Have you ever spent the night in sub-zero temperatures, dined under a roof of snow or relaxed in a hot tub under the stars? Well, maybe now is the time to try!
I was lucky enough to be invited for dinner and an overnight stay at the stunning Grandvalira Igloo Hotel in Grau Roig, Andorra – and all I can say is Wow…what an experience!
The hotel is rebuilt every season into a little labyrinth of bedrooms, a dining room and wellness area. From the outside it looks like a big pile of snow, but inside it is a totally different story – intricate snow carvings decorate the walls, beautiful blue blocks of ice hold the atmospheric lighting system and luxurious furry throws cover the seats and doors. For make no mistake – sleeping in an igloo does not mean giving up any of your home comforts – far from it!
We were taken up to the hotel by piste basher after a welcome glass of wine and canapés at the Grau Roig Ski School. This is an experience in itself as the huge beasts of the mountain tear up gravity-defying gradients – when the moon is full you get an incomparable view of the ski area.
After some time to explore the hotel, those of us who wished were taken on a guided snow shoe walk before dinner. After a few awkward first steps getting used to the snow shoes, we headed out to explore the pistes. There is nothing quite like the absolute peace and stillness of the mountains at night, under the clear, star-filled sky. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the sky ‘up close’ with absolutely no light pollution from the resorts down below.
Dinner turned out to be an absolute treat. As anyone who has eaten outside in a mountain restaurant will know, keeping food warm for longer than two minutes is usually a challenge. Not so here – delicious mushroom risotto and cassoulet were served in ceramic liddedpots to keep it hot, washed down with a bottle of white wine – no need for a fridge, the longer you leave it the more chilled it gets!
Speaking of chilled, I had been very much looking forward to the after dinner hot-tub and sauna… just not so much the chilly dash from the (thankfully super-heated) changing rooms! Chilly or not though, the hot tub itself is lovely and warm and the open ceiling of the hot tub room means you can relax and watch the stars.
The hotel bedrooms are quite a magnificent affair. You can either book a standard bed, where you share a room with up to five people, or you can book a private room. Each one is individually decorated with snow sculptures, and you sleep in Arctic sleeping bags on bright blue blocks of ice covered in sheepskins. And it’s not as cold as you might imagine! The night I visited it was -13 degrees outside, and a comfortable 0 degrees inside. By the time you are all tucked in, you really are quite cosy – even if any drinks you’ve taken with you will be frozen by morning!
After an early morning ride down the chairlift back to Grau Roig we had a huge breakfast at the Pulka restaurant to finish.
Staying at the Igloo Hotel was an absolutely fabulous experience, and one I absolutely recommend. It’s good value too – you can pay more for a night in a normal hotel. Whether for an overnight stay, dinner, or just for afternoon drinks, make sure you pay a visit on your next trip to Grandvalira!
Words: Laura Ashton
Pas de la Casa Resort Manager