I remember the announcement when the first ice hotel opened in Sweden. There was much talk about the logistics of a hotel made entirely of snow and ice, and many of us stood by the water cooler wondering if we could ever sleep on an ice bed. Then the Quebec City Ice Hotel tour was created, and the dream of walking into an ice hotel lobby became a reality.
When I venture to Quebec City for Winter Carnival or just a winter escape, I make sure to plan time for a day tour of the Hotel de Glace. I haven’t mustered up the courage to sleep there yet, but someday I will take the plunge and brave the cold for a snooze on an ice bed.
Getting to the Quebec City Ice Hotel
The Ice Hotel and Village Valcartier are located approximately 35 minutes from Quebec City. You will follow the Autoroute Henri-IV/Autoroute 573 N to get there.
About the Village Vacances Valcartier
This vacation village is now the permanent home of the Quebec City Ice Hotel. Now visitors to the hotel will get to experience a stay at the Hotel de Glace while enjoying the amenities of the Valcartier’s winter playground.
An excellent spot for families, the village includes 35 snow slides, an indoor waterpark, and a 4-star hotel with 153 suites. There are five restaurants and a spa on-site as well.
The Quebec City ice hotel is normally open December – March depending on weather conditions. Valcartier Village is the perfect pairing, especially for those planning on staying the night in the ice hotel. If it gets too cold, you can head into your room at the resort to warm up.
You can read more travel reviews on the Quebec Ice Hotel here.
Where to Stay in Quebec City
You may want a hotel right in the hear of Quebec City if you are planning to visit the Valcartier Village for the day. It is effortless to get transportation or drive out to the village from the city. I recommend a stay at either the Hilton Quebec City or the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, depending on your budget.
Packing Tips For the Quebec City Ice Hotel Tour
When visiting the Ice Hotel for a tour, you’ll need the proper winter wardrobe. The temperatures in the city on the day of your ice hotel tour will dictate how you dress. I’ve been to the Ice Hotel with full snow pants and layers and also with just a winter coat. It depends on how cold it is on the day of your tour.
Packing for winter is all about having the right gear and the all-important three-layer rule.
- First Layer – Intimates and thermal layer
- Second Layer – Winter Clothing
- Third Layer – Outwear Protection from the Elements
Packing Tips for Sleeping at an Ice Hotel
I did not sleep at the hotel, and I learned there is a specific system of how to sleep in an ice hotel. Upon arrival, each guest must attend a training session, which will help you prepare for your night at the hotel.
There are some specific safety instructions for how to stay at the hotel, which includes:
- Wear dry, light, synthetic clothing.
- Do not plan to wear the same clothing during the day and night.
- Don’t overdress; heavy clothing and too many layers will cause you to sweat, which will turn to humidity and will make you feel cold.
- Plan to spend some time in the sauna to warm up and dry your body before going to bed.
Ice Hotel Packing Checklist
- hat, scarves, gloves, headband/ear gear (2 of each)
- thermal undergarments (2 of each)
- sweatshirt/outer top (2 of each)
- sweatpant/outer pant (2 of each)
- socks, underwear (3-4 of each)
- bathing suit and flip-flops (for sauna)
- winter coat, snow pants
Different Ice Hotel Theme Each Year
Each year Quebec City’s Ice Hotel is rebuilt with a new theme in mind. While the structure of the hotel is similar, the glass carvings and furnishings are all sculptured around the subject.
In 2018 the Theme was the Circus. Large flags rose atop the ice hotel structure, which looked like a circus tent.
The chapel was built as a separate structure and was just a beautiful and quiet room to sit in and escape. The large lobby had a massive ice sculpture that glittered in the light and all-around was interesting decorative elements inspired by the circus.
In 2016, my first visit to the ice hotel, the theme was Winter Rivers. The snow-packed walls were sculpted to look like moving water, and several pieces of ice furniture laid out to form seating areas.
Some corridors inside the hotel were wider than others with bathroom facilities and a restaurant located outside the primary hotel structure within the Valcartier Village main building.
Quebec Ice hotel Ice Bars and Lounges
Each year the ice hotel has two Ice Bar Lounges where you can grab a drink inside an ice glass. Each glass is only used once, and ice glasses are made daily in the ice hotel’s workshop.
There is an extensive menu of specialty drinks, or you can ask the bartender to whip you up an Ice Hotel specialty cocktail. If you are not staying in the ice hotel for the night, you will still enjoy that bucket list moment of experiencing an iced cocktail in the ice bar. The tour includes a detailed explanation of ice hotel construction and a look inside many of the rooms.
Quebec City Ice Hotel Rooms
Even the basic rooms inside the ice hotel were pretty dreamy. Coloured lights and impressive carved walls were the perfect backdrops to the massive ice bed covered with a fur blanket.
There are double rooms available at the hotel, which sleep four. Some of the places are more elaborate than others and include carved walls and ice furniture. This furniture made of special ice does not melt to the touch and is completely clear.
As we walked through the hotel, we saw more and more elaborate suites, which included some fantastic carvings. My favourite room inside the Quebec City ice hotel was the 2016 polar bear room. The bed carved out to look like a raft floating on an icy flowing river.
The walls sculpted with trees and rocks, and there were two giant polar bears inside the room catching fish on the river bank. The Polar Bear suite was the largest in the hotel and included a personal sauna. Guests at the hotel will notice the rooms do not have doors, just a red curtain for privacy.
Other things to do in Quebec City
Quebec City has so many things to do and see during the winter months. See the following posts for more inspiration when planning your trip.
- Things to do in Quebec City in Winter
- Things to Do at the Quebec Winter Carnival
- What You Need to Know About the Quebec Toboggan Ride
- Winter Relaxation at Siberia Station Spa Quebec City
- Great Places to Eat in Quebec City
Travel assistance provided by Tourism Quebec, Quebec Region, on several media hosted press trips. The opinions expressed in this article are my own.