“This will be a magical, unforgettable experience. Your winter adventure begins here!” If you have read any of my other stories, you know that is not something I can pass up. I live for new experiences and great adventures. So, I corral my husband Rafael and 12-year-old daughter Rachel, whip out the credit card for the admittedly high price tag, jump in our car and we are off. We are dazzled when we arrive. It’s something out of a fairytale, a kingdom made of ice. We have arrived at the Hotel de Glace in Quebec.
Everything is made of ice and compressed snow. We walk in and start touring around. There are ice chandeliers, tables, couches and chairs, columns and pictures on the walls. There are sculptures and other artwork that is so beautiful. Flowers, whales, trees, butterflies, fish, frogs and more are sculpted in the walls to look like they are coming right out at you. There are alcoves cut into the walls to create cozy seating areas. A giant ice slide is fun for everyone to go down. The bar is a particular treat. We go in and take a seat on the ice chairs that have fur throws on them. Our drinks are served in square ice glasses. Unfortunately, Rachel’s, which doesn’t have alcohol in it, freezes before she can drink it all!
We wander back outside to see the other buildings. There is a chapel that people can use for weddings. It’s very beautiful, but I can’t imagine wanting to get married where it’s so cold. For it is cold. We are bundled up, with hats, gloves, scarves and long underwear under heavy pants. Our daughter has snow pants on.
There is a maple sugar shack that we stop at. The lady pours hot maple syrup directly on the snow in a stream for about a foot. Then she takes a Popsicle stick and as it starts to cool, she rolls it up to create a lollipop. Rachel loves it.
As evening approaches, white and colored lights come on around the hotel, making it even more beautiful. We attend our mandatory briefing on how to survive our night at the hotel. We get our sleeping bags, and hear about how we need to go in the hot tub and sauna just before bed to raise our body temperature.
The guests stay up late, as the staff has all kinds of games for us to play to keep moving and warm. Eventually, though, Rachel is tired and wants to sleep. We go hang out in the hot tub. That is always fun since we change inside and then run outside in the snow in our bathing suits. We are toasty warm now. We get ready for bed in our warm gear and go to our room in the hotel. A few hours pass fitfully. It’s hard to get really comfortable. The bed is made of ice underneath the fur blanket. The air is literally freezing. I’m nervous for Rachel because she keeps moving and losing her hat. At around 3:30 am she needs to go to the bathroom. This is sort of a joke to me. She never has to do this at home, but this is the second time it has happened at a very inconvenient time while away – the last was in the Amazon while camping. We leave our beds; go outside to the other building where the bathrooms are and then return. The problem now is that we are freezing, with no way to warm up!
The good news is there is an escape hatch if things are not going well. Once you get here you realize why it costs so much for a night’s stay. You are actually paying for a night in two hotels – a warm one and this one. If you are miserable in the middle of the night, you can leave and go back to the other hotel. After trying to get back to sleep for about an hour, shivering in the dark, we give up and admit defeat. We take the shuttle to the other hotel, turn up the heat to very warm and snuggle in bed. It’s blissful!
I’m defeated by the ice hotel. I can’t believe it! I thought I could survive anything for a night. I’m from New England, I ski, and I like the cold. Maybe I could have made it if Rachel wasn’t there for me to worry about, but I will never know, because once was enough!
Can I do this adventure?
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult.
Courage Level: 2 – It doesn’t take courage to stay here, just a bit of fortitude if cold is difficult for you.
Fitness Level: 1 – There is as little walking as you want, although I’m not sure if it’s actually wheelchair accessible because the snowy floor might be hard for wheels to move through.
Do I need special gear?
You need lots of warm clothes; ski gear if you have it or something similar. You need a hat that would be comfortable to sleep in. Bring long underwear, heavy wool or similar socks, snow pants or pants that resist water and a good winter jacket. You need warm sleeping clothes, not cotton. Wool is best if you’re not allergic.
Make sure you have warm boots because the floors are all ice and snow.
You need a bathing suit and something to keep your hair from getting wet when you are in the hot tub before going to bed (a hair clip.)
Bring a camera for all the amazing photo opportunities.
Any other info?
Here is the link to the Hotel de Glace
The Old City of Quebec has a lot to offer. If you are going to be in Quebec to see the Hotel de Glace, you might want to spend a couple days exploring. We stayed at a B&B right in the walled city that we really liked. It was in walking distance to everything, had delicious food, and nice Proprietors. It was toasty warm, too! Maison Historique James Thompson http://www.bedandbreakfastquebec.com/