As a Winter City, something I’m always trying to encourage Edmontonians to do is embrace winter with all of its amazing festivals, events, and other activities you can do outside here during the snowy season!
Some days are obviously chillier than others, but it’s amazing how proper gear can make our long winters far more enjoyable. That and things like heated installations and experiences, including something I recently discovered in downtown Edmonton—the Riverside Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Edmonton’s outdoor, heated Winter Patio Igloos!
We recently (Feb 2020) had a double date inside one of these heated domes and it was a lot of fun!
Read on for more information about the Winter Patio Igloos (including how to book them and what to expect), and check out my video showcasing the patio igloos too!
Explore Edmonton’s Heated, Downtown Winter Patio Igloos (#lindorkVlogs)
Check out my 30 second TikTok video of the winter patio igloos:
And the original video I made about the winter patio igloos back in Feb 2020:
1. WHERE ARE THE WINTER PATIO IGLOOS?
These particular igloos are located at the Riverside Bistro restaurant inside the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Edmonton at One Thorton Court (99 Street and Jasper Avenue). Walk into the hotel, cut through the restaurant, and head out to the back patio that overlooks Edmonton’s gorgeous river valley.
2. HOW LONG HAVE THE IGLOOS BEEN AROUND?
The Riverside Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Edmonton got its first three igloos set up in October 2019, with the first official use in November. They hope to add a few more igloos down the road. They believe they are the only Courtyard Marriott to offer winter patio igloos, and as of 2019/2020, are the only patio of its kind in the city.
3. HOW DO YOU GET A SPOT IN THE IGLOO?
(Update as of Winter 2020): The igloos used to be free to book with reservations must be made in advance (and sometimes they are booked weeks out at a time!) but as of Winter 2020, there is now a $150 cost (+ tax and tip) to reserve, where $100 of that can go towards your food and beverage.
Reservations are 90 minutes long and can be made by calling 780-423-9999 or emailing [email protected] – emailed reservation requests may take up to 48 hours though, so calling is better.
They are open similar to patio hours—as early as Noon and as late as 10 p.m. They look more magical in the evening but it is harder to take in the river valley view at night.
4. IS THE IGLOO HEATED?
Yes! The igloo is heated and (pre-COVID) featured blankets that you can wrap around yourself. I would suggest bundling up just in case / to be extra cozy!
The igloo is made using a plastic material similar to what you’d find in a greenhouse.
5. HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN FIT IN IT?
Comfortably—up to 6 people!
6. WHEN IS THE IGLOO OPEN?
The heated Winter Patio Igloos help extend the Riverside Bistro’s patio season to, in theory, year-round, so you can access the patios during the winter months!
Sometimes if it is too cold, the patio will be closed. This is typically a day to day decision, but usually if the temperature drops to less than -10C with a windchill. it’s not going to be a fun experience for guests OR servers, so they shut it down depending on day-to-day weather.
Sometimes if they think spring has arrived but we get our classic second, third, or fourth winter spurt, the igloos may already be taken down for the spring/summer season.
7. WHAT IS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE?
The ambience is 10/10! There is music in each dome so it feels like a really lovely, intimate, twinkly lights, backyard party in a way. The shiny material makes it a bit hard to see out (so hard to take in the river valley views, especially if it’s dark out), but the dome itself is SUPER well-lit (like better lit than most restaurants in town lol). We liked that we got the regular white/yellow one, as we imagine the lighting would be a bit harsher and darker in the other colour igloos. It was also nice that our conversation was entirely ours within the dome.
Service was great! Our server was friendly, helpful, and on top of it—we never had a moment where we were wondering if he was going to be coming back soon or not.
While the atmosphere and overall experience was wonderful, the food was good but it didn’t necessarily blow our minds. You’re really making a point to come here for the atmosphere! The cocktails we had were excellent though, and the restaurant does try to source local products, which is always appreciated!
Since the pandemic, I’m told they sanitize each Igloo after each use and use an Electrostatic Sprayer to disinfect the space after it has been cleaned as well.
Overall, this was a pretty unique experience and we’d definitely do it again! It’s obviously very Instagrammable—which checks off a few reasons why I wanted to visit and why I’d come back, lol.
I love that the Riverside Bistro and Courtyard Marriott are trying to find different ways to embrace winter and encourage you to do the same! Their patio has always been regarded as the ‘place to be’ in the summer months, and now it’s cool that they’ve turned it into a destination for winter months as well.
If you end up trying the Winter Patio Igloos, let me know what you think!
And be sure to watch my video!!