London's Icebar started off as one of the first pop up venues, a cool (ha ha) gimmick for the Christmas season 2005, brought to us by Absolut and the Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel (that hotel in Sweden that's made and remade each year, entirely of ice.). The ice had to be shipped over from the Torne River in Jukkasjarvi – this is the ice they Ice Hotel prefers for its crystal clear qualities.
That first year the organisers discovered that Londoners had a real appetite for sitting in room made of ice, kept at temperatures of minus five or lower. So they kept it on, re-doing the design of the all-ice interior once a year to keep the venue looking fresh and funky. Even though everything from the chairs to the bar to the glasses are made of ice, the design still needs an update every now and then, and every time it's re-done it gets a theme make over. And don't think that it's just one bar-scape or another – the designers do all sorts of interactive and interesting things in ice, so it's as much about the sculpture as it is about the unusual experience of being surrounded by ice.
The bar's unique conditions mean there are a few more rules than even your average West End bar. Firstly there are times sessions of 40mins, with tickets priced at £14, £16 or £24 depending on when you go and what you're planning on drinking. At the beginning of your session you're 'got up' in your hot outfit care of the Icebar: this is a thermal cape thing with matching gloves. Your session ticket also includes your own ice glass and your drink, which will be a cocktail. Once you're in drink refills are £6 for regular cocktails and £ for champagne cocktails. If you need to buy a new glass they're £4 – if you're not careful you can melt them!
Of course most places would want to keep you for more than 40mins, so there's a restaurant and bar at more comfortable temperatures where you can prepare yourself by stocking up on some food in advance to keep you warm, or replenishing the energy you expended keeping yourself the right temperature.
It's better if you book in advance, especially if you have a group but you don't have to. It pays to be organised though, there's a discount on prepaid tickets.
Kids can come in too as there are non-alcoholic drinks... They say the memories will be frozen into your mind... Forgive us all the chilly puns...