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December 1, 2023

Friday Food Insider: Outdoor dining igloos — a pandemic innovation — are now a winter staple

Courtesy / Colwen Hotels The 'Fire & Ice Igloos' at Portland Harbor Hotel, which is located at 468 Fore St. in Portland.

Popping up on rooftops and patios, cozy outdoor igloos and dining domes are making it possible to enjoy the outdoors while staying warm and dry.

Around Maine, hotels and restaurants have adopted the pandemic innovation as a seasonal staple, allowing customers to take in the wintry surroundings while enjoying cocktails and food. 

If you are looking for the perfect date night or group night out or trying to get into the holiday spirit, check out these hotels in Portland to enjoy the igloo experience.

Ski lodge igloos

Courtesy / Colwen Hotels
Rooftop exterior of the Ski Lodge igloos.

The Cambria Hotel Portland Downtown Old Port, at 25 Hancock St., opened its ski-lodge igloos at ALTO Terrace Bar + Kitchen on Nov. 24. 

The igloo has a heater and blankets to stay comfortable during the visit and Bluetooth speakers to play favorite holiday music. 

But space is limited. The hotel offers three 90-minute seating times: 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. There is a $75 non-refundable reservation fee. The rental fee is waived on Mondays. Guests must order food and beverages during the reserved time.

Although there is no special holiday menu for the igloos, the appetizer menu includes an alpine charcuterie board, firecracker shrimp, alto chipotle mussels, Tuscan bruschetta and more.

Courtesy / Colwen Hotels
Shown here are the Alto Chipotle Mussels and the Spiked Apple Cider.

There are also three cozy cocktails to choose from including a classic hot toddy, spiked apple cider and mulled wine.

Fire-and-ice igloos

The so-called Fire & Ice Igloos at the Portland Harbor Hotel at 468 Fore St. make their return today. 

“The pop of red and blue colors helped drive the theme and piques a lot of interest from the lobby and restaurant,” said Crystal Ingerson, area director of sales at the Portland Collection. “They certainly draw people to the terrace.” 

The hotel offers two-hour seatings, with seating times at 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. There is a $100 non-refundable reservation fee. The rental fee is waived on Mondays. The igloo also comes with a heater, blankets and a Bluetooth speaker.

During the reservation, patrons can enjoy a meal from the Harbor Bistro + Terrace menu with local coastal cuisine, including clam chowder, lobster rolls, cod Newburg, grilled salmon or braised short rib.

Courtesy / Colwen Hotels
Interior of the Fire & Ice igloo.

The igloos are seasonal, through April. 

“We wanted a way to activate our outdoor spaces in a season that is typically less desirable,” said Ingerson. “The igloos have been a great way for guests and locals to continue to experience our secluded terraces.”

Where is your go-to restaurant to get into the holiday spirit? The Mainebiz Food Insider wants to know! Contact Alexis Wells at

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