It’s one of those dreamy bucket list items. Check into the Quebec Ice Hotel!
The Quebec Ice Hotel, otherwise known as Hotel de Glace, is a magical world of snow and ice. You can spend the day or stay the night in an ice room of your very own. There’s really nothing like staying overnight at an ice hotel. Hotel de Glace is the only ice hotel in North America, and it’s about 30 minutes outside of Quebec City.
Do you have what it takes to stay the night at the Quebec Ice Hotel? As long as you follow a few directions, just about anyone can stay overnight and have an incredible experience.
DO: TAKE A TOUR
Even if you only travel to the Quebec Ice Hotel for the day, you should definitely take a tour of the property. Every year, the hotel is completely redesigned and built from the ground up. After all, it is made of ice and Quebec City gets quite hot in the summer! There is a new theme each year. In 2017, the theme is Northern Perspectives. Discover the enchanting North Pole and Arctic Circle through intricate ice carvings.
The Quebec Ice Hotel is open from the beginning of January until the end of March, depending on the weather conditions. The buildings and hotel rooms are built in stages, adding more and more until the end of January when the construction stage is complete.
Guests have private access to their hotel rooms from 9:00pm to 9:00am. From 10:00am until 8:00pm, the rooms are open for public tours. Along with the hotel rooms, there are several communal areas where you’ll have lots of fun exploring a world made entirely of ice.
There’s the Grand Hall, a room filled with many ice sculptures. There’s even an ice chandelier! Absolutely everything here is made out of snow and ice. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that important fact. Every sculpture, structure, doorway, and pillar is made from solid ice.
Take a ride down the ice slide. For a speedier ride, be sure to wear your snow pants! Like the entire hotel, the ice slide is redesigned every year and fits in with the overall Nordic theme. The ice slide looks like a Viking ship.
There’s even a wedding chapel made completely of ice. You can get married at the Hotel de Glace, which would be a truly magical experience.
DO: ATTEND THE INFORMATION SESSION
There’s information on the website, as well as an in-person meeting, about how to prepare to sleep at the ice hotel. Do not skip this session. It’s very important that you know how to dress properly and prepare for the conditions. You’re advised to wear three layers to allow humidity to escape your body while staying protected from the elements. Don’t forget to pack your hat, mittens, scarf, and boots.
Although your bed is made of ice, you sleep on a mattress on top of the ice frame. A pillow and a sleeping bag are delivered to your room when it’s time to settle in for the night.
The room stays between -3°C and -5°C no matter what the weather is like outdoors. The sleeping bags are suited for temperatures between -15°C and -30°C, so you’ll have no trouble staying warm as long as you can follow directions.
Here’s a tour of our room at the Quebec Ice Hotel. There’s an ice bed, an ice table, and a candle. Some rooms are even fancier with their own ice sculptures, a decorative fireplace, and there’s even a room with its own hot tub.
DON’T: DRINK TOO MUCH AT THE ICE BAR
Enjoy a drink or two at the ice bar. Trust me on this one – you’re not going to want to drink too much. Once you’re all bundled up in your sleeping bag, you’re not going to want to get up multiple times to use the bathroom! One or two drinks is enough to partake in the fun without overdoing it.
There are actually three ice bars at the Hotel de Glace. Each room has intricate and unique carvings. There’s one working fireplace – don’t worry, it’s installed so the building won’t melt. The other fireplaces you’ll see around the Ice Hotel are purely decorative.
And of course, even the glasses for drinks are made out of ice.
DO: TRY CARVING A BLOCK OF ICE
For guests staying overnight at the Quebec Ice Hotel, we were able to try our hand at ice carving. Small blocks of ice were placed at tables near one of the ice bars. We used hand tools to chip away at the ice blocks. I wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to make until the ice started to take shape.
