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Absolut Ice Bar (London)
Member Name: bettyboop2002
Absolut Ice Bar (London)
Advantages: Something different, looks good
Disadvantages: Not for everyone
31-33 Heddon Street
I didn't find this bar at all easy to find, the nearest underground stations are Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. We only found it with the help of some kind of mobile phone map application. Asking locals and street vendors nobody had heard of Heddon Street.
It's a small street that you would easily walk past which is off Regents Street so leave yourself with a little spare time if you are not familiar with the area, or use a map.
We visited on a Saturday, which costs £16. Booking in advance for any other day would cost £12.50. This price includes your first drink in the ice bar for a 40 minute session. If you would like a champagne drink there is a £4 supplement. Any refills were around £6.50.
You enter the bar in a "warm bar" where we were greeted by some friendly staff who crossed our names off the list, gave us a ticket and told us to go into the warm bar. If you haven't pre-booked there is a desk to pay just inside the bar. They will also take any bags you may have to put into a safe room. If I were to go again I would go later, we turned up early enough to have a drink in the warm bar before going into the ice room and this made the change in temperature much more drastic!
When your group's time arrives you will queue to have a large coat with a furry hood and mittens attached before you enter.
INSIDE THE BAR
The bar is smaller than expected, it looks really good, with the bar, walls, tables and decor appearing to be made of ice. Apparently they are but there were a few suspicions about the bar and tables. The lighting changes colour and it's really fun with some interesting ice sculptures.
You take your ticket up to the bar to claim your free drink. The drink menu is hard to see as it's black and the bar is quite dark. There were a couple of choices of cocktails either gin, bourbon, vodka, rum or tequila based. There were some strange combinations and the drinks come in some very bright colours. I opted for a bright red tequila based drink and there were also a couple of slimey green coloured vodka and kiwi drinks.
The drinks come in an ice glass and were smaller than expected, more like a large shot than a cocktail, we understood why when we started drinking as they are very strong.
There is music in the bar and luckily some leather seat covers so you don't get a freezing behind. You could wander around the bar in 2 minutes taking pictures of the different ice areas and then after that you can fight over one of the limited number of seats of stand on the very sticky floor.
The bar staff were really friendly and it was nice too see but the time seemed to drag after a while and I felt in danger of becoming one of the ice sculptures.
There is a button to press if you want to leave the bar before your time is up. I lasted longer than some but left with about 8 minutes remaining as I had finished my drink, didn't really want another and would have had to rush it.
When you leave they will take your coats off for you and you are free to stay in the warm bar. We stayed for some Irish coffees to warm up, these weren't over priced and were nice. They also offered bar food and had a restaurant. We didn't stay for these as everything seemed a bit fancy and expensive for a bit of lunch. The menu is fairly limited and although it looked nice enough there are so many restaurants in the area that this wasn't one that would've suited all of our needs.
There were 12 of us in the ice bar and the opinions were extremely mixed, some had left after 10 minutes, others stayed until the end. One of the older women in the group loved it and said it's an experience not to be missed. I wouldn't go back again, once you've seen it you've seen it and I'm still thawing out days later.
I also think it would be better for small groups, the layout of the bar and the seating doesn't really suit large groups.
The drinks seemed very strong at first and the refills were expensive considering they were small. A couple of the group didn't like their drinks, left them after a few minutes and walked out so it was a complete waste for them.
It may seem like a silly thing to say, but I expected the coats and gloves to keep me warm but I was far from it. I found 40 minutes too long, I thought it'd be the opposite. After 20 minutes I definitely couldn't feel my hands and feet and the drinks were finished and photos taken.
I would recommend it as it's not something you're likely to do very often and it is something different.
I think if you book in advance and get the £12.50 tickets and go in the summer it'd be a nice experience for a smaller group. It's one you'd have to see for yourself but I personally would rather be sat in front of a fire with a pint.
Summary: Wrap up warm!