While visiting Venice, we met an Australian family who was traveling around Europe for two months. They told us how they had stayed overnight in an igloo in Zermatt, Switzerland. Right away we thought, “We have to do that!” Zermatt is a ski resort, where we had wanted to visit and hit the slopes. A bonus? They have an igloo village, called Iglu Dorf, 2,700 meters up the mountain. After reading all of the material and knowing what we’d be getting ourselves into, we scheduled our stay in the igloo for the first night of our time in Zermatt.
Introduction to our Igloo Accommodations
We arrived at the hotel’s meeting point (also halfway up the mountain) a little early so we could enjoy a nice lunch and soak in the bright sun.
Our guide came around 5pm and gave us instructions. We took the train one stop up, and we emerged into endless snowy possibilities! In the distance, we heard reggae music and saw smoke rising from a makeshift chimney.
We trekked our way to the igloo village, and we were amazed by the little area in front of us. A series of perfectly shaped domes laid before us with two rows of outdoor lounge chairs from. We couldn’t wait to sit there and gaze at the Matterhorn. Our excitement was hard to contain.
The staff greeted us with spiced mulled wine in mugs. We spent the next hour lounging in the warm sun (it was about 5 degrees Celsius, 41 degrees Fahrenheit), watching the sun slowly make its way behind the Matterhorn. Three other couples joined us: two were from Switzerland and one was from Italy (Naples, no less!). We all got along right away and knew that this was going to be a night to remember.
Around 7 we went inside the igloo, which maintains a temperature of around 0 degrees Celsius. After our eyes adjusted to the lowered light, we looked around the common areas. Beautiful ice sculptures and etched wall art seemed to be around every corner. Candles in small nooks illuminated the rooms. There were many areas for people to sit down, with the chairs and stools covered in sheepskins to keep warm.
The guide gave our small group a tour of the rooms, including other available rooms in case someone wanted to upgrade. We were very happy with our “romantic plus” room; the “plus” being that we had a private “toilet.” There were rooms without this, like the standard room (sleeps six and they will fill it with whoever signs up for it) and the romantic room (just like ours without a toilet), and rooms that had much more (romantic plus suite) with a private jacuzzi and sauna.
Fondue in an Igloo!
After we returned to the main area, the bar was officially open, and we drank the hot spiced wine and tea to keep us warm. Dinner was all you can eat cheese fondue… my favorite! I was obviously very happy with this!
The Swiss showed us how to properly eat the fondue. This included getting the “grandma” at the bottom of the bowl (the melted, hard piece of cheese you need to scrape out), and using your hands to take the bread from the bowl and put it on your plate, rather than using your fondue fork to poke a piece of bread from the main bowl. The Swiss also didn’t have other accompaniments to the fondue besides bread, which was totally fine!
Showshoeing Under the Stars
Snowshoeing was next on the agenda. The bright moonlight and stars illuminated the snow in front of us. The tranquility and brightness very much reminded me of my time in the desert in Israel, though about 30 degree Celsius colder!
The guide occasionally stopped and pointed out the constellations. Towards the end, she pulled out two bottles of liquor. One of them was grappa, and she even had plastic shot glasses. High on the mountain, snowshoes on our feet, we took shots of liquor. It tasted very much like slivovitz, which reminded me of many wonderful family Passovers, but with a little less burn. While we took our second shots, we looked over and saw the Swiss couple swigging it from the bottle. We did not join them, although we did think about it…
Later that night, we hopped into the outdoor jacuzzi with the Swiss couple and drank a few glasses of champagne while we talked about different travel experiences around the world.
In the jacuzzi next to us was the Neapolitan couple. They were drinking their free bottle of champagne because the husband went into the main igloo with only a bathing suit on and no shoes (a challenge presented to us at the beginning of the night).
At around 12am, we decided it was time for us to go to our igloo… a long day of traveling, high altitudes, and a bunch of alcohol made us a little light headed. Plus, we wanted to be ready for a full day of skiing the next day.
What it’s Like to Sleep in an Igloo
Back in our room, we quickly became aware of how cold the room was. But we soon felt pretty toasty in our sleeping bags, which were meant to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. We zipped them up so just our faces were showing and went right to sleep. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the greatest night of sleep on the hard surface.
Soon, it was 7:45 and the guide came into our room with hot tea to wake us up. We had 20 minutes to meet outside, so we fumbled through our layers of clothing and shoes, some of which we had put at the bottom of the bag to keep warm. Quickly, we packed up our backpacks and got ready for the day!
Breakfast was at the hotel down the mountain, and to our surprise we were getting there via individual sleds! Sledding down the same mountain that people would soon SKI down was fantastic! It definitely woke us up a bit!
We arrived at the hotel and stepped into the warm heat that we hadn’t felt in quite some time. A large array of breakfast items lay before us, and we dove right in. We chatted with our new friends while enjoying some of Switzerland’s specialties. It all went by so fast and before we knew it, it was time to go. The train took us down the mountain to Zermatt where we were to start the next part of our vacation.
Summing up our Stay in an Igloo
Overall, we had an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, staying in an igloo village!
Would we do it again? Probably not. Not because we didn’t enjoy it, but we feel it’s something that’s only meant to be done once. The sheer novelty of Iglu-Dorf, friendly couples from around the world, the food, and different activities made this an unforgettable experience for us.