Every year since 2001, Quebec City has been constructing something magical. Filled with incredible ice sculptures, intricate snow carvings and rooms that appear to be made out of crystal, the Hotel de Glace is something to behold. Surviving just 3 months out of the year, this gigantic structure is fun to wander and explore. It made me feel like a kid again as I walked, crawled and slid my way through. You can stay overnight in the Ice Hotel or simply stop by during the day (like K and I did) to explore and have a drink at the ice bar.
The frame of the hotel is made out of steel but the rest is all ice and snow. As you enter the grounds you’ll view a massive, one level structure. It doesn’t look too impressive and resembles a white bunker rather than a magical castle out of Frozen. But wait until you get inside! The hotel is one giant structure and there’s a smaller building off to the side that is the hotel’s chapel (yes you can get married here!).
The Chapel, along with the entrances to the hotel, are fitted with large wooden doors covered in animal fur. It gives the place a touch of wildness and lets you know this isn’t your typical hotel. Entering the one room structure, I found rows of ice benches covered in animal fur (so that your bum won’t freeze!). The walls had beautiful carvings, evenly spaced along the walls.
Walking all the way to the front, the pulpit and tables used by the priest were also made entirely out of ice, allowing me to see right though them to the snow wall behind.
Inside the Hotel
Walking through the giant wooden doors into the main entrance of the ice hotel itself, I wondered if I’d accidentally found the layer of the abominable snowman. The walls and ceiling were carved to resemble a snow cave. Large floor to ceiling ice pillars had been constructed, leading you deeper into to hotel. Along some of the walls where beautiful ice sculptures, professionally done and on display as works of art.
The Ice Slide
Following the hallway off to the left, K and I came to a staircase beside a small tunnel that I had to crouch down to walk under. This was the exit for the ice slide!
We climbed the stair case beside the exit and followed the hallway around until a entered a huge room, filled with cute ice sculptures of penguins. There was a beautiful, giant ice carving on the back wall of a mammoth.
In front of me I found the top of the ice slide, complete with an ice arch that I had to duck underneath as I sat down at the top of the slide. This room could have easily been in Elsa’s ice castle on the top of the mountain! Crouching down, I slide around and down the winding slide, keeping my head low as I exited the through a small tunnel.
Checking out every room could take a while as there are 44 of them! Don’t worry, we didn’t walk in on guests taking a snooze on their ice bed. Even though people stay here overnight, they must be out of the hotel by 8 am as the hotel opens to the public soon after. Red velvet curtains that act as doors to the room as had all be pushed aside, inviting people in.
Some rooms were very plain, with a simple bed frame made of ice and mattress resting on top. But many of the rooms were individual works of art. All the rooms had their own name and theme that reflect a part of Quebec’s heritage.
One room displayed carvings on the walls depicting Quebec native American past. This particular room even had an bench made out of ice in the shape of a canoe! Another room had an aquatic theme with fish carved into the walls that made me think of “Under the Sea”, including blue and green lighting that was fixed right into the snow walls.
The Ice Bar
Next on the itinerary was checking out the ice bar for a drink. Located just to the right of the main entrance, this open area consists of 2 large rooms, each with their own bar. A floor to ceiling ice tree greeted me and I noticed the entire room had beautiful ice carvings adorning its walls.
The full bar, as equipped as any you’d find in a club, took up the entire wall at the end of the room. Built out of ice blocks, and set up with your typical computers and cash machines, fridge and TV screens hanging from above, this bar is the whole package.
After perusing the drink menu and then asking the snowsuit clad bartender what she recommends, we were soon watching our tasty drinks pour into ice glasses.
As we put our ice cups to our lips, the bartender explained that all the ice in Hotel de Glace is specially made so that your skin doesn’t stick to it. They simply suck all the oxygen out of the water and then allow it to freeze. This gives the ice a different texture, very smooth, cold and hard but noticeably different from normal ice. K had commented on this when we had entered the hotel, how it almost has a plastic look and feel to it, but keeps the normal ice properties of being cold and hard.
We took our drinks over to a raised fireplace and enjoyed the warmth emanating from the burning embers. The hotel is kept at a chilly -5 °C so a winter jacket with hats and mitts are definitely recommended (and maybe some long underwear).
The BIG Ice Slide!
After taking one final look around, K and I walked outside into the brilliant sunshine to explore some more. Located behind the hotel, we found a giant tubing slide made out of ice and snow! You need to purchase tickets for a ride down the slide but K and I hadn’t. We wandered over just to have a look and found a hotel employee standing at the top, waiting for customers. She must have been bored because after we explained that we didn’t have a ticket she just shrugged and said go for a slide!
Two tubes can go at once as the tubes follow channels carved in the snow down to the bottom. It wasn’t a very long slide but fun none the less!
Visiting the Hotel de Glace had been on my bucket list for years and I’m so thrilled to have finally seen it in person. Even though we didn’t spend the night, I felt very satisfied and left a bit in awe from just wandering around this giant snow and ice fort.
Have you or would you ever spend the night in an ice hotel?