If you’re not used to the blistering hot Las Vegas sunshine, there’s one spot on the strip where you can go and “chill out”. The minus5 Ice Bar inside the Monte Carlo offers an escape to a cool oasis with a stacked bar and all the ice you can handle. The temperature is controlled to keep the room below the freezing point so that none of the ice melts. The walls, seats, and bar are made of ice, even the glassware is made of ice. There are different professionally carved ice sculptures all around the room. They change up the sculptures pretty regularly (every 6 to 8 weeks) so there’s always a new experience to check out.

At the Monte Carlo location, the main bar space isn’t very large. It’s an open concept room and didn’t feel overly crowded, even once it started to fill up. Luckily, there are a few separate rooms on either side of the bar that you can retreat to if you want to get away from the crowd. The rooms are lined with ice seats that are topped with (faux?) animal skins to keep your cheeks warm while you lounge around. In the middle of the seats are coffee tables (made of ice, of course) that you can use to put down your drink. Make sure to use the provided coasters or your drink might just luge its way across the table and onto the floor.

A professional photographer roams around the bar all night snapping candid photos of you and your friends. The ice sculptures and different backdrops are perfect for posing beside. On your way out, you’ll get to see all of the photos that were taken. Buying the photos is completely optional, but let me tell you, it’s almost impossible to say no. They make perfect Christmas cards! If you’re unsure whether you want to spend the money on the photos, you can always sleep on it and check out the photos online later. Minus5 promptly posts all of the pictures by the next day. You get the option of downloading digital copies or ordering prints that will get shipped to you. As of right now, $20 will get you either a digital or a print version.

This past August marked my second time at the minus5 experience in the Monte Carlo and both times I opted for the VIP package. In addition to entry, the VIP package comes with a faux fur coat and an ushanka (you know..., that Russian style hat with the ear flaps) that you get to keep. As if that wasn’t enough, it also gets you one free cocktail. Not bad for $55. If you’re the type of person who wants to try to squeeze out as much free stuff as possible, we made a reservation online ahead of time and got a voucher for one free shot each. If you want a real VIP experience, there’s a $75 option that includes everything that the $55 package offers, but doubles your free cocktails and throws in a free 5x7 of one of your photos. If you’re partying on a budget or the VIP treatment isn’t for you, the basic entry-only package is $17 (you can add 2 free cocktails to that for another $20 on top).

At the end of the day, minus5 was a great place to get the party started in a fun and memorable setting; the type of thing that you can only find in Las Vegas. The below freezing temperature is refreshing, at first, but after a short while you will probably feel inclined to head to another Vegas hot spot. I wouldn’t suggest planning an entire night around minus5, but it really is an awesome place to chill out for an hour or two. I recommend it to anyone who is tired of the usual bar/club scene or anyone is just looking for a cool and unique nightlife experience.