We stayed here at the end of March after purchasing a groupon travel deal with Untravelled Paths. Usually we would not book with a tour company, preferring to travel independently, but were very happy with the decision to travel via tour for this trip. Arriving at the mountain we were escorted by cable car up to the top, where we would stay for the next two nights. There is a short walk from the cable car to the cabana (through ice and deep snow, so I would not recommend bringing a huge bag unless you can carry it whilst also balancing on the ice!) The views were incredible, so the short walk is more than bearable even with luggage - it's half the fun to skid everywhere! Once at the cabana we were promptly given keys for our room by the friendly staff there and were told, if we wanted, we were able to stay there for both nights if we decided we no longer wanted to stay in the ice hotel. The room here was adequate, with ensuite bathroom, lovely warm shower, a comfortable bed and THE most amazing view of the mountains. Perfect. The only negative was our room wasn't particularly clean...the beds were made but the bathroom was left in a bit of a state from the previous guests. This didn't bother us to begin with as at first it was merely a place to store our bags whilst we explored and then stayed the night in the ice hotel, but I would have expected the room to be cleaned the next day when we were staying the night there and it wasn't.
This aside, we could not have been happier with what lay ahead. As soon as we arrived at the cabana, we were told which room we would be staying in in the Ice Hotel and my friend and I were allocated 'Candy Land.' Amazing! Our room was full of intricate carvings (including an owl, ice cream, candy canes, and a huge head (?!)), with a double bed and lights around the edges. There is only a curtain to seperate you from the main room (where we also ate dinner that night - an experience - and had drinks at the ice hotel bar) so I would have thought the noise from other guests would have woken us up the next day but it's surprising how sound proof our little ice cave was! We were told that when we were ready to go to bed that night, to let any one of the workers know and they would get our sleeping bags ready for us, bringing them to our room so we didn't have to drag them through the snow. We wrapped up warm - I had a thermal vest, a long sleeved top, a t-shirt, a big jumper and the provided sleeping bag - and tried to get a good nights sleep in th unusual surroundings. Despite getting used to wearing so much clothing to bed and the odd realisation that you are sleeping on a big block of ice (albeit with wood slabs, mattresses, fur and blankets in between you) I actually managed to get quite a good nights sleep. The only negative is the toilet is located outside in the cable car station, and I didn't fancy treking through two foot of snow at 5am to use it...plan in advance!
It was definately a great experience and one to cross of the 'things-to-do' list so I would definately suggest going. Bring a book though, or something else to amuse yourself, because if you're stuck in a snow storm/blizzard/just get plain sick of the cold, there's really not much else to do apart from eat/drink in the restaurant (cheap food and cheap beer! One particularly very friendly waitress as well, who was always smiling and giving great service).
At the end of our trip, we were given clear instructions when to meet to get transported to the other side of the mountain via cable car the next day and had no trouble getting across. However, after taking the cable car back to 'the other side', we were greeted by probably about a hundred people trying to catch the cable car up to the top of the mountain so felt lucky we hadn't had to queue at all for it! Others weren't so lucky!
If booking with Untravelled Paths, especially with the groupon voucher, make sure you also book the shuttle bus back to Sibiu with them (it's not included in the deal) as I'm not sure how you would get back otherwise. It's pretty isolated. I'm glad to have stayed there but think it was more of a once-in-a-life-time experience then somewhere we would return too. Geat fun though!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Faragas Mountains provide a perfect backdrop for the Balea Lac Ice Hotel. Its remote location, at over 2000m is reached only by cable car making it an exclusive 10 room hotel. Set amidst breathtaking scenery, the Ice Hotel is rebuilt every year and the views and silent nights make a visit to the Ice Hotel a must. The stunning Ice Church is a short walk away. Activities: Sledging, snow mobile, skiing. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ice Hotel Romania Fagaras