Drinks on ice, definitely. But sleeping on ice? That’s hard to fathom. Yet despite preconceptions, over 48,000 visitors have done just that at the Quebec City Ice Hotel. Travel Writer Kate Pocock was one of them. One of the most surprising highlights for her was the silence. Because the walls are made of thick snow, it’s almost soundproof.
“I’ve never experienced that kind of quiet before,” says Pocock.
She also appreciated the décor with its intricately carved ice reliefs and lighting, which created a feeling of “sleeping in a work of art”.
Was she cold?
“Only my nose,” says Pocock. But she was surprised when she reached for her bedside glass of water in the morning and found that it had completely frozen! “It was a true Canadian experience!” she says.
Others come for bragging rights alone.
“The experience is a bucket list thing,” says Marie-Pier Daigle, a spokesperson for the hotel.
“People want to try it and say “˜I did it! I slept in an Ice Hotel’!” But once they arrive, she continues, they fall in love with the décor and atmosphere
It’s a fairy tale effect that requires 30,000 tons of custom-made snow, 500 tons of ice, and 50 builders to create. Remarkably, the 44 quest rooms, Ice Bar, Ice café, chapel, slide, ice furniture, chandeliers, sculptures, and reliefs at the Quebec City Ice Hotel are completed in only six weeks. The Hotel de Glace stands in all its shimmering glory for three months before disappearing until the next year.
2015 is the 15th anniversary of the hotel, and this year’s theme will celebrate the milestone by playing with idea of the passage of time.
If you plan on visiting, here are some tips on what to expect”¦
Follow the directions
Less than 1% of guests leave during the night, and if you follow the detailed instructions provided by the hotel you’re unlikely to be one of them. Pay particular attention to appropriate clothing. Pocock recounts a guest who had brought the recommended gloves and scarf, except they were made of silk. Hardly adequate for Canadian winters in which the average January temperatures go down to -13 degrees. However, one of the biggest misconceptions is that the outdoor temperatures affect the warmth of the rooms. The insulation effect of the snow ensures temperatures remain at minus four or five, regardless of what’s happening outside.
Warm up in the hot tub
Not only is soaking in the steamy water underneath the cedar trees one of the best ways to enjoy the winter wilderness that surrounds the Quebec City Ice Hotel, but the whirlpools along with the sauna also warm the body, making for a more comfortable slumber. But it’s very important to make sure you’re completely dry before you turn in for the night. There’s a heated, not-made-of-snow pavilion next door to dry off, change clothes, store your clothing or just relax with some hot chocolate.
Don’t plan for early check-ins or late check-outs
The site is not only a hotel, but an attraction as well, and tours mean that overnight guests can only gain access to their rooms from 9PM and must vacate at 8AM. But that gives time to take advantage of the five kilometres of trails available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A dogsledding outfitter is close by if you’d like to cross yet another adventure off your bucket list.
And, of course, there’s the star of the hotel – the Ice Bar. It has room enough for 400 revellers and all of its glasses are carved of ice. To warm you up try a Quebec cider with vodka or dancing at the disco. Once you’ve finished your drink on ice, you’ll be ready for your bed of ice.
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Written by Jennifer Merrick