If you’re looking for a unique accommodation this winter, to truly experience Canada, Hotel de Glace, located around 4km outside of Quebec City, is a must.
This hotel, whether you’re brave enough to spend the night, or just looking for a tour, is a must visit if you find yourself in Quebec. There aren’t very many ice hotels kicking around, and this one is quite incredible.
You aren’t going to find tiny little snow forts to sleep in at Hotel de Glace. The hotel has 44 rooms and suites each uniquely designed. As you walk through each room and section of the hotel, you’ll be blown away by the detail in the sculptures that decorate each room. You won’t have typical furniture placed among your icy room, your bed, chairs, and anything else your room comes with will be made of ice. Don’t worry, you’ll get a real mattress though!
But since this hotel is in Quebec, where they get warm summers, each year the hotel melts to the ground and is built again. Around December, when the temperatures are below 0, in come the 50+ people who will begin working on the hotel over six weeks. More than 30,000 tons of snow is needed to build the hotel, and the snow is made on-site with snow blowers since the natural snow from the sky is too dry and airy to be used to create a stable building.
Once the snow is made, it is blown into metal moulds in various shapes and sizes, where it sits for around three days, depending on the temperature, before the moulds are removed and the team moves onto the next section of the building. After a section of the hotel is finished, ice blocks weighing 500 tons are brought in to create the furniture by the talented sculptures.
It’s hard to believe that so much work goes into something that will melt away each year, but it does truly make for an incredible experience. Hotel de Glace is the only ice hotel in North America entirely made of ice and snow, and on its ground includes an ice bar with a capacity of 300, hot tubs, a sauna, ice chapel, and an ice slide. If you get bored at the hotel, which seems impossible, there are several nearby attractions too.
But how do you actually sleep in a room made of ice? How do you change into your pyjamas? Don’t you freeze? All valid questions I had when I visited last winter. When staying at Hotel de Glace you are given instructions on how to prepare for your overnight stay. To me, this seemed a bit complicated when all you want to do is sleep; however, this isn’t just your average hotel.
The hotel recommends that you wear three layers to withstand the frigid winters that can get as cold as -25 Celsius. This includes an interior, middle and exterior layer, plus the essential accessories like hats and mitts. However, when you are sleeping, surprisingly, you only need dry, light and synthetic clothing as their warm provided sleeping bags will keep you warm enough. I was shocked that you didn’t have to wear a whole snowsuit in your sleeping bag, but apparently, this will actually make you colder!
The bed you’ll sleep in is made of ice, however does include a regular mattress. Your sleeping linens—sleeping bag, pillow, sheet—will be provided once it’s time to go to bed and your room temperature will stay between -3 and -5 Celsius. They even showed us a special way you’re supposed to get into your sleeping bag! But don’t worry, they provide mandatory training sessions for anyone brave enough to spend the night if you’re worried you won’t know what to do.
Overnight packages range from $199 CDN a night and up. However, it’s recommended to book in advance given the hotel is only open from January to March. If you aren’t looking to spend the night, you can just take a tour of the hotel like I did. There are different packages available that include just the tour, tour and a cocktail, snow rafting, and more. Tour packages start at around $13.00 CDN and go up to $40.00 CDN depending on the package you choose. I’d personally make sure you get a cocktail served in an ice cup in the ice bar, because how often will you get to do that?
Hotel de Glace is truly a winter gem. It can be a great place for a winter getaway, whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or just something unique and fun to do. This year, the hotel will be opening January 4th to March 26th, so book your visit or stay now!
For more information, visit hoteldeglace-canada.com.
Disclaimer: I visited Hotel de Glace with the help of the Quebec Region Tourism Board. I only recommend things that I enjoyed, and think other travellers would also enjoy. All opinions in this piece are my own and 110% honest.