When I committed to spending a night at the Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada, I pictured a cozy well-lit room with warm beds and a fireplace.
In reality, the bed is a giant block of ice, fitted with a thin layer of wooden box spring and a mattress.
topped with deer skins.
Instead of doors, the rooms have curtains to provide just enough privacy, while enabling hotel staffs to check on you every few hours.
And unless you are in the Arctic Spas Suite, or one of the premium suites, you can forget about fireplaces.
For a visitor, Hôtel de Glace is the perfect fairy-tale winter wonderland.
Built entirely of ice and snow, it comes with beautifully sculpted hallways
with an ice slide
An ice sculpture exhibit
And many themed rooms and suites – the theme changes each year
such as the Owl Suite
the Chess Suite
the Polar Bear Suite
the Citadel Suite
And the Igoloo Suite
Spending the night in the hotel, however, where the outside temperature hovers about -20°C and the inside temperature between -3°C and -5°C, is not for the faint of heart.
Upon checking in, a 45-minute orientation was given to help us prepare for the extreme conditions. And should we decide to bail out last minute (as I was seriously considering), there’s always a leather couch and a warm living room in the lobby of an adjacent building, on a first come first serve basis. Unless of course, you paid the price for a backup room at the Valcartier Hotel during booking, which is not necessarily a bad idea.
My night began at the Ice Bar, where I received my complimentary cocktail, served in an ice glass.
There weren’t many people at the bar. I quickly retreated to a corner where I found a knife and a block of ice and started to chisel. I worked on it for a while, couldn’t set my mind on a design, lost interest and eventually gave up.
Then, as instructed, I took a hot shower, tipped-toed to the hot tub outside (in the snow), where I enjoyed a peaceful moment under the stars all by myself, before joined by several other guests.
Alternating between sauna and hot tub, chatting with people from around the world, my body warmed up. It is time to head to the room.
The room was cold. I quickly stripped down to my thermal underwear, slipped into the arctic sleeping bag – taking care to keep my nose and mouth outside of the bag, so I don’t breath damp air into the bag – and after a few minutes, dozed off.
I slept like a baby.
The next morning I woke up staring at a hole right above me on the (snow) ceiling, where a beam of day light crept through. It must have been around 7AM. Realizing where I was, I touched my nose, it seemed frozen but, still attached.
On my way to breakfast I passed several rooms in the hallway. It was obvious – from the untouched sleeping bags, which only got delivered when there were guests in the room – that some guests had chosen to spend the night elsewhere.
But I did it! I had just spent a night at one of the coolest place on earth! And the thought of that was exhilarating!
Hôtel de Glace
Address: 1860 Boulevard Valcartier, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, QC G0A 4S0, Canada
Phone: +1 418-844-2200
Click here to see where I have stayed around the world.
Coming up next in the Travel section: Rouen, France