Last week was a pretty eventful week, as I was able to cross off a big bucket list item – a night in Québec City’s beautiful Hôtel de Glace! As a lover of winter, I was ecstatic to have found a Groupon back in October which included a half price stay for two in one of their smaller rooms, two drinks at the ice bar, spa access during our stay, and breakfast to warm us up the morning after. Naturally, I dragged my Filipino-born partner as I now have a personal quest to show him as much of Canada as possible. The entire experience was a chilly, yet invigorating one. Plus, how many people do you know can say they’ve stayed in an ice hotel?!
This year the Hôtel de Glace celebrates its 15 year anniversary, with the theme being space-time. As you walk through the hotel, you witness bits and pieces of past, present, and future, captured and carved into beautifully intricate scenes and sculptures. Upon checking in, we were directed towards the pavilion located beside the hotel where your luggage is stored, which includes a cafeteria, washrooms, and change rooms for your use. Here we signed up for an information session later in the evening which gives you all the information you need to stay warm during your chilly night (the hotel also sends you a guide once you book your night). You only have access to your room from 9pm until 9am, so until then you can wander through the ice maze and check out all the sights, grab some grub at the cafeteria, or rent some snowshoes and check out the trails east of the pavilion. We proceeded to check out the sights as I ran around like a kid in a candy store.
Inside the hotel there were 16 different suites, all dating different time periods throughout history with some futuristic rooms thrown into the mix. Additionally there were 28 igloo-style suites, which is what our room was. We spent the day wandering around checking out each of them, taking breaks to warm up and fill our bellies. One thing to note if you do plan a stay, is that the cafeteria closes at 7pm. However you always have access to your car and there are a few places close to the hotel’s location where you can grab some grub. If you don’t feel like driving, or have already indulged in some ice wine, the hotel staff also have menus on site where you can get pizza and what not delivered!
Once my shutter-happy finger was tired along with my legs from some intense snowshoeing, we made it just in time to our meeting to learn about preparing for our evening in the hotel. It was especially important that we pay attention considering it was -25°C that night! Talk about getting the true Canadian winter experience, eh? They gave us the ins and outs to best keep the heat in, and we were prepared with our polyester thermals to keep us warm and dry. After this we quickly ran to Subway to get some grub, and returned to indulge in the new-found quiet of the hotel… and the ice bar!
As we started getting tired, we made our way to the change rooms to warm up. Our guide at the information session suggested going into the sauna to warm up and make sure you’re dry before heading into your room to curl up for the night. Unfortunately the spa area was quite busy as everyone was hoping to use it at the same time. After some warm hot chocolate, we decided that some sunrise spa time was a better plan. We both had a nice long shower before we made the trek to our room. Now the fun part… getting into the sleeping bag! It was a bit of a struggle to get all the layers straight, but we managed to get comfy and had a short, but good sleep in our mini-igloo.
6am came way too quickly, but it was worth waking up to an empty spa all to ourselves. The spa area has 4 hot tubs and a small sauna, all surrounded by beautiful trees and a snow wall. We were supplied with towels and a bathrobe at the front desk, so we had everything we needed to run from the pavilion to the hot tub to the sauna to the hot tub to the… you get the picture. One word of advice – bring flip flops! Even though they don’t help temperature wise, they help your feet from sticking to the ice as you get in and out of the hot tub. They’re a plus for traction too so you don’t wipe out!
After finishing off our early morning spa time with a hot shower, we indulged in the wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet the hotel had to offer. With full bellies and warm bodies, we took one last jaunt around the hotel to admire all the carvings once more before saying goodbye. We were sad to leave the sheer ephemeral beauty, but very gracious for the seat warmers in the car!