“Ice Hotel” (or “Hotel de Glace”) sure sounds like a chic, swanky, luxury hotel, doesn’t it? Well, spending the night at the “real” Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada, certainly can be described as a swanky experience with the fur pelts on the beds, but luxury is pushing it a bit — unless you are an extreme camper.
The Ice Hotel is build out of 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice with the help of a steel frame which is removed after the entire structure is frozen into place. If you like your hotel room cold at night, this is the place for you. The freezing bedrooms range in temperature between 23 and 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The hotel is open every January through March then bulldozed down and rebuilt into an original design nine months later.
I’m not kidding when I say everything inside the hotel is made of ice, including the furniture. Here is one of the chairs that sits at the hotel’s entrance and donned with a reindeer pelt. The Ice Hotel welcomes over 65,000 visitors and 4,000 overnight guests each year. Fun Fact: Each year over 3,200 people get their tongues stuck to the hotel’s walls – usually due to a dare from a friend. Okay, it’s not a fact but that was fun. In truth, it’s impossible to get your tongue stuck to the walls because oxygen has been removed from the ice blocks which explains why the ice looks so clear. And why I saw people licking the walls left and right and no one pleading for help to get them unstuck. If there had been, I would have posted photos.
Each room is uniquely themed (notice each room’s walls in the photos) and the bed frames are made of ice with a mattress on top (guests sleep in a mummy sleeping bag brought into the rooms at 9pm). I know what your next question is: What do you do when nature calls? The bathrooms are not built into the hotel. Instead, community restrooms are located in a heated structure near the outdoor hot tubs which are adjacent to the rooms. Showers are found in the locker rooms inside the main office – with hairdryers.
My first experience at the Ice Hotel included a tour of the grounds duringÂ daylight hours with some fellow travel writing friends. We cruised through the rooms, oohing and ahhing over chiseled walls, columns and chandeliers. The hotel is open all day to visitors but the rooms close in the evenings to outside visitors to accommodate the sleepover guests. Next, we made our way to the Ice Bar (open until midnight) where I indulged in vodka cranberry cocktails with their too cool not to be experienced ice cube glasses. After a couple of those tasty beverages we headed over to the ice slide where I tapped into my inner child and slid down, squealing every time. Tip: If you decide to ride the slide, I recommend slick snow pants or else you won’t fly nearly as fast or maybe at all (more like scooting) and there is a good chance your butt will end up with a long-lasting chill. Fortunately, I was wearing the good stuff.
When others got word I was going to spend a night in the Ice Hotel a few adjectives passed my ears including: brave, adventurous, fun and down right crazy.
I also received some great tips – such as to put my clothes at the bottom of my sleeping bag to keep warm and and I was warned that my boots would be very cold first thing in the morning. Tip: My Colorado-based parents had sent me a pair of foot warmers that I put in my boots to keep them warm through the night. I stuffed a pair of socks on top for insulation and they worked great! (Thanks, mom and dad!)
Would I spend the night at the Ice Hotel in Quebec again? Not this year, I need a good 12 months to recover. But next year when there’s a “new” hotel I might just have to, or at least stop in for a drink in an ice cube and a few rides on the slide.