In the desert city of Dubai, summer temperatures average at about 40 degrees Celsius, so the last thing you’d expect to be able to do in this place is chill out in a sub-zero climate. But this is the UAE, where almost everything is possible, if you have the money. Welcome to the Chillout Ice Cafe!
Tourism is a huge part of Dubai’s economy, as it supports the entire emirate’s retail and hospitality industries, so in order to keep people coming to this desert paradise, local entrepreneurs have invested heavily in all kinds of unique attractions, from the stunning Burj Al Arab hotel to a palm-shaped artificial archipelago, and even an ice cafe where visitors can hang out at -6 degrees Celsius, surrounded by nothing but ice. Located in the Times Square shopping mall, right next to the famous Dubai Ski Dome, where people can actually ski down artificial snow slopes, the Chillout Cafe is made entirely of carved ice, including ice curtains, frosty tables and seats covered with fur, ice chandeliers, as well as beautiful sculptures highlighted by fluorescent lights. The cutlery, plates and glasses are also made of ice. Talk about a cool place to hide away from the scorching sun.
The Chillout Cafe is staffed by personnel recruited from temperate climate countries like Russia or Romania, because they are more able to withstand the constant sub zero temperatures, but visitors are required to wear thermal suits and shoes provided by the unique establishment, for a fee. To keep parts you would rather remained at body temperature from freezing, the ice seats are equipped with acrylic pads that don’t allow the cold to pass through them, and if it’s still too cold for comfort, you can ask for one of their complimentary sheepskin throws. Although the temperature is maintained at a constant -6 degrees, and there is no humidity or dripping, the floor is made from special anti-skid ceramic tiles, to prevent accidents. As not to compromise the freezing climate, lighting installations feature LEDs that don’t emit heat.
The Chillout Cafe may not be the only ice cafe in the world, but it’s definitely located in the strangest place. The feeling of stepping in from the blistering 40+C heat outside alone is worth a visit, if you’re ever in the area. 60 dirhams ($16) will get you into this place, and that includes the thermal clothing and a beverage of your choice.