Overnighting in an igloo at an altitude of 2,000m? That’s something to tell the folks back home! Is it a romantic experience or more of an adventure, and is it really as cold as you imagine? Our blogger Gesa dared to test the Eskimo experience to answer your questions.
Have you ever been skiing on the Leisure Mount Ahorn and seen people carrying suitcases across the snow? That’s strange, you might have thought. However, now you know where those people were headed: to the igloo village at the White Lounge. Behind the large igloo which, during the day, is a bar for skiers with chill out music and amazing views, are seven smaller igloos where guests can spend the night. Each igloo has space for up to 4 people. I am so excited to be one of the lucky people who get to experience this unusual hotel stay. But, what exactly is it like? Come with me and to enjoy an overnight stay at the igloo hotel White Lounge on the Leisure Mount Ahorn in Mayrhofen.
The afternoon before – the excitement is building:
On the day of our overnight stay, my boyfriend and I are excitedly skiing circuits on the Ahorn, lovingly nicknamed the “leisure mountain”. It’s nice and quiet on the slopes and the views are breathtaking, but I’m still a little nervous. Nervous because I can’t stop wondering if tonight I’ll be snug and warm or freezing cold. My theory: most people think it’ll be cold, but, in reality, it is toasty warm. My fear: It is just going to be damned cold. However, it’ll be a while until I find out the truth. First we will enjoy several hot drinks, an evening meal, a few warming up games, and a romantic candlelit walk through the snow. But first things first:
It’s 4pm as we enjoy the last home run to the valley. While the other skiers traipse to their cars, sad that the day is over, my boyfriend and I grin excitedly at each other and head back up the mountain in the gondola. When we arrive at the White Lounge, our neighbours are already waiting for us. Together, we raise a glass to the experience and exchange the usual small talk to get to know each other. Where do you come from and have you been here before? After that Sophia and Isabelle, our hosts on the mountain who are on call throughout the night, invite us to come outside for some winter games.
The Igloo – a place where time stands still?
I now realise that I feel completely at ease in the igloo. Apart from the music, inside it is really peaceful and quiet. As soon as you enter, you are transported into another world, far from the hectic pace of everyday life. A gentle peace surrounds me, as the ice absorbs all noise. I can’t hear what Franz is saying to his wife on the other side of the igloo. I have no idea if a storm is raging outside, if it is snowing, or if the sun is shining. In the igloo it is as if time is standing still. However, as I leave the igloo, the wind blows through my clothes and the snow hits me in the face. Wow, it’s cold! We play the games anyway, shooting perfectly round snowballs (the type you always dreamed of as a kid) with a catapult at a screen with a hole in the middle. Nobody gets a snowball in the hole, but it doesn’t matter- it was great fun trying!
Eskimo tips to get you through the night:
Back in the igloo, the girls give us a few tips and tricks to overnighting in an igloo. For example, they advise us that it’s best to sleep naked! Nervous twitterings of quiet horror can be heard through the group, but it’s true: creating an air cushion between my body and the sleeping bag will help to keep me warm. We should put our clothes for the next day in between us and our sleeping bag so that they will be warm in the morning. We’ll see if this trick works! Some coupes ask if it’s possible to join two sleeping bags together and keep warm by cuddling. They are disappointed to hear that, whilst possible, most couples don’t manage to sleep the night like this. There is just too much room for warm air to escape and cold air to get in! And anyway, everyone has to sleep in their own fleece sleeping bag for hygiene reasons. Maybe our overnight stay will be more adventure than romantic getaway!
The evening programme:
Around 7pm, we start to get hungry. We toboggan the few hundred metres to the Freiraum restaurant at the top station of the Ahorn where tonight we will enjoy a fondue as special guests. Special guests because, since the cable car has stopped running, we are the only guests in the restaurant. From now on, we are alone up here. All alone and at one with nature. We tuck into our meal with gusto, dipping the morsels of food into the hot oil. However, we shy away from drinking too much for fear of having to make a late night trip to use “the facilities”. Of course, the toilets aren’t in the igloos themselves but a good 100 metres walk through the snow! The only small mercy – they are heated.
After we have eaten our full, I am longing for my igloo bed. I want to finally know what it will be like. Cold or warm? Warm or cold? But, before I can find out, I am handed a lighted candle for a romantic candlelit walk through the new snow. To our left we have a fantastic view of the lights of Mayrhofen in the valley below, under our feet we feel the crunch of the snow.
The night in an igloo is upon me:
Then finally, at about 11pm, the time has come: I open the portal to my bed chamber and come one step closer to finding out the truth. I hesitate a little – I don’t really want to strip off in temperatures of -1° C. Is this really a good idea? I close my eyes, hold my breath and undress as quickly as possible. I leap into my sleeping bag and…wait. I’m waiting to get warm. I’m still waiting… it is really freezing cold. Why am I doing this to myself? But then, less than 10 minutes later I realise I am warming up. Apart from my nose, I am suddenly cosy and warm! The trick: Despite being naked in the sleeping bag, you keep your hat and neck warmer on. The sleeping bag should be closed as tightly as possible with just a tiny peephole left open, then you are ready to fall asleep. The only thing is, it wouldn’t be very easy to go to the toilet now. So, I fall asleep, dreaming of not being able to go to the toilet… great!
The morning after:
At 8 o’clock sharp, someone knocks gently at our door: “Good morning”, sings a cheerful voice. What a great service! She brings us our ski boots which were kept warm overnight in the cellar. Where am I? Did I really sleep so long and deep? Apparently so. But now I am wide awake – the deserted valley run awaits us. The first thing we want to do is enjoy the privilege of skiing first tracks on the pristine piste. We jump out of our sleeping bags, quickly put on our ski gear, walk out of our igloo and straight onto the piste. Wow! There is not a soul to be seen other than us – it’s a dream come true!
After doing the home run, if you still have a valid ski pass, you can take the cable car back up the mountain to enjoy a small breakfast. But, be warned; butter and Nutella are pretty difficult to spread in these temperatures. I’d almost forgotten how cold it is up here. My conclusion: An overnight stay in an igloo will definitely be cold, but it will also be warm. That aside, between all of the “what am I doing here?”, “why am I doing this?” and “wow, this is amazing!” the adventure is totally worth it.
Things to know:
Although the temperature in the igloos is only -1°C, the sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm in temperatures as low as -30°C! The fleece liners and pillow cases are washed daily, and don’t only serve as a hygiene layer but also provide additional warmth.
The price of an overnight stay includes a return ticket on the Ahorn. The latest you can arrive is with the last cable car up the mountain, i.e. at 4.30pm.
White Lounge Basic Package from 139€ per person
White Lounge Romance Package from 369€ for two people
Drinks with the evening meal are not included.
Warm ski clothing
Hat, gloves and sunglasses
Would you like to try out an adventure on the Ahorn? Then visit: www.mayrhofner-bergbahnen.com/de/highlights/white-lounge
Book your igloo at: www.mayrhofen.at/urlaub/iglu-uebernachtung/