I dined inside an igloo overlooking Manhattan and found that the winter rooftop trend is worth the hype
Time Out Market New York is a two-story food hall in Brooklyn. In December, the market opened a limited-edition winter attraction called the Rooftop Iglounge, which has a cluster of plastic igloo-like domes. I spent an evening in an igloo to see what it was like to dine in one of the see-through domes overlooking Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. I was skeptical at first of how comfortable it would be to dine in the igloo, but I found that it was surprisingly warm despite it being about 38 degrees outside in January. In my opinion, exploring the Iglounge was much more magical at night than before sunset, but as a whole, the Iglounge reminded me that even in the dead of winter, it's still possible to try something new and explore the city from a new perspective. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
In the age of glass igloo resorts and Airbnbs that let visitors rent their own snow dome, people seem to love the idea of spending the night inside one of the wintery structures. While the thought of sleeping in an Arctic snow globe isn't exactly my idea of a dream vacation, I've been curious to see what all the igloo buzz is about. When Time Out Market New York, a food hall in Brooklyn, opened a cluster of three plastic igloos on its rooftop in December, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to test out the igloo trend for myself. On a Thursday in January, I headed to the market's Rooftop Iglounge to dine inside one of the plastic structures. In the end, I left feeling more inspired and much less cold than I predicted. My journey began at Fulton Street subway station near the Insider office. It was hard to envision myself relaxing in an igloo while I was standing on the sidewalk, listening to the cars and taxis honk on the Manhattan street.
I took the A train one stop from the Financial District to High Street-Brooklyn Bridge station, which is a short walk to the heart of Dumbo, Brooklyn. With my camera in tow, I made my way from the Brooklyn subway station to the trendy Dumbo waterfront and immediately felt like I blended into the packs of tourists. After dodging people taking pictures in front of the highly Instagrammable Manhattan Bridge view on Washington Street ...
This street is almost always flooded with packs of tourists waiting not-so-patiently for a perfectly framed photo. ... I arrived at Time Out Market New York, a two-story food hall that opened in May 2019.
Located in a historic warehouse on Water Street in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood — between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge — Time Out Market New York has 21 food vendors and three bars. The first Time Out Market location was in Lisbon, Portugal, which opened in 2014. Now, along with New York, the Time Out Market has spanned to Miami, Boston, Chicago, and Montreal. Dubai, London, and Prague are set to open next, according to Time Out. It was a chilly January day, but inside the market, I immediately felt a sense of warmth. I was greeted with the sound of people clinking glasses and the wonderful aroma of different cuisines blending together.
The market was filled with tons of people eating, drinking, and laughing. I headed to the second level of the food hall, which is the building's rooftop and the location of the market's outdoor igloos.
On a Thursday around 4:30 p.m., people were gathered around the bar, which is a picturesque spot to watch the sunset from indoors. Upstairs, there's a small selection of food vendors, similar to the downstairs portion of the market.
From Mediterranean food to Italian and Mexican cuisine, the rooftop offered a smaller selection compared to the main floor of the market, but there were still diverse options to choose from. Outside, there are unmatched views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, plus hard-to-miss seating arrangements: three plastic igloos, which make up what the market calls its Rooftop Iglounge.
A representative from Time Out said that the igloos will remain on the rooftop through the winter season — until the end of March — but an exact closing date has yet to be announced. The igloos are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, though the market's team had reserved one for me. The structures can also be reserved for special events or large groups, the Time Out representative said. Visitors to the market can explore the Rooftop Iglounge during the rooftop's regular hours, which are every day starting at noon. From Sunday to Thursday, the rooftop closes at 9 p.m, and on Friday and Saturday, the rooftop is open until 10 p.m. The first floor of the market, however, opens at 8 a.m. Visitors can bring food and drinks that they ordered from around the market into one of three igloo structures.
The domes were made of a thick plastic material and PVC pipes. I spoke to a couple, Robert and Vicki Simmons, who were dining in one of the igloos when I arrived. They were visiting New York City from the UK and said they stumbled across the igloos on a whim.
"We came here just to see the view of the bridge, but it was nice and actually very cozy to sit in there," said Robert Simmons, an Iglounge visitor. "It was a nice change from just sitting inside at a bar." The other igloos had groups of people in them almost all evening while I was at the rooftop. Hearing that the enclosed dome was described as "cozy" made me feel a bit relieved, as the air was brisk outside. But before heading into my reserved igloo, I went back inside and ordered a drink from the rooftop bar, which serves cocktails made-to-order, plus two seasonal winter beverages.
There's a picturesque view of the Brooklyn Bridge on the other side of the indoor rooftop bar. Bartender Katile Marcano recommended the Snow White-tini, which is one of the market's limited-edition winter drinks. I was intrigued as she topped the white-colored drink with raspberry powder.
Marcano said the market also offers a warm, spiked apple cider as its other winter beverage, in addition to the martini-inspired drink. The Snow White-tini was made with vanilla-flavored vodka, Godiva white chocolate liqueur, a splash of half-and-half, and crème de cacao. The raspberry powder that was sprinkled on top had a texture and taste that reminded me of Pop Rocks.
The Snow White-tini was $8.99 when I ordered it at Time Out Market in January. While the wintery drink was a little sweet for my usual taste, I could see how fans of candy-like cocktails would enjoy it.
