Ice hotels are unique, destination hotels that can be found in northern climates. The notion of staying in an ice hotel may be a romantic one, but what are the cold, hard facts of staying in this arctic accommodation? The Quebec Ice Hotel (French: Hôtel de Glace, oh-tel de glass) is the only one in North America. Here is what you can expect during a visit to this memorable accommodation.
The Quebec Ice Hotel is about 20 mins out of downtown Quebec City or about 30 mins from the Quebec City International Airport. The Ice Hotel itself is set just apart from a simple lodge where guests check in and leave belongings in a locker room.
Temperature of the Guest Rooms
The temperature inside an ice hotel runs between -3 degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit) and -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). Like an igloo, the four-foot thick ice walls insulate the interior and protect guests from the wind.
Tours of the Quebec Ice Hotel are available until the early evening, but ticket holders may stay on at the Ice Bar until midnight, after which the hotel remains open only to those people who have bought an overnight package.
For an additional cost, tours can include transportation to and from hotels in Quebec City.
Advantages To Staying Overnight
The Quebec Ice Hotel is a unique, fairytale-like structure. The artistry and work that has gone into its erection are truly impressive, and the interior lighting gives the Quebec Ice Hotel a strange and glorious glow. All of this magic is best appreciated at night when fewer people are actually in the hotel. Tours stop in the early evening, the DJ amps it up, and the hotel is turned over to the brave souls planning to stay the night.
Staying overnight at the ice hotel is for hardy people who don't mind foregoing the comforts of a conventional hotel for the experience of sleeping in an upscale igloo. After a drink in the ice bar and a soak in the outdoor hot tub (however, not hot enough to warm up), you can hit the sauna (thankfully, hot). Upon bedtime, follow the instructions as laid out earlier by Ice Hotel staff: snuggle into a sleeping bag—which is laid out on a bed of solid ice with a wooden boxspring and mattress set on top—and enjoy a few hours of sound sleep. Some people wake up at night during the coldest hours and may not get the best rest.
Rooms at the Quebec Ice Hotel do not have doors, but do have a pull curtain for privacy. Noise does not seem to be a problem. Most people conserve their energy and retire quietly into the the hollow silence you would expect of an igloo. Beds have a light switch built right onto the bed for convenience.
Where to Go to the Bathroom
A heated structure adjacent to the outdoor hot tubs and sauna has electricity, male / female changing rooms, flush toilets, hairdryers, and lockers.
Where to Eat at the Ice Hotel
If meals are included in your package, they'll be served just up the road at the Auberge Duchesnay.
How to Prepare for Staying at the Ice Hotel
First, decide whether a night at the Ice Hotel is really something you want to do, or is it just a romantic notion. Some shivering, shell-shocked people were just not versed in the realities of staying overnight in an ice hotel. Remember, a tour and a drink at the Ice Hotel is an option (and there's a glorious and warm lodge just a stone's throw away from the Ice Hotel for accommodation). If you decide that staying at the Ice Hotel is what you want, check out the promotions and packages available online. Most packages include a delicious dinner and a room at the neighboring Auberge Duchesnay (a kind of insurance policy against the cold). Promotions are more bare-bones.
What's Included at the Ice Hotel
Promotions and packages vary in price and in what they include. Overnight stays include an Ice Bar cocktail, access to the hot tubs and sauna, gear to sleep in the Ice Hotel rooms (thermal sleeping bag and camping pillow) plus instructions on how to stay warm, and a hot morning beverage. Many promotions also offer a hot breakfast at the Auberge Duchesnay, just a three-minute walk up the road.
Packages are more comprehensive in their offerings, including a room at the Auberge Duchesnay—either as back-up or primary accommodation—and dinner at the Auberge restaurant. Packages generally have themes, such as romance or adventure. Rates run from about $200 CAD (or around $150 USD) per night, per person plus taxes.