Every year in Quebec City, on the old grounds of the Quebec Zoo, an architectural marvel takes shape. 50 people work tirelessly for about 6 weeks to construct, mold, and shape North America’s only ice hotel – the Hôtel de Glace.
Made entirely out of snow and ice, 30,000 tons of man-made snow and 500 tons of ice are used to create the hotel each year. Ice blocks are brought in and shaped to create all the furniture pieces and LED lights are arranged throughout to help illuminate the space and give it that pizzazz.
The Hôtel de Glace takes on a new theme each year. In 2016, the theme was ‘Rivers’ and showcased all variations on that theme – underground rivers and caves, frozen glaciers, and even tropical settings. The grand atrium, the tallest part of the hotel at 7m high, took on the experience of walking into an underground cave with stalagmites and stalactites jutting out from the floor and hanging from the ceiling.
Covering an area of 32,000 sq feet, the Hôtel de Glace has 44 rooms, including 17 suites that have been individually designed and styled. Some suites even have special fireplaces that don’t emit heat, including the honeymoon suite that also comes with your very own private spa area. Sculptors from all over the world travel to the city and can create a room in a matter of days.
You don’t have to stay overnight to see the ice hotel. Everyday from 10am till midnight, visitors can explore the hotel and it’s amenities. You can take a guided tour or walk the grounds on your own. The temperature inside the ice hotel stays consistent between -3 to -5 degrees Celsius, so dress warmly.
My favourite feature of the hotel is the Grand Ice Slide. Tapping into my inner child, I couldn’t get enough of the slide and was surprised at how fast I could zip down it! Another stunning feature of the Hôtel de Glace is the Ice Chapel. Yes, a fully functioning Chapel on site made entirely out of snow and ice! If you’re thinking about getting married in a unique setting or having a special function, may I suggest this? The ice benches even come equipped with heated blankets to keep your guests comfortable.
Of course, no hotel would be complete without a bar, and the Hôtel de Glace has 3 to choose from. And the best part is that your drinks are served in glasses made entirely out of ice!
The Hôtel de Glace is only open for 3 months of the year (weather permitting), so if you’re in Quebec City during the winter months, especially if you’re in town for Quebec Winter Carnaval, definitely make a point to check out this incredible Ice Hotel. When the season is all said and done, it only takes about 5 hours to demolish the Hôtel de Glace, but plans are already well underway for next year’s installation.