Chill Ice House offers drinkers a warm welcome


At Chill Ice House, the booths, bar and even curtains are made of crystal clear ice (Photography by Linda Hermiz/The Sheridan Sun).


With winter approaching, it may sound outrageous to visit a bar made entirely of ice, but the Chill Ice House in Toronto is busier than ever this season.

Though it appears to be a regular bar on the outside, the Chill Ice House is actually an arctic paradise where the tables, chairs, walls and even the curtains are made of crystal clear ice.

“I never thought that it would work here,” said Gresham Bayley, the 31-year-old co-owner. “But it’s funny, we’re actually getting busier as the weather gets colder ‘cause people are dressed for the occasion.”

The 1,200-square-foot bar and lounge opened in July at King St. West and Bathurst St., a 15-minute bus ride from Union Station.

The entry fee of $19 ($16 for students) includes locally made thermal capes and gloves to wear during your stay.

The bar is kept at a constant -5 C. For those who can’t handle the cold, there is a 1,500-square-foot warmup room at the back with big-screen TVs, comfortable red couches and hunting trophy replicas.

“We tried to design something that really isn’t anywhere else in Toronto,” said Bayley.

“We get a really good Sunday crowd out to watch football and hang out and have cheap drinks. On Fridays and Saturdays we do a lot of mixology and really high-end creative drinks.”

Cocktails start at $10. For an additional $2, you can literally have your drink served “on the rocks” in a handcrafted ice glass.

Chochi Knott, 29, was in awe as she gazed at a 2.5-metre ice sculpture of the CN Tower.

“Even though it’s a cold place, it’s got a really warm atmosphere,” she said. “Everybody’s really inviting when you come and it definitely should be considered a Toronto hotspot.”


Bayley and his brother, co-owner Nic Bayley, come from a family of ice carvers. Their uncle, Julian Bayley, founded Iceculture Inc. in 1993.

What started out as a small-town family business of carving punch bowls for parties quickly evolved as the company started building ice lounges around the world – from Australia and New Zealand to India, central Europe and North America.

“We realized if we can build sculptures, why not build walls and a whole house of ice?” said Bayley.


Gresham Bayley, co-owner of Chill Ice House, grips a mug made entirely of ice.

Eventually, the brothers decided to build and manage their own ice lounge in Ontario.

“There’s something here that you can’t get anywhere else in Canada,” said Bayley. “It’s not about escaping the heat, it’s more about doing something different. The ice lounge is a real interesting place to go and experience something new as opposed to the same old clubs and bars.”

Bartender Josh Bell, 23, is happily socializing with guests as he pours their drinks. For Bell, it’s much easier than working in a regular bar.

“The experience and vibe I get from this place makes it a fun and happy environment to work for,” he said. “It’s a great time for everyone, not just the customers but the staff as well. It’s amazing.”

The ice lounge is well maintained in a custom-made freezer from Hamilton that Bayley says uses less energy than most restaurants and kitchens due to its high insulation value.

What Bayley estimated to cost $2,500 to $3,000 for electricity only costs $1,000 per month.

“It’s very easy to keep it cold,” he said. “If the power went out, it would stay frozen for three days before it even starts to melt as long as you keep the doors closed.”

Chill Ice House hosts events, from bachelor and bachelorette parties to birthdays and corporate meetings.

“We’re just getting to more and more. Now we’re getting to a Christmas season and we’ve got a bunch of Christmas parties coming up,” said Bayley.

He also hopes to incorporate a student night in the near future. “We already have student pricing but we’d like to bring it down quite a bit more so that there’s one night that’s dedicated to students coming out and experiencing something new, especially because there are a lot here who are from overseas or out of town.”

The bar is open from around noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from noon to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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