I like tourist attractions about as much as I like the crusty bit that gathers around the top of a bottle of ketchup. They’re overpriced, overrated and usually full of people shoving each other out of the way with hopes of leaving with the same identical photo… Needless to say, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic when it came to visiting London’s ‘ICEBAR’. “Isn’t it just going to feel like standing in the frozen section of the supermarket?” I huffed to my much less cynical reviewing buddy.
Up until this point, by the way, I was completely unaware that London even had an ice bar. I’d passed one in Barcelona – and had no doubt scoffed at such a naff tourist trap – but it turns out ice bars are a worldwide phenomenon… They must be doing something right, I thought as I rounded the corner to London’s very own ‘ICEBAR’, situated down a side street in Mayfair.
Before entering the ice bar we were encouraged to have a drink in it’s antithesis – the ‘fire bar’. Don’t worry, you aren’t forced to step into an oven – the fire bar is in fact a chic, warmly lit cocktail bar. There’s nothing tacky or touristy about it – actually, it fits right in with the plush bars in Mayfair. On this particular day it was sunny so we decided to enjoy the real fireball in the sky and drink ours on the seats outside. My friend went for a rainbow pina colada which was like a much healthier (and vegan friendly) version of the traditional pina colada, and tasted lighter, and drastically better due to it’s dairy-free-ness. I went for the equally as good ‘suicide blonde’, which was a concotion of vodka, elderflower, prosecco and lime.
We weren’t going to order food, but one glance at their Japanese themed menu and we were sold. We weren’t big on the fried okra which was a bit bland, although the accompanying mayo dip almost makes them worth it. The crispy tofu rolls with sweet chilli dipping sauce, on the other hand, were a-mazing, so much so that we were tempted to order an extra portion.
Well fed and starting to burn, it seemed like a great time to cool down in the ice bar. On your way in you’re handed a big hooded cloak with gloves, so it’s OK to leave your Arctic wear at home!
Well, If we were feeling slightly sluggish after sitting in the heat drinking cocktails, our systems were shocked into high alert in an instant. They say a cold shower a day is good for you – I reckon a blast in the ice bar is just as good.
We were told that we had 40 minutes inside, but this all depends on your tolerance of course. With the walls and tables all made of ice, the ice bar really err, does what it says on the tin. Thankfully they have held back on turning the floor into an ice rink – I’m not exactly a pro skater, never mind skating after drinking!
Somewhere between sipping on my drink (in a glass made of ice, obvs) and forcing strangers to take photos of us as I shouted ‘I am the ice queen’ on a throne made of ice, I had the horrifying realisation that I might actually be enjoying this (but don’t tell anyone ok? Let it never be known that I enjoyed a lame tourist attraction!!!)
In all seriousness, it’s hard not to be sucked into an atmosphere when everyone around you is so happy. Maybe these cloaks really do have magic powers – the power to revert full grown adults back to their child-like selves – I thought, as I watched them (and myself!) leap from sculpture to sculpture in delight. To be fair, the sculptures are seriously impressive, and we’re told that they change every six months.
As we step back into the real world and reluctantly part with our cloaks I feel a bit like a boring old muggle again. Okay, I wouldn’t choose to go to the Ice Bar every day – it’s definitely a ‘try it once for the novelty’ kind of experience, but if you want a change of scenery, an escape from the heat or even if you just want somewhere to have a drink after a long day of shopping in Oxford Street, you can look forward to good food, delicious cocktails and an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!
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