Among the endless winter activities Switzerland offers, an overnight stay in an igloo under a shower of sparkling stars or feather like snow has been itching my curiosity. How does it feel in a sleeping bag on a block of ice, covered with sheep fur? Wouldn’t the steam from the whirlpool or cheese fondue melt our igloo? What about when nature calls? And am I supposed to wear ski gear in the sleeping bag?
My fun and wild questions got a chance to be answered thanks to the amazing invitation from Iglu-Dorf Engelberg-Titlis! Located at an altitude of 1800 m, this igloo village was about to become the highest point ever for me to stay overnight!
Instructions before Arrival
My anticipation really got sparked when I received the instructions for overnight guests of the Engelberg Igloo Village in my inbox.
I noted that "credit cards are accepted", to bring a "toothbrush (tooth brushing is possible)," a "towel, swimwear and flip flops for the whirlpool if required," and "two hats (a second spare hat in case the first hat gets wet in the whirlpool)."
That's a rare chance to convince Dimitri to wear a hat!
We arrived with huge back bags filled with extra clothes, a hot water bottle, and some cereal bars. I carefully considered a "cancellation insurance for overnight stays during the cold season," and I got slightly worried when I read about "leaving the Igloo Village Zugspitze during avalanche detonations."
Finally, I highlighted the line "the Igloo-Village is located on the ski piste and is ideal for a day's skiing before and after the night in the igloo." Not into skiing? Get a return ticket for 28 francs with an option to sledge down from the mid-point at Gerschnialp to the town of Engelberg!
Our Experience at the Iglu-Dorf Engelberg
The meeting point was at the hotel bar at Trübsee, which gave us a perceived sense of security - civilization within a ten minute walk!
All the individual igloo rooms were part of a large snow complex under one roof. Upon entering, there was a snow bar and a dining hall. And after a nice welcoming by the hosts, we had some free time to roam around and explore the compound.
Each igloo room featured unique, carefully crafted wall art:
There were romantic couples' rooms with individual, sound proof bathrooms (bricks of snow turned out to provide amazing insulation). The Standard rooms for up to six sleepers were perfect for families or groups of friends. The luxury of a separate outhouse was reserved for couples, but having a common bathroom was never a problem.
The Snow Shoe Hike
One of our highlights was the one-hour snow shoe hike under the starry night sky. Truly, the stars against the black universe appeared like diamond dust! Stomping through the fresh snow and feeling the crisp air was the perfect way to get hot. Maybe the shot of Jägermeister did its part, too...
Afterwards, some guests decided to dip into the hot tub. We jumped right into our expedition sleeping bags though in order to conserve all that heat we had worked up!
To our surprise, the bed was soft enough thanks to extra padding and a layer of sheep fur. So all in all, the sleeping situation was actually very cozy!
The single biggest challenge proved to be falling asleep. It may have been the altitude, the excitement - or both: But for some reason, we each heard our own heart beat louder and faster than ever! For several minutes, we were desperately trying to calm down and ignore the pulse - and for a brief moment before falling asleep, some claustrophobic thoughts crossed our minds... We laughed about this the following day, claiming that "the mountain did that to us!"
Rise and Shine! Morning among the Mountains
The next morning was announced when one of the hosts served hot tea in our room.
Outdoors, an epic sunrise was unfolding. But Dimitri was more fascinated by the avalanche detonations and piste preparations under way...
It turned out that these items were never necessary: As long as you arrive wearing undergarments underneath your winter gear, you can slip right into the thermal sleeping bag and you will never be cold. We were also told that flip-flops would freeze to the ground and are therefore pointless.
Extra food or water is not required, either, as the dinner menu comes with soup, cheese fondue and plenty of potatoes. A complimentary selection of hot tea is available in order to stay hydrated and keep those fingers warm.
Ultimately, all you will need to bring is pictured above: A headlamp or torch for the snow shoe hike, a toothbrush, and an optional airline eye mask.
For those who consider spending the following day on the slopes of Titlis, we recommend the following in order to save precious time: Bring all your gear to the gondola station at Trübsee. There are lockers located at the adjacent building where the gondola for Mt. Titlis departs, and this is where you will be able to leave your skis overnight. The Igloo Village offers one heated room where you may store your ski boots and helmets overnight. Snow boards can be left at the igloo as well.
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