“Superb - if chilly - igloo hotel at 2,700m in Zermatt, with an ice-cool bar, snowshoeing and toasty alfresco Jacuzzis”
The mountain dominates your visit - you arrive in the late afternoon and walk up to the village, watched over by the famous peak as the sun is setting, then you sit in wonder at its majesty as you soak in the perfectly positioned Jacuzzi. In the morning, you wake up to see it in all its rosy, sunrise magic. Inside, the igloo rooms are basic but fun, with sleeping bags on blocks of ice and carvings on the walls. All are connected by corridors leading to a small indoor bar, a dining area and a dance floor. There's even a Romantic Suite with private Jacuzzi, perfect for honeymooners!
- The novelty of sleeping in a room built entirely of ice is a memorable addition to a Swiss holiday, with options to suit solo travellers, couples, families and groups
- The view of the Matterhorn from the outdoor bar and the surrounding grounds
- Snowshoe walking at night under the stars, and warming up in one of the alfresco Jacuzzis afterwards
- The camaraderie with your fellow Iglu-Dorf guests - the open-air Igloo Bar is a particularly fun, sociable place to hang out (this area is also open to day visitors)
- The igloo village itself - an impressive 900sqm construction that takes 3,000 man hours to build annually (the ice melts in summer)
- The cold. It is very, very chilly (the igloo village is at a constant 0 degrees), so you need to wrap up extremely warm
- Needing the loo in the middle of the night - best avoided if possible, because for most guests it involves an outdoor hike; there are no showers, either. Understandably, most guests only stay 1 night
- The walk to the hotel meeting point from the train station: you have to trek some distance on the piste so don’t bring a big bag - see the recommended packing list
- Dining options are limited to an aperitif plate and cheese fondue (breakfast is taken at nearby Hotel Riffelhaus)
- The hotel requires full pre-payment at the time of booking, and is closed from late April until mid December. Also, you'll need cash for the bar, as they don't accept credit cards
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Winter-proof warm clothing and shoes i.e. skiing outfits, no jeans etc
- A scarf, good gloves and 2 hats (in case the first one gets wet) - you will need all these for sleeping in, trust us!
- Dry socks, long underwear and warm pyjamas
- Towel, flip-flops and swimwear for the Jacuzzis
- A torch / head-torch, toothbrush, sunglasses and sun-cream
- Cash (credit cards are not accepted in the igloo village)
- A rucksack to pack all the above in, as suitcases are not suitable for Iglu-Dorf Zermatt
- Igloo Hotel
- Half-board (snacks available on request)
- All ages welcome
- Closed: 27 Apr 2017 - 30 Nov 2017
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Outdoor space
The rooms at Iglu-Dorf range from Standard Igloos (dorm-style sleeping for up to 6 guests), through to Romantic Igloos (just for 2) and Romantic Plus Igloos (just for 2, with your own indoor loo), and the lavish Romantic Suite, which comes complete with its own loo, sitting area and private Jacuzzi with obligatory view of the Matterhorn.
The rooms to go for are the Romantic Plus Igloos, and it’s best to avoid the Standard Igloos unless you’re travelling solo or booking one exclusively for a group of 4-6 people. If you’re travelling with kids, the Family Igloos have plenty of space and offer good value (sleep 2 adults and up to 4 children).
Most of the rooms, apart from the Standard and Family Igloos, have huge ice carvings cut into their walls; when we visited there were lots of Greek gods and scantily clad women, but the theme changes each year. All rooms have their own electricity in the form of a small lamp. The corridor linking them is lined with artworks sunken into the snowy walls and frozen in ice - these range from arty bottles of vodka to small carvings. Apart from this, decoration is basic. Plump Arctic sleeping bags lie on top of ice plinths covered with faux-fur throws and sheepskin rugs and, well, that’s it really.
There are no showers and running water is very limited. Those staying in the Standard, Romantic and Family Igloos also don't have an ensuite. Instead, there’s a shared unisex toilet block just across the outdoor lounge area, where the bar is during the day. It’s a bit of a walk but the loos flush and are perfectly clean, plus the block is heated and has 2 sinks. If this sounds a little too much like hard work, the Romantic Plus Igloos and Romantic Suite all have private ensuite loos.
- Electric lamp
- Expedition sleeping bags and liners
Given that this is an igloo village, set in splendid isolation at 2,727m in the middle of a mountain, it's a wonder that food is on offer at all. But it is, if only rather basic options. The evening meal is a simple but delicious cheese fondue followed by chocolate brownies. You can eat as much as you like of either, although we challenge anyone to eat vast quantities of cheese fondue. An aperitif plate of cheese, garlic sausage, dried fruit and rye bread with a glass of Prosecco is also available at any time of day, and is included in some room rates.
There's an Igloo Bar which serves an impressive array of drinks, from flavoured vodkas to schnapps (recommended after the fondue), local white wine and beer, as well as an outdoor bar for daytime socialising. Alcoholic drinks cost extra (bring cash) but are fairly priced, and draw in lots of day visitors from the piste. There is also a tea bar which you can help yourself to all evening, stocked with a variety of herbal teas and powdered stock to make a light soup.
Breakfast is served at Hotel Riffelhaus after your night’s stay in the igloo village. It consists of fresh pastries, croissants, fruit, yoghurts, and a selection of hot options including eggs, bacon and sausages - perfect for warming up after a night on ice.
- Dinner included
A stay here is an activity in itself, but there are a few options to help keep you warm and the blood pumping:
- After dinner your guide will take you on a short snowshoe walk up the piste (included in the rates). It's quite magical to be on the mountain without any screaming skiers hurtling by, silently walking about under the stars with just the moon and the Matterhorn for company
- Back at the igloo you can jump in the Jacuzzi, which is properly hot and designed especially for warming you up before you climb into bed for the night. The views of the Matterhorn, once again, make stripping down to your swimwear in sub-zero temperatures well worth the discomfort
- If sleeping here isn't igloo-tastic enough, you can sign up for an igloo-building introductory workshop (additional cost). There are taster sessions that last an hour, or you can take on a bigger project lasting 3-5 hours
- Zermatt town has fantastic skiing and snowboarding, with 360km of slopes at your disposal. There's something for all levels here, and it's great fun to arrive at the igloo village on your skis or snowboard
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Igloo-building workshops
- Snowshoe walks
There is nothing specially set up for children, but little ones might really enjoy the experience of sleeping in an igloo. There is no age limit - it is up to parents whether they want to bring really small children - but we wouldn't recommend bring children under 5 years old (see our 'Families Should Know' section).
Family friendly accommodation:
The Family Igloo is the best bet. It can only be booked by families and is suitable for 2 adults and up to 4 children, though bear in mind this room does not have an ensuite loo. Sleeping bags can be zipped together for exchanging body warmth.
Families Should Know:
The igloo village has no running water and no showers, plus most rooms do not have ensuite toilets. Its temperature is kept at around 0 degrees, and the mountainside setting means it's not easy to leave if your children are cold or aren't sleeping well.
In the event of a medical incident, rescue transportation may take some time due to the exposed location and possible weather issues; no rescue transportation will be provided for minor injuries.