Featuring Siberian temperatures, surreal bunker-like surroundings that might remind you of Superman’s icy lair, and a jetset-aspiring clientele, the Ice Kube bar at Paris’ Kube Hotel claims to offer a singular nightlife experience. Designed by champion ice sculptor Michel Amann, who used 20 tonnes of ice to carve out the sleek, fantasy-inspired bar, this indeed remains the only all-ice destination in the city (at least as this went to press).
In terms of conceptual originality, the owners recently upped the ante quite a bit: the bar has been re-imagined as a post-apocalyptic wartime shelter circa 1942.
Step into the eerie remnants of a bunker once home to members of a Resistance movement, and have a drink as you survey the memento mori. Word on the street is that the concept is set to be refreshed yearly with a new theme each time.
Sounds intriguing, right? But does it live up to the hype? Is it worth the rather prohibitive cover charge? Read more to find out.
A Few Pros:
- Offers an unusual night out in a fantasy-inspired, post-apocalyptic glacial setting
- You’ll get to taste three custom-mixed cocktails during your slot
- Because of the reservation system and limited number of people allowed in at any given time, this is one of the rare bars in Paris that isn’t likely to be overcrowded, even on weekends
- Set in an off-the-beaten-track corner of Paris
And Now, the Cons…
- The entry fee will be prohibitively expensive for some patrons; you don’t have the choice to only enjoy a single drink
- The bar isn’t located in central Paris
- Your time at the bar is limited to 30 minutes
- Food isn’t served here (not even snacks)
(Editor’s note: This review predates the current revamp of the bar as a post-apocalyptic underground shelter. We will soon re-visit the property to assess its new offering and design).
If you happen to be reading this review in the dead of the winter, I know what you’re thinking : it’s minus-five degrees out there!
Why would I want to go sit in a freezing cold bar where I can see my own breath, only to imbibe more cold things? But partaking of drinks at the Ice Kube is a far cry from buying a bottle of wine and attempting to drink it with numbing fingers on the frigid streets.
This bar brings a little conceptual creativity to what could otherwise feel like a tired, overrated concept (and a finger-numbing experience, besides.)
Hidden on a nondescript street in the middle of the La Chapelle neighborhood in northeast Paris– traditionally known for its excellent and ridiculously inexpensive South Asian restaurants – you may easily walk past the Kube Hotel without noticing it.
But behind the heavy iron gate lie 40 Scandinavian-style rooms with an upscale restaurant and an all-ice bar inside.
There is a dress code to enjoy your evening at the Ice Kube bar or hotel restaurant downstairs, so make sure to change your clothes before embarking on a night out here (no jeans or sneakers).
The Kube is a favorite hotspot for film crews and Paris Fashion Week after-parties, so your average Joe-schmo (or Pierre-schmierre) isn’t likely to to make it through the door.
Call it a snobby concept if you will, but this is what staff calls “creating an atmosphere.” Once inside, you’ll get a king’s welcome, with friendly staff making all efforts to give you a pleasant experience.
Once you’ve enjoyed a meal of upscale finger food in the hotel restaurant and bopped your head to the featured DJ of the evening, head up to the mezzanine-level ice bar for an invigorating (albeit expensive and short-lived) drinking experience.
At the door, you’ll be given a down parka and gloves before stepping into the -20° C bar, boasting Siberian-like temperatures. The cool blue lights reflect off the life-size ice blocks, creating an intimate yet rather claustrophobic effect.
At the bar, also fitted out of solid ice, you’ll be served up a set of three house cocktails, served by resident mixologists in beaker-like flutes. You can opt for alcoholic or non-alcoholic options each time. The current menu is completed by a shot of vodka– iced, bien sur.
Relax (if you can) on an all-ice bench, or perch at the bar to enjoy your cocktails for the next 30 minutes – the limit here. At first, you may consider this an overly-expensive thrill.
But after a half hour in this cold, cold world, your nose will be so numb that you may not care whether you’ve finished your last cocktail or not.
Our Final Thoughts
An evening at the Ice Bar is a memorable experience, even if you can’t feel your toes by the end of the half-hour. It goes without saying that this isn’t the place to head for a relaxed evening of drinks.
But if you’re looking for a whimsical and interesting night out, this is a good choice— assuming you’re willing to fork out more than a little cash and prepare for some serious shivering. At least you’ll burn off some extra calories in preparation for Fashion Week, dahling.
Contact Information, Getting There & Reservations
- Address: 1-5, passage Ruelle, 75018 (18th arrondissement)
- Metro: La Chapelle (line 2) or Max Dormoy (line 12)
- Tel: +33 (0)1 42 05 20 00
- Open: Wednesday through Saturday, 7:00 pm to 2:00 am, Mondays and Tuesdays reserved for private groups (call well ahead).
- Reservations are highly recommended (limited space and high demand): book here
- Dress code: no jeans or sneakers
Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, the writer received free access to this service for review purposes. We believe in disclosing any potential conflicts of interest. This review originally appeared on About.com Paris Travel. It has been lightly edited and updated for accuracy.