A Night at the Ice Hotel in Quebec

Stacey Kent sings a beautiful song about going to an ice hotel. I’m not quite sure the actual experience of staying at an ice hotel is as classical and elegant as the piano-driven, lounge-singer tune makes it out to be – it’s more like arctic camping than a candlelight dinner (I wonder if she ever went?) – but either way, the writing in it is fun.

Heavy clothing at all times
Is the expected norm
Even candlelight at dinner
Is considered too dangerously warm
And when the time comes for us to sleep
We’ll spread out our reindeer fleece
And curl up together
On an ice block carved for two

They’ve built it all with ice, that’s pure and clear
The sofas, the lobby
Even the chandelier
A thermostat guarantees
A steady minus five degrees
What other place could serve our needs so well?
Let’s you and me go away
To The Ice Hotel

Last week I had another chance to stay at the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City. It’s the only ice hotel in North America these days (I believe there used to be one in Montreal). It’s the only hotel experience I can think of that requires a briefing beforehand, which makes it pretty cool in my book. For me it was a nice mix of art, novelty, and adventure. You definitely need your sleeping bag – the temperature inside the hotel is below freezing, obviously – but at the same time, you’re struck with this kind of amazement that makes the cold a welcomed part of the experience. I mean, it wouldn’t be an ice hotel without ice.

IMG_2706

One of the best parts of the experience for me that goes largely un-talked about (the appeal of the hotel itself needs no explanation) is the sound deprivation you experience in your room – the snow and ice create an atmosphere of complete, deafening silence. As an outdoorsman and an appreciator of peace and quiet, I enjoyed this aspect. One of the staff members commented to me that many people describe a night in the Hotel de Glace as “one of the best night’s sleep they’ve had in a long time” because it is “the first time they’ve experienced total silence.” I would love to think the latter is true, but, for what it’s worth, I did not hear anyone describe the night sleep as the best they’ve had in a long time.

That all said, I did sleep very well. I was warm in the bag and I slept through the entire night without a problem. Like a lot of people, I was concerned about having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Getting out of the sleeping bag in the frigid cold is not something you necessarily want to do (there are port-a-potties just outside the hotel).

It was funny: On the check-in form, where they make you initial to agree you won’t smoke in the room or whatever, there was a little section about peeing in the room. If you did, it would be a $300 fine. I had to laugh at it. The fact that it needs to be on there says a lot about where we are as a species. I decided to steer clear of temptation and slept with an empty plastic water bottle at my feet. But as it turns out I did not need it.

Here are some pictures. I’ll be writing a logistical story about the experience for Travel Pulse. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

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