A bevy of igloos has sprouted on the rooftop patio at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin’s Rainey Street District.
I stopped by this week, sipped from a tiki glass filled with something called Apple Chaider, which tasted like frozen apple cider with a kick, and admired Austin’s ever-growing skyline.
I love this time of year, and I’m currently trying to squeeze as much out of it as possible. Last week I visited the Driskill Hotel at Sixth and Brazos, one of my go-to destinations for festive décor. I’ve already been to the Trail of Lights. Before the season winds down I’ll try to make it to Miracle on Fifth Street, which looks like the Christmas department of Macy’s exploded inside the Roosevelt Room on West Fifth Street.
The South Pole at the Hotel Van Zandt
The Hotel Van Zandt has adopted what they call a South Pole theme, a mashup of tropical vibes and stacks of oversized ice cubes. I didn’t see any seals or penguins (which don’t actually live at the pole, they live at the coast), but I did see dining tables inside glowing globes. Santa wasn’t around; he lives at the North Pole.
The igloos were occupied, so we sat at a tall table next to the pool, which shimmered in blue and reminded me of the vast ocean that Rudolph floated across on an iceberg while fleeing the Abominable Snowman.
Anyone can reserve one of the rooftop igloos, and they’ll stay open until Valentine’s Day. They hold up to six people, and you can get food from the hotel’s restaurant, Geraldine’s.
What’s on the menu?
The cocktail menu has gone all festive, too, with drinks like the Texas Mule Log (vodka, lime juice and ginger beer), Nice Toddy’s (Wild Turkey and brown sugar pecan bourbon), or A-Wreath-A-Franklin (gin, pistachio orgeat and angostura). Even the food menu takes a Christmas bow, with things like reindeer ribs (pork ribs with tarragon and piquillo caramel), a version of queso dubbed Ebe-Cheez-Er Scrooge, and more.
But the best thing the South Pole is serving? A spectacular view of downtown. From the bedecked patio, you can see all the way to the Zilker Tree, and that alone is worth the trip to the hotel.