Quebec City is famous for its European-style architecture, multilingual culture and freshly tapped maple syrup. But the Canadian city may be most well-known for its chilly winters, when temperatures regularly dip below zero. The freezing weather makes it the perfect setting for icy palace Hotel de Glace.
Just 10 minutes from downtown Quebec City, the 32,000-square-foot all-ice hotel has hosted more than half a million visitors since opening in 2001. The standard rooms here are built igloo-style for natural insulation and are intricately carved to fit up to three queen-sized beds. But natural insulation only gets you so warm. The beds, which have a solid ice base topped with a bedspring and mattress, are outfitted with North Face sleeping bags and insulated sheets and pillows. While there are no showers or bathrooms in the rooms, you’ll find heated men’s and women’s washrooms at the onsite Celsius Pavilion.
For a more luxe igloo experience, upgrade to one of the hotel’s themed suites, which come with perks like toasty fireplaces, ice sculptures and even a spa. An homage to Canada’s greatest passion, the hockey suite features NHL-themed bedding and elaborate wall carvings that depict an informal pond game. Above the bed is a large carving of a hulking hockey player holding a stick and smiling earnestly. Inside the hotel, you’ll also find an ice chapel, a popular spot for winter weddings. The intimate white chapel is constructed of a large flower carving overlooking a dramatic dais, ice columns, ice pews (which can be draped with fur throws for the comfort of guests), wood doors and romantic light from the glow of candelabras and lanterns.
When you stay overnight at Hotel de Glace, you can even hit the nocturnal Nordic relaxation area (open daily from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.). This peaceful spot under the stars comes complete with an outdoor Jacuzzi and sauna when you need to warm up. If you’re planning a visit to the seasonal hotel, be sure to dress in lots of layers, as the temperature can range from -13F to 41F. You should also pack hats, scarves, extra socks, boots as well as a swimsuit for the Nordic spa. And don’t worry, you won’t be left completely in the cold: Packages at the hotel include a room at the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec Resort — a three-minute drive away — where you can shower and store your luggage. If you aren’t keen on a sleepover in an igloo, hotel tours are available as well. The Hotel de Glace is open this year through March 25, when changing temperatures will melt it to the ground.
Photo courtesy of Luc Roussea