Connecting the words “frigid” and “honeymoon” doesn’t make sense. Unless you’re in Canada, in Quebec, in the dead of winter, and are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime way to kick off a life of marital bliss.Sitting in the chapel of the Hotel de Glace, marveling at its beauty, we listened intently to our tour guide’s description of the weddings that had been held there, of the surprises that brides and grooms had sprung on each other inside these walls of ice. Yes, ice. Now in its 12th year, the Hotel de Glace – Quebec’s seasonal Ice Hotel, a phoenix of ice and snow – rises each December to melt away in spring. This year’s theme is “Journey to the Center of Winter,” inspired by Jules Verne. Walking through the hotel’s snow tunnels, you’ll feel like you’ve burrowed deep into the planet.
Each of the 44 rooms is a unique and delicate work of art, filled with three-dimensional carvings. Before retiring to their beds, are treated to the warmth of Polar Spas – hot tubs al fresco – before diving beneath the sheets on their refrigerated beds. Oh, wait. There are no sheets!
A furry blanket sits atop the comfy but icy cold mattress, and you sleep atop that in a North Face mummy bag. Individually. Honeymoon snuggles? Nose-to-nose, like the Eskimos. Anything else might lead to frostbite.
The common areas – with the exception of Pavilion Celsius, which holds the bathhouse and lockers – are not heated. It’s up to you to keep moving to keep warm. Our crew did a good job of hopping to the disco beat at the Ice Bar.
After toasting each other with our ice glasses, downing delightfully warming drinks made with maple cream liqueur, we slipped away from the crowd for a little playtime.
With the kiddies out of the way, it was time for adults to play … on the Grande Glissade, a big ice slide that swirled around an enormous chamber.
Here, we could be snowflakes tumbling to the ground, or just plain silly.
Trying to catch pictures of each other slipping past through the translucent walls, we missed our group slipping back out to the front entrance and the tour bus. Oops! Thankfully, we caught up with them all again before they were done shopping.
Hotel de Glace is a stunning piece of impermanent art, a wonderland of ice and snow. But as for sleeping inside an ice cube? We’re happy to have just taken the tour. Us Floridians will leave a night with the refrigerator door open to our friends of hardier stock.
Visit Hotel de Glace
The Hotel de Glace closes March 24, unless it starts to melt earlier. Tours are offered daily in both English and French at different set times, and cost between $16-21 CDN, depending on your age and the time of day. After your tour, you can wander around and take a closer look at the ice sculptures in the common areas. It takes a few visits to each room to catch everything, since the art is so detailed.
Thinking of an overnight stay? Don’t say we didn’t warn you: it’s COLD! You can make reservations online, and they have a handful of package deals. Room rates start at $495 CDN for an experience you won’t forget.
Dress warmly! You’ll need to in order to brave the chill. Gloves, hat, scarf, and boots are not optional inside these walls.