffic on DN1, as usual.



The cable car
During the winter, one can only get to the Balea Lac are by cable car – the roads are closed. And at the cable cars (1976 built and no visible upgrades) takes 15 people every 12 minutes. Hence, there’s huge waiting time to go up. Luckily, there’s two separate queues – one for cabins/hotel of ice guests – and another one for day visitors. Although… you must really struggle to get to the front if you are a guest and want to take the “fast lane”. The views from the cable car – really nice. Started from the clouds and then it all became clear blue skies and white mountains all over.

As for the cable car system. It is old, long queues, there’s old lower and upper stations. I suppose the whole experience is like driving a very old car – but a very good one. Which is not for every day, but could bring back good memories and is good every once in a while.

At the top – Balea Lac
We were at the top at 4PM and first we spent about 2 hours outside. The mountains here are impressive and I was really moved by their beauty. I felt all my thoughts, my everyday troubles, my past and my future dissolve when admiring these mountains. Difficult to express in words.

On the other side, there’s banana rides, snow-mobil rides. Music and warm drinks and food – to make everyone happy :( A tripadivsor reviewer called this “lack of respect for the mountain” – and I agree unfortunately.

We also went through the almost 1km tunnel getting to the other side of the mountain. We visited here the Refugiul Balea Lac – almost completely under snow, with a few people spending weekends here in a shared dormitory.



The Ice Hotel
The hotel is (obviously) built each year with a new theme. This year – famous musicians. It takes about 20 days to built it – in 2018 comprising a hotel with 14 rooms and a restaurant, three igloos and a church. There’s no doors inside the hotel – just small curtains. The beds are of ice, then a layer of wood on top of which there’s a mattress and some sheep skins.

Non-guests – daily visitors – pay a fee to visit the hotel during the day.

The Ice Hotel Experience
We spent time in the restaurant at Balea Lac from about 6PM to 8PM. Then at 8.15 we went to sleep – leaving our bags in a shared room – 25 – with the key always to remain on the bar.

We got two igloos – Bach and Strauss. The reason is… apparently the igloos had to be for 4-6 people with two beds and… Romanian execution of the plan turned them into double rooms with one single bed. The manager Daniel said he was at a tourism fair during the construction and when he returned, there was nothing he could do. Not sure whether to laugh or cry about this.

We tucked in and shortly felt asleep. Temperature 0 degrees Celsius. We had been provided with sleeping bags and many blankets. We had a first layer and pyjamas – and I actually had to remove the first layer and sleep in pyjamas only as it was too warm 🙁


It’s worth mentioning that the igloos were very quiet and apart from the other guests in the third igloo coming to sleep at 12PM, we heard nothing. Compared to the ice hotel, where, due to the bar there, apparently it was very loud and some other couple with four kids told us in the morning had troubles with other guests wanting to party and turning on loud speakers at 1.30AM. There was also a Valentines party in the cabana – that apparently lasted until 3AM. Unfortunately, this seems like/is a pattern in Romania in the mountains wherever people can easily get to by car or cable car. They want to party in the night, drink and listen to loud music. And one would think that cannot be the case in the Ice Hotel in the middle of the winter, still, apparently it is. Funny, coincidence or not, one of the sponsors of the hotel, whose name was written on the pillows/blanket is a beer brand.

We slept until 9AM, me waking up every 1-2 hours, then falling asleep again. It was not the kind of profound sleep I was expecting 🙂 still it was ok.


Final Thoughts
It was a good family experience. Not cheap but not too expensive as well. Kids loved it, the scenery was great. It somehow is the essence of tourism in Romania – great potential, infrastructure from before 1989, services at the level of 1989, most of the people still feel and act as if a day in the mountains can only be great with beer and loud music.
Date of stay: February 2018
Trip type: Travelled with family
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
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      17 - 22 of 340 reviews
      Reviewed 13 June 2018 via mobile

      We did this visit with secret Transylvania whom I would highly recommend. We were escorted by Bob who took great care of us. The day consisted of a tunnel trek with amazing views, tubing, and other fun ice activities. At night we were able to select the ice room we wanted to sleep in and took full advantage by having a meal in the ice restaurant and partying in the ice hotel. #areallycooltime

      Date of stay: February 2018
      Trip type: Travelled with family
      1  Thank Sharon M
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 5 June 2018 via mobile

      It was very good experience was very clean and quiet good services and good food nice hospitality and great staff very reliable easy to park beautiful surroundings a pleasure to deal with everything was taking you

      Date of stay: June 2018
      Trip type: Travelled with family
      Thank mayergruber
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 12 May 2018 via mobile