The Snow White-tini drink is a limited-edition drink available through March, a Time Out representative told me. A market representative recommended that I order my food in advance before heading into the igloo, which was a tricky step because just about every vendor made my mouth water.
Decisions, decisions. As a self-proclaimed flexitarian, I chose to order a vegan quesadilla from Ivy Stark Modern Mexican. The quesadilla was made with plant-based chorizo and served with pico de gallo and guacamole.
The vegan quesadilla was $19 when I ordered it from the Ivy Stark stall at the Time Out Market rooftop. With my food and drink in tow, I was ready to finally step into the magical-looking igloo, which was now illuminated with string lights. Thankfully, a market employee held the door for me as I headed onto the outdoor rooftop — otherwise, I might've spilled my drink and tray of food everywhere.
The sun was almost completely set, and the lights from the Brooklyn Bridge and of the city skyline looked like something out of a romantic comedy. While I was never really into building forts as a kid, the inside of the igloo reminded me of a luxurious version of a pillow fort — it had cool-toned lights and fuzzy blankets, and it looked like the ultimate hideaway from the bustling city.
In order to enter, I had to unzip the outside of the igloo. The zipper was stamped with the outdoor patio dome's brand name, Gardenigloo. Eater reported that Gardenigloo, a manufacturer of the patio dome, was founded in 2013. At first, it was sold only to European customers, but it opened an American division in 2016. I ducked inside the globe-like structure to find it was surprisingly roomy: it had a table with four chairs, plus two smaller tables with two chairs each.
I wasn't expecting the igloo to feel as spacious as it did. While I had to duck my head to enter the rounded structure, I could fully stand up once I was inside. After zipping myself into the igloo, I sat down to take it all in.
I was fascinated by the igloo's oversized zipper, which spanned from the top of the structure to the ground. Inside, I felt like I was in a snow globe — and was both impressed, and semi-creeped out, at how quiet it was inside the igloo. I could hear the faint sound of the subway rolling across the nearby Manhattan Bridge, but other than that, the voices of people outside of the igloo were hardly audible.
I couldn't shake the overall serenity and calmness that came with being inside the igloo, even with all the city noises that typically make spending time on an outdoor rooftop pretty loud. I loved the cozy decor; the igloo's largest table was topped with a faux-fur blanket and a candle ...
The igloo would make the perfect candle-lit date spot. ... and the smaller tables were decorated with plaid tablecloths and faux-fur chairs, plus a Time Out-branded pillow.
I've never been skiing, but I imagine a fuzzy blanket and red plaid textile is the epitome of a chic ski resort. While I can't say I've ever dined at a table with a fuzzy blanket as the placemat, I enjoyed feeling like I was at a ski lodge while I ate.
I admired my surroundings while tasting the quesadilla. With the creamy avocado topping and fresh salsa, the plant-based dish was hearty and delicious, and it helped balance out the cold, sweet Snow White-tini. The dome-like structures each had glowing blue and purple lights, which felt very galactic to me.
The igloos looked like something from "Star Wars." As I ate and sipped my drink in what felt like a chic personal bubble, I noticed that while I still needed to wear my coat, it wasn't drafty or overly chilly inside the igloo. These heavy sandbags did the trick of protecting the interior from drafts.
Even with the spaces between each sandbag, I felt that the plastic dome somehow protected me from the wind. Finally, it came time to leave the structure. I had a moment of worry when the zipper was briefly stuck in one place, but I tugged a bit harder and successfully exited the cozy cocoon.
Based on the zipper, the igloo was manufactured by the brand Gardenigloo, which has been used by other rooftops and restaurants in Washington, DC, and Wisconsin, among other US cities, according to Eater. At the end of my solo igloo date, I pinpointed what I thought made the attraction stand out amid a sea of rooftop venues. The Iglounge was memorable to me because it allowed me to dine outdoors in the middle of winter without turning into a human icicle — which seems like a unique feat in my book.
Plus, it was nearly silent inside the igloo — and while that was partially due to the fact that I was alone, even with other guests, the structure blocked much of the outdoor noise like cars honking and other people roaming around the rooftop space. I also think a visit to the Iglounge would be fitting for both a family, a group of friends, or even a romantic date — considering the igloo attendees can choose what food and drinks they order at the market to enjoy inside the wintery dome.
I thought the wintery dome was an oddly peaceful spot for a cozy solo date, and I liked that there wasn't a limited menu reserved for igloo-goers; I could choose any food or beverage from the market's vendors. Overall, I would recommend a visit to the Iglounge for those in search of an outdoor dining experience that's a little more avant-garde than a traditional restaurant with a view. However, I think the igloos stand out more at night than during daylight.
After the sun set, the igloos truly came alive with cozy candles and space-like blue lights. Don't get me wrong, any occasion spent inside of an igloo is special in and of itself. However, just from viewing the outside of the igloos before sunset and at night, it's clear to see the change in ambiance once the igloos are illuminated. Aside from discovering the serenity that came with dining inside an urban igloo, the experience also gave me hope that even in the dead of winter, it's still possible to try something new and explore the city from a new perspective.
In the thick of winter, it can be easy to fall into a rut of going to the same restaurants or bars (or leaving my apartment as little as possible). However, my visit to the Iglounge was a refreshing reminder for me to step out of the box — and maybe into another igloo-like dome — when thinking of my next cold-weather activities.
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