- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Sleep in an Igloo
Bring the right gear
Most outfits provide visitors with the proper equipment for staying through the night. In Kühtai, each person is assigned a mummy sleeping bag rated for 0º F temperatures and a fleece liner, a schema that's similar for each village around the globe.
That sleeping bag alone will keep most cozy throughout the night with one caveat: only one layer of clothing should be worn inside of the bag. Too many layers can result in sweat, which can freeze and actually make a person colder. A base layer such as a Smartwool Mid 250 or a Patagonia Capilene will almost always do the trick.
Underneath the sleeping bags, a series of sublayers is typically used for improving comfort on the packed-snow floor. A wooden base covered with a foam mattress and several layers of sheep skin was the magic combination in Austria.
It's also important to remember that outside of your warm bed, the entire experience – from walking to the bathroom to eating in the dining room – is outdoors and extremely cold. Deep winter gear including a down coat, double socks, snow pants, gloves and a hat is strongly recommended.
Prepare your body and stay active
Did I mention that sleeping in an ice fort is freezing cold? Depending on the venue, everything from the dining hall to the bar to the late night journey to the bathroom is done in subzero temperatures, and keeping your heart rate up can be a drain. A good meal of warm, heavy food is recommended before starting your journey, and staying active during your visit is essential.
Most villages offer some sort of adventure activity to spruce up your evening. Usually booked for an additional fee, these could include a cross-country skiing trek, snow shoeing or dog sledding. Do yourself a favour and book that extra trip. In addition to the beautiful sights, your body temperature will thank you.
Have a drink - a warm drink
Most igloo hotels have an ice bar (if nothing but for the novelty), and though drinking alcohol in the freezing cold may not sound so grand, there is one great reason to partake: mulled wine.
If you've never had it before, mulled wine is red wine that's doctored up with a smattering of raisins and a whole host of spices. Oh, and it's hot. Deliciously, blood-boilingly hot. Paired up with the anesthetic value of alcohol, this is a great way to prepare for the cold outside. But remember, the more you drink at the ice bar, the more often you're going to have to sprint for the bathroom in the middle of the night.
It's also a good idea to bring a healthy stack of cash to pay for your evening. Though facilities vary, you can't necessarily predict that a building made of ice will have a working credit card machine.