LWSY Iglu-Dorf Gstaad
How often do you receive an invitation to an Ice Hotel? I’ve been to Gstaad a few times this past summer and winter seasons, but an overnight stay at Iglu-Dorf Gstaad had me jumping up and down for months prior to flying out.
During the winter season, The Gstaad Palace Hotel offer a joint winter experience to combine a stay in their hotel with the opportunity to spend a night at Iglu-dorf, a seasonal Igloo Village high in the mountains. You’ll be collected at the train station by the Palace transfer for a 3 minute drive up the mountain to their iconic Palace hotel. Acclimatise into mountain life at the hotel before a nights stay at Iglu-dorf.
I took a midday flight from Gatwick (in my Penelope Chilvers SCOUT BOOTS above) and landed in Geneva to meet the French who flew from Paris. The Goldenpass train line takes you on the most beautiful journey into the mountains in their panoramic carriage, along Lake Geneva high into the mountains.
‘Come up & Slow Down’ is the motto in Gstaad, and after a night or two at the Palace (see my post from last year here) you will be whisked to the cable cars by the hotel car service for a 4pm meet time which allows you to have a full day on the slopes before your night in the Igloo.
You meet outside Bergrestaurant, Saanerslochgrat, the restaurant at the top of the cable car that starts below the Saanewald Lodge, and you’ll be met by your host who walks you down to the Igloo Village just a few minutes from the top of the cable car.
Iglu-dorf is open throughout the day for drinks so as we (only 8) guests arrived, there were just a handful of people who watched the sun set with us before they skied down the last run of the day. Once they’re gone, the mountain is yours.
Igloo-dorf Gstaad with it’s tunnels of rooms can sleep up to 42, so we were in for a treat as such a small group. A mix of French/Brit (us), a couple from Singapore, and two German couples. Everyone is friendly, but you can keep to yourself and dine on your own if you wish.
Prior to your stay, you’re sent a strict packing list, so take a backpack and you can leave all your other clothing at the hotel. If you ski to the meeting point, you can leave your skis and boots in the warm room at the restaurant above the Igloo Village. The best bit here is that you’re the first on the slopes the next day.
The packing list is fairly obvious stuff, 2 hats (one WILL get wet in the hot tub, which you WILL want to go in to warm up), thermals, toothbrush etc. There are bathrooms, so you can brush your teeth. It was -10 degrees on the night of our stay, and the extra windchill does get to you if you go outside, so wrap up at all times.
Take my advice and spend a few days at The Gstaad Palace first, this way you can take just what is required on the packing list to the Igloo for your overnight stay for a stress free experience. Plus, returning to the hotel the next morning is a true indulgence, the hotel’s car service will meet you at the bottom of the slopes the following morning.
Once you’re walked down to the Igloo Village, grab a Glühwein (first one is on the house), and settle down on a bean bag to watch the magnificent sunset. You get a good 45 minutes to just take it all in before the chill starts to set in.
Every year the Iglu-dorf commissions ice sculptors to create the theme of the season at each of their Igloo locations in Davos-Klosters, Engberg, Stockhorn, Zermatt, Zugspitze and Andorra. This year the igloo theme in Gstaad was entitled ‘Travel to the Southern Hemisphere and experience Down Under out of snow and ice’. Carvings of Koala Bears and didgeridoos intricately decorated the rooms and restaurant.
I was lucky to be to be kitted out in Canada Goose’s Snow Mantra Parka, the warmest coat on earth, Ridge Pant trousers, and Jimmy Choo Snow Choo Moonboots to keep me fabulously warm and a little bit glam in Gstaad.
To the back of the Igloo camp you’ll find the warm room (to keep your clothes in overnight) the sauna and (disco – all kinds of flashing lights) jacuzzi. During your welcome, and safety run though, it’s advised to have a steam and dip before bed to warm you right though before hot-footing it in your thermals back to your arctic sleeping bag.
The walls are 2m thick in places, so safe they say, you can drive over the top and you’ll be ok inside.
The restaurant above…
There are 5 room categories at the igloo. The Palace will ensure you’re checked in to the Romantic Suite. I’d love to come back with friends and share the Family Igloo which was a wonderful larger room. You also have the Standard Igloo, Romantic Igloo, Romantic Plus, and Romantic Suite. The higher category igloos have bathrooms, and more elaborate ice carvings, speakers, and a basket of amenities. Above and below show the incredible Romantic Suite with it’s own private warm room and hot tub. Oh, and the best bit in all the igloos are the USB chargers in your platform beds to charge your phones and cameras.
The rooms are a fair distance apart from each other, with a thick Swiss blanket fashioned to make a curtain for privacy. Your single or double arctic sleeping bag sits on a raised platform (crates topped with a mattress, blankets and sheepskins). You do stay warm in the night, so not to panic.
Our in-room Koala
A central fireplace runs throughout the night here just outside the igloo if you need to warm up…
Before dinner we’re taken on a stargazing hike for around an hour. To have the mountain to yourself, just padding through the deep snow was a memory that’ll last forever. The moon made the snow glisten like it was sprinkled with diamonds, truly magical.
For dinner, we chose to sit together instead of with the group. A quiet corner was prepared for us, and we enjoyed a bottle of Swiss wine with our fondue. A soup station is set up as a reminder to drink lots of fluids and keep warm as the altitude can play a little with your head.
After warming up near the fire after dinner, it was time to bravely enter the sauna with a bucket of snow. The fellow guests seemed to all consider each others space so we took it in turns to enjoy the sauna and jacuzzi before bed.
After dinner, you’re reassured if you need anything at all that the overnight host is in his cabin, and we’d be woken early in the morning with hot tea, and not to forget to wear our hats to bed. Torn between leaving your clothes in the warm room or wearing them to get from the hot tub to your igloo, I bravely sprinted back to my igloo in favour of wanting warm clothes in the morning!
Right on cue at sunrise, we were woken with tea and asked to meet outside the igloo to take in the morning light, and make the short walk up to the local mountain restaurant for a traditionally Swiss breakfast.
My only comment would be to be given a bit more time in the morning before leaving. The morning was so peaceful it seemed a shame to have had to leave at 8am so quickly. On the plus side it meant we were warming up at the Gstaad Palace by 10am.
Breakfast was simple and warming, and set us up for another beautiful day.
Having woken up to James Bond the next morning, I was excited to race down the mountain to check in to the Gstaad Palace Hotel for one last night in Switzerland.
The Gstaad Palace
The famous Grand Marnier soufflé being served to us in le Grill restaurant…
The ultimate weekend breakfast the next morning…
With thanks to the Gstaad Palace Hotel for arranging our stay at Iglu-dorf, Goldenpass train lines for supporting my travel to Gstaad, and to Canada Goose, Sweaty Betty, Jimmy Choo, and Penelope Chilvers for keeping me from freezing to death whilst I was out there.
To arrange your combined Gstaad Palace Hotel stay with an Iglu-dorf experience just contact firstname.lastname@example.org