Let me tell you, ice carving is a LOT tougher than it looks. As I chipped away at the ice block, frozen shavings were flying all over the place. I tried to carve an ice heart, and it ended up looking somewhat like a heart by the time I was finished. Justin wasn’t quite sure what he was trying to create. He ended up with a curved piece of ice. We were both pretty proud that we managed to carve anything at all!
This activity was a lot of fun and I highly recommend that you give it a shot.
DO: WARM UP BEFORE YOU SLEEP
All overnight guests have access to the outdoor spas and saunas. Put on your bathing suit and soak in one of the hot tubs. Make sure your body is thoroughly warmed up before you go to sleep. Completely dry yourself off and change into your layers of dry clothing. Don’t go to sleep with wet hair as it might freeze.
The spas and saunas are open all night long so you can go for a dip whenever you’d like.
DON’T: BRING YOUR BELONGINGS INTO THE ICE HOTEL
The Hotel de Glace is open to the public until 9:00pm, and you must vacate your room by 9:00am. You don’t want to bring your electronics into your ice room as the batteries will quickly die from the cold temperatures. Where do you keep your belongings during your stay?
Thankfully, when you stay at the Hotel de Glace, you also get a regular hotel room at the neighbouring Valcartier Hotel. You can store your bags, clothing, and electronics there safely and securely. It’s a regular, comfortable hotel room where you can take a hot shower, use the bathroom, watch TV, and even sleep. Yes, if you decide that you don’t want to sleep for the full night on an ice bed, you can retreat to your Valcartier hotel room.
After you enjoy the hot tub and sauna, go back to your hotel room to dry off completely. Change into your overnight clothing and only bring what you need to the Ice Hotel.
The Valcartier Hotel is part of the exciting Village Vacances Valcartier. There’s an outdoor snow tubing park and an indoor water park. We had a thrilling day at the snow tubing park following our overnight stay at the Ice Hotel. I’ll be writing about that experience very soon. Stay tuned!
HOW WAS OUR OVERNIGHT STAY?
Surprisingly, we weren’t that cold! We bundled up in our layers of clothing, hats, and scarves. Then, we climbed into our sleeping bags and zipped ourselves up tightly. There was only a small opening in the sleeping bag for my face. The sleeping bags retained our body heat really well.
Justin managed to get some sleep. On the other hand, I didn’t sleep much. This had absolutely nothing to do with the cold temperatures or the fact that I was sleeping on a bed of ice. The mattress was quite comfortable. I just like to sleep in very strange positions. I usually put my hands around my pillow behind my head. I like to stretch my legs out in odd ways. As I was completely constrained inside the sleeping bag, I just couldn’t get comfortable. I tossed and turned.
We lost all concept of time. After some hours went by, Justin was awake. I whispered to him, “Do you want to go back to the hotel room?” He replied, “Yes, let’s go.”
We put our boots and winter coats back on and vacated the ice room. It was actually already light outside. As it turned out, it was 7:00am. We stayed the full night in the ice room, surviving a night at the Ice Hotel.
With that said, we went back to the Valcartier hotel room and had a snooze for a couple of hours before we had to check out.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND THIS?
Absolutely! We highly recommend staying overnight at the Quebec Ice Hotel. It was an adventure that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. There’s nothing like sleeping in a room made completely from snow and ice. Drinking at the ice bar, flying down the ice slide, and marveling at the dazzling ice sculptures was such a unique experience. It’s the only Ice Hotel in North America, and it’s worth the trip. Even though I didn’t have a restful sleep, I totally loved the whole experience. I would gladly miss out on a little sleep if it meant having a room of ice to call my very own.
Check this item off your bucket list. Definitely stay at the Hotel de Glace.
Want to see more photos from the Quebec Ice Hotel, the Quebec Winter Carnival, and our entire winter trip to Quebec City? Check out our Quebec travel photo album!
Hotel de Glace
1860 Boulevard Valcartier
Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Quebec, Canada
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Disclaimer: We were guests of the Hotel de Glace and Quebec Tourism. Our opinions, as always, are entirely our own.