Total meltdown: I booked a stay at an ice hotel that didn’t exist

Feb 2, 2020

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In August of 2019 I wrote a grand story about the city of Sibiu, Romania, and all the reasons why you needed to visit. From vampire hunting to fantastic food, this Transylvanian city intrigued me to no end. And even better? Just a scant few miles away lies Balea Lake, where every year an ice hotel is built for the sanity-challenged to spend their nights in ultra frigid weather.

Being a Californian, I decided to utilize my body’s natural protection against the cold (I kid, I wear jackets in summer) and visit Sibiu’s most famous ice hotel for my 30th birthday. Armed with my information-filled article and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (to purchase all those winter clothes), I went ahead and booked a night in the Hotel of Ice, where room rates are hundreds of dollars cheaper per night than their counterparts in Sweden and Canada.

There may have been a reason for that, as I came to find out once I’d finished booking the rest of my trip.

The ice hotel is meant to open every year on the 23rd of December and we were visiting in mid-January. My booking request seemed to go right through. But a lack of confirmation email and failure to answer their phone left me worried as to the actual stay.

Finally, after several calls and emails, the hotel responded to let me know that, due to the weather, the hotel hadn’t been built after all. It appears that snowfall in Sibiu and its surrounding areas has been severely limited due to increased temperatures.

While I was unfortunately unable to reschedule my trip to a time when the hotel would be available (aka constructed), I did manage to have an awesome time in Sibiu anyway.

As the hotel manager had warned me, there was indeed little snow to be found around the city. That didn’t mean it was warm, though  — temperatures hovered around 10°F for the length of my stay, and I was supremely grateful for my Black-Friday-Nordstrom-Clearance attire I had splurged on.

Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

The moral of the story here is to always make sure to follow up on reservations you make. It’s also important to use a credit card that offers trip protection, though in this case I may have had a difficult time convincing them my hotel simply didn’t exist.

Regardless, there are many steps you can take to make sure your vacation goes off without a hitch. If I’d simply trusted that my reservation had gone through and shown up for my stay I would have been, well, left out in the cold.

Feature photo via Shutterstock.

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