Quebec City’s Ice Hotel
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quebec City is the only fortified city in Canada. It has all the atmosphere of an ancient French town, with small houses huddled together and horse-drawn carriages to take visitors on romantic tours through the narrow streets of the old “ville”.
It also has an ice hotel, the only one in North America. And on March 19th, 2012 it had to close because warm temperatures made melting an issue for guests staying overnight. And over 5000 guests did stay overnight in 2012. But I was definitely not one of them.
Rebuilt Every Year
Every year huge blocks of ice are used to build the ice hotel, the most accessible ice hotel in the world. It is just seven minutes from downtown Quebec City and well worth a visit if you plan a holiday between Christmas and sometime in the spring. It all depends on the weather.
Cold Weather Attire
As a native Montrealer, I know how cold Quebec winters can be. When I was at the ice hotel a few years ago, I wore my tattered fox fur coat. Fox fur is one of the warmest furs there is because of the long guard hairs. My tall leather boots were lined with shearling and I also wore wool slacks, a woolen sweater with matching cardigan, an angora beret that could be pulled down over my ears, a wool scarf and fur-lined mittens.
One Hour Was Enough
My gear proved to be warm enough for about an hour. We were actually in a giant igloo. Most igloos, however, don’t have a wedding chapel, art gallery, or ice bar where vodka in “glasses” made entirely of ice is offered. They all have one thing in common and that is they melt.
Igloos don’t have discos either but we had a chance to dance and enjoy music in the adjoining disco, also made of ice. By then, however, I was starting to get cold. Because I was on a press tour, I had the chance to stay overnight in the ice hotel. Of course, I declined. To my surprise, I was told that some Japanese guests are so enthusiastic they book for two nights. Management tells them that one night will probably be enough. I totally agree.
Brave Guests Heed Warning
Anyone brave enough – and there were around 5000 last season – would be wise to heed the warnings: you will sleep on ice, protected by a mattress and thick fur pelts and you will use a sleeping bag provided by the hotel. Clothing is supposed to be stuffed into the bottom of the bag so that it will not be frozen in the morning. Last but not least, guests are advised to visit the heated bathroom before retiring because getting there during the night is rather unpleasant.
How To Book
Guests may take a tour of the ice hotel or stay overnight, with back-up at the nearby Auberge Duchesnay. Rates vary and both breakfast and dinner at the Auberge Duchesnay, which is very pleasant, can be included. To learn more, call 877-505-0423 from the U.S. or Canada.