Stockholm: Icebar really lets patrons chill out
Stars and Stripes October 21, 2004
Few bars have as high a cool factor as one dimly lit drinks emporium in downtown Stockholm, Sweden. It’s small. Customers are only allowed to stay 45 minutes. And reservations are a must.
Frankly, it’s so cool, it’s frosty. Icy, even. So much so that the Icebar’s very existence depends on its reputation as being the place to chill, literally, in what amounts to an arctic cave in the middle of Sweden’s capital city.
Located in Stockholm’s Nordic Sea Hotel, the Icebar lives up to its name. Its walls, interior fittings, counters and even the glasses are made of ice. The decorative statues are made of ice. And to keep out the 23-degree Fahrenheit cold, customers, who pay 125 Swedish kroner (about $17) for entry and a drink, are handed capes, mittens and boots to put on before they go in.
While there’s a time limit on how long guests can stay — probably because of the lines of eager customers waiting to get in — the fur-hatted bartenders tend to work two- to six-hour shifts, says bar manager Patrik Grundstrom. “We have lots of clothes on, so the number of hours is not a problem,” he said.
The ice comes from Sweden’s Torne River to the north. Glasses are cut out of ice blocks and delivered to the Icebar, along with the blocks that form its walls. After the glasses are used once, they are melted down.
Since its opening in June 2002, Stockholm’s big chill, owned by the same organization that operates the better-known Icehotel Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden, has drawn some 150,000 customers. For the locals, however, the Icebar is not a regular watering hole.
“It’s not a place where you can go for an impulse drink,” says James Savage, an Englishman who has lived in Stockholm for a year. “You can’t just pop in.”
Stockholm residents typically visit once to investigate the novelty, and then later to show off this latest tourist attraction to visiting friends.
Limited to a capacity of 30 people at a time, the bar doesn’t host any live music, and the entertainment comes from marvelling at the ice fixtures, downing a cold beverage (Absolut Vodka is a bar sponsor), listening to recorded disco music, and watching other guests do the same.
Since its inauguration, the Icebar has hosted its own birthday parties and one in honor of Stockholm’s 750th anniversary, but it’s not a place that lends itself to be rented out for parties.
“It would have to be a very intimate party, and a very short one,” says Savage.
Open year-round, the bar’s business season is from May to August — but chillin’ in a place this cool never goes out of season.
DeeDee Doke is a freelance writer living in England.
If you go ...
Venue: The Icebar
Location: Nordic Sea Hotel, Stockholm
Address: Vasaplan 2-4
Entry fee: Swedish kronor 125 (about $17)
Reservations: (+46) (0)850-56- 3000 or (+46) (0)850-56-3124 or e-mail Icebar@nordichotels.se
— DeeDee Doke