Have you ever wanted to try sleeping outside in the winter? Maybe you have considered a tent or even a quinzhee if you are more the adventurous type. Quebec City’s well-known Hôtel de Glace is a common choice for those thinking of trying a different type of winter accommodation. And for good reason.
Located at the base of the Laurentian Mountains, the Hôtel de Glace is the only ice hotel of its kind in North America. And, it’s built from scratch every December! Visitors come from all around the world to not only see the hotel, but to experience it – with a good night’s rest in one of their 44 rooms and uniquely designed suites.
Yeah but how cold is it exactly?
You can hack it. Really. The hotel’s ice walls act as a bit of a barrier to the cold — I know this sounds a bit crazy cause it’s snow and ice — BUT it really does help to keep the Hôtel de Glace well insulated. Interior temperatures vary slightly, between -3°C and -5°C, no matter what the outside temperature is.
Where water becomes art
Not only does the Hôtel de Glace offer a truly unique experience and an adventure, it is incredibly beautiful – a work of art really. There are public rooms to tour including the Great Hall, the chapel, a very kid friendly themed room (this year’s theme is based on the movie Frozen) and of course the guest rooms and suites.
The attention to detail was found throughout every space, nook and cranny from icy chandeliers to wall murals to hallway decor and pillars.
Honey this isn’t quite the Holiday Inn is it?
When you walk through the ice hotel you will find it has such a quiet beauty to it. This simplicity – in building material that is, or the overwhelming amount of white space. Each room is unique and offers the eye something to adore.
It’s safe to assume your stay will be unlike any other hotel stay you have had in the past.
I do – do you do? Getting married happens here – often!
One of the most common activities or reasons to visit the Hôtel de Glace is to tie the knot! During a typical season the hotel hosts 20-30 weddings. Each of the seats are fur-lined so guests can keep warm during the ceremony. What a unique way to get hitched – I envision that a ceremony would feel very ‘fairytale-esque’. Yep, I am making up words but that makes some sense doesn’t it?
Here is a 6 second virtual chapel tour:
What to do and where to explore during your visit
Visitors can take advantage of daily activities including snowshoeing, warming up in the nordic relaxation area which features an outdoor sauna and spas (open from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.), visiting the bar and perhaps joining in on a dance party, or for kids, trying out the super neat Grand Slide.
I am not sure what this says about me but the bar was my first stop after the chapel.
And that kids area I mentioned. So COOL.
Sleeping at the Hôtel de Glace
Spending the night is something I highly recommend you do if you visit to the Hôtel de Glace. You have the choice between a regular room with 1-3 beds or a themed room or suite. Themed rooms such as the one I stayed in can include detailed carvings and sculptures. Suites include (non-heated) fireplaces.
Some things you should know about staying overnight:
Room temperature – hovers around the -5°C mark.
The beds – Beds have a solid ice base and a mattress on top. The mattresses are covered in a soft minky fabric and guests are provided with nordic sleeping bags designed to keep people warm to -30°C.
What to wear – Thermal underwear is recommended as a layer to keep humidity to a minimum but I found that I also liked wearing my toque. If you chill easy, you could bring along some hotshots and keep extra warm.
Considerations – I wouldn’t drink a lot before going to bed. Once you get up and leave your sleeping bag, humidity starts to seep in and it feels a bit cooler.
If you are claustrophobic you could have an issue. The sleeping bags are designed to cinch around your shoulders and neck, plus there’s a head cover that can also be tightened up so you are completely as snug as a bug. I have to admit that this freaked me out so much more than I thought and because the sleeping bags are quite slim I felt really closed in. It took me a couple of hours to realize I was OK. Now, this is just my experience of course but I am uncomfortable in closed in spaces.
Add this to your list in 2015!
For more information on the Hôtel de Glace and to get ready to plan your stay next winter (or this winter if you are quick) visit their website. They have a great variety of packages and prices vary depending on your getaway preference and type of room. Basic rooms start around $200. Just visiting for the day which will cost you $18 (adult rate).
Lastly I just want to add that if you don’t already know this, Quebec City is a place which simply excels in embracing winter in all its glory. If you are considering a stay at the Hôtel de Glace I recommend that you also double up your adventure and tie in the Carnaval Festival. Although it has recently passed, it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Carnaval runs from the end of January to mid February. Watch my blog for more information on Carnaval.
Question of the day:
Have you ever slept outside in the winter?