      Wow is the only word to describe this experience!
      We visited the Ice Hotel Romania as part of a package through Secret Transilvania, for our friends 50th birthday celebrations. I have to confess to being a little unsure as I'm a girl who likes her comfort and warmth! I'd say that booking through Secret Transilvania was where we struck lucky! From the moment we made contact with the wonderful Diana, I felt in the safest of hands..... And they certainly didnt disappoint!
      We were met at the airport and whisked off to their beautiful home in Sibiu where a warm welcome awaited. I'm talking roaring log fire, home made soup and plenty of liquid spirit to warm us up! After a lovely nights sleep, snuggled up in the cosy Secret Transilvania beds we were given a hearty breakfast (made to order) before being whisked off for our night of adventure at the ice Hotel.
      Our Secret Transilvania hosts could not do enough for us, and you could tell straight away how important it was to them that we enjoyed our experience.
      After a great trip up the mountains in the scenic cable car, we were given a tour of the hotel and shown around the area, learning more and more about this amazing pop up village as we went. We were then taken on an invigorating and thrilling trek through the snow, and in the capable care of our Secret Transilvania hosts Bob and Jez, we were given an experience to remember. All I'm saying is..... Wait for the Star Wars moment in the tunnel!! Unforgettable!
      Back to the cosy bar for some lunch and then off on the various rides including tobogganing and inflatable doughnut rides..... All at ridiculously cheap prices!
      After a few more drinks in the bar, it was time for dinner at the ice Hotel! The food was amazing quality and presented beautifully. If you've never sat on an ice chair, Up to an ice table eating fine food..... Where have you been?!
      Feeling a little apprehensive about the night ahead, sleeping on a block of ice, we soon snuggled down. Our laughter must have echoed across the mountains as we revelled in this unique experience and recalled memories of the wonderful day we had had.
      I'm the morning we were treated to a lovely breakfast before heading back to the Secret Transilvania House, where we spent the afternoon snuggled by the fire swapping ghost stories!
      As someone who doesnt like to move too far from a plug point for fear of needing the hair straighteners, I embaced this experience and made memories to last a lifetime.
      The key to this success..... Hands down - book through Secret Transilvania!! The hospitality, the knowledge, their warm and friendly welcome and the beautiful home just add up to ensure you have a once in a lifetime experience!
      Would I go back? I'm done with the cold to be honest, but I've already booked through Secret Transilvania again for a summer break Romanian style! I'm swapping my scarf for a bikini and my hot chocolate for a cocktail by the pool..... But I simply cannot wait to see Diana, Jez, Bob and Sue again!

      Date of stay: February 2018
      Trip type: Travelled with friends
      Thank Kelliebear
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 15 March 2018

      We visited the Ice Hotel in a large group for a 50th birthday celebration. everyone loved it.
      The Gondola ride to the top of the mountain is a little old but fun with lovely views. When you are at the top it's a very short walk to the chalet where they serve food and drink and it's he place where you can warm up and if you are getting cold. The food and drink there iis very cheap.

      The activities are great fun and my advise is to do all of them which works out to about £80 and it's well worth the money.

      The Ice Hotel itself is a wonderful experience the Ice chapel is amazing and the restaurant serves really good food topped off with dancing and drinking to about 10.30 at night. You then go over to the chalet which is 50 metres away to wam up before going back and going to bed in your Ice room which is themed with your own light switch and side light on a Ice table. You are told how to sleep on the ice bed with blankets skins and sleeping bag and during the night I had to remove clothing due to feeling to warm.

      Next morning we were woke up at 8 pm to go back to the chalet for a shower and a very good breakfast before going back down the mountain at about 11am.

      There wasn't one person in our group that never loved it and other guest we spoke to loved it too.

      If you're undecided don't be it's a MUST! do and a totally brilliant experience.

      Date of stay: March 2018
      Trip type: Travelled with friends
      3  Thank Millie M
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 12 March 2018

      An amazing place to visit. Facilities are basic, but perfectly acceptable. The ice restaurant is an absolute must - excellent food, great ambience, followed by drinks and dancing at the ice bar.
      We visited as a group of 10 with untravelled paths - the staff (guide and driver) were second to none. Activities are all well worth a try, with the snowmobiling being exhilarating and the tubing just hilarious!!
      It all sounds very cold, but I was actually hot in my ice bed and had a very good nights sleep.
      Very well worth a visit, to relax, enjoy the snow, the beautiful scenery and the amazing construction.

      Room tip: I think maybe it was loud due to our group!! But if you want a quieter room, opt for an igloo.
      Date of stay: March 2018
      • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
        • Value
        • Cleanliness
        • Service
      1  Thank Jessica Z
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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