Culture & Entertainment

Experience the Chill: Canada's first ice lounge

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Experience the Chill: Canada's first ice lounge

Guest blog by Sarah Manning

CHILL Ice House Logo I walked out of the summer heat, into an averagely air-conditioned staging room and was asked to don a parka. This would have been both strange and uncomfortable had I not been about to walk through a pair of freezer doors and into Toronto’s Chill Ice House, Canada’s first and only permanent ice lounge. When I was invited to attend the opening of Chill, I had no idea what to expect: I’m the first to admit that I don’t like the cold and I find myself complaining of frigid hands and toes on the warmest days, but Chill is a refreshing frozen escape from the city sunlight. Chill Ice House maintains a temperature of -5°C because everything (everything!) inside is made of crystal-clear ice: the bar, seats, walls, decorations, glasses. Carved from 83,250 kilograms of ice (that’s over nine million cubic centimetres or 546 bathtubs of water), the lounge is filled with ice sculptures, seating areas and a full bar. Ice replicas of the CN Tower, the Stanley Cup and Olaf—the snowman in Disney’s Frozen—bring life to the ice cube walls. There is also an ice chandelier that adds even more whimsy to the venue. CHILL Ice House Booth The part that most caught my attention: How did they get the ice on the ceiling? When I asked the owner about the gravity-defying ice, I learned it was the only fake ice in the building. It’s the same material used in the ice hotel in Die Another Day. There are certain laws of physics that even the largest ice lounge in the world can’t conquer. After some time in the ice lounge, I was happy to retreat to the adjoining room-temperature area. A warning to those who wear glasses: They will fog up when you leave the ice lounge, and you will not be able to see anything. When the fog cleared from my lenses, I saw a laid-back, contemporary area with couches, tables and another full bar. Tapas-style food and both hot and cold beverages are available in this area. Through the Glenfiddich “bottle keep” program, patrons can store their bottles of Glenfiddich scotch at Chill to enjoy whenever they frequent the location. The Chill-Glenfiddich partnership was a natural one. Iceculture, the company behind Chill, is family owned and operated. Owner Gresham Bayley is part of the family at Iceculture Inc. Gresham’s cousin, Heidi Bayley, is president of Iceculture, a company that designs and manufactures ice installations globally. (Iceculture built the Chill Lounge in Hensall, Ont., then disassembled it into 516 pieces, packed it, shipped it, and rebuilt it in Toronto. The building process took a total of 1,000 hours.) Similarly, Glenfiddich is a family-run company that has been distilling Scotch whisky for more than 120 years. While at Chill, I had my first-ever experience with scotch ( or any whisky for that matter), and it came in the form of Glenfiddich’s limited edition Snow Phoenix. In a particularly intense Scottish winter, so much snow fell that the roof collapsed on one part of the distillery; the barrels underneath were used in the making of the Snow Phoenix scotch. This winter weather scotch was right on trend for this frozen experience. Chill promises to be both a great place to escape the summer heat, or to celebrate a frozen Canadian winter in style.
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Experience the Chill: Canada's first ice lounge

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