The only place to be seen during the winter months – and you will be, thanks to their transparency – is in an igloo. The domed structures are popping up like PVC pustules all over terraces and rooftop bars in the capital and elsewhere. They’re being called “igloos” but they have little in common with Inuit structures – the culture being appropriated here is more Eden Project. Will they go the way of the Christmas market, which after nearly two decades has now become a winter fixture?
The Coppa Club bar and restaurant chain started it in London last year, and their domes – a ready-made version last winter, but designed specially for the bar this year – have made a comeback outside their riverside Tower Bridge branch. “We have a busy summer terrace, but in the winter it started to drop off, so our design and property managers wanted to create a space outside that could still be used, and where people could enjoy that stunning view,” says brand manager Lucy Watson. Bookings for the eight pods opened in October, and within four hours they had been booked up until mid-January. “People love outdoor dining, and in the winter, an igloo feels extra special.”
This year, a number of bars and restaurants have installed the heated snowglobe-like geodesic domes. In London, you will find them at Jimmy’s Lodge on the Southbank, and on the roof terraces of the Sipping Room in Canary Wharf, Aviary in the City, and Roof East in Stratford. They will be installed at Brighton beach at the end of the month.
In New York, the 230 Fifth bar has them on its terrace; so does the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC. In Budapest, you can sit inside individually decorated domes on the roof terrace of the 360 Bar. Holiday companies in Finnish Lapland, such as Levin Iglut and the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, have luxury glass-roofed “igloos” from which to watch the northern lights from your bed. There have even been homemade versions – witness the incredible structure, inspired by the dome in the Crystal Maze TV game show, built by former engineer Paul Gordon in Buckinghamshire. For his pet tortoises.
The dome used by many of the bars is the Turkish-designed, German-made Garden Igloo, launched in 2013. Cuckooland, a company that sells them in the UK, has seen a 150% increase in sales since last year – bars and restaurants have bought them, as have events companies, schools and people who have installed them in their gardens. “You can have it as a greenhouse, a conservatory, or as an additional office space,” says one of the directors, Nathalie Davis. At £849, it is expensive, but cheaper than a conservatory, she points out, and doesn’t take long to put up (or take down). And it’s a small price to pay to ensure your Instagram feed features an #igloo for when you can’t get a booking at one of the bars.
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