Quebec’s Ice Hotel
Located just outside Québec City is the Hôtel de Glace, the only hotel in North America made entirely of ice and snow. Modelled on Sweden’s Ice Hotel, this frozen palace is created from 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow every year, a process that takes some 50 very talented people around six weeks at a cost of around $1M.
In addition to its 44 rooms and themed suites, the Hotel de Glace boasts an ice bar, an ice wedding chapel, a Nordic area with hot tubs and sauna under the stars and even an ice slide. Since the hotel first opened in 2001, they have played host to some 55,000 overnight guests. Pretty impressive given that visitors will only spend one night here.
During the 2015/2016 season, 5,400 guests slept in the Hotel de Glace – and 133 of these were families! We didn’t get the chance to overnight, but we did visit and enjoyed an excellent tour of the hotel during which time we learnt all that you need to know about staying at the Hotel de Glace with kids.
Staying at The Ice Hotel
Of the 44 rooms, some are simple and others are incredibly elaborate with intricate carvings and designs. Each year the hotel employs a different theme and last season it was ‘Rivers’. As such, the themed suites all incorporated this into their design and there were fish carved along a snowy wall, a polar bear carved from snow, a woolly mammoth snow relief, a skidoo made out of ice and much, much more.
The rooms all feature a bed with a solid ice base and a mattress on top. A small bedside table stands alongside and that’s it! There are no other amenities in the rooms and the bathrooms are in a different building – so here’s hoping that you don’t have to get up and go during the night!
Rooms are available to staying guests from 9pm only as the hotel is open for tours during the day. Once you arrive, you are given very detailed instructions on how to prepare yourself for a night in your ice bedroom and how to keep warm. Sleeping bags, bed sheets and pillows are provided and you’re told exactly how to use them – essentially you cocoon yourself into your sleeping bag so that only your eyes can be seen!
After you have received your sleeping instructions, guests are invited to mingle at the Ice Bar and enjoy the hotel’s hot tubs and sauna under the stars.
Various packages are available and prices depend on what type of room you would like; standard rooms are the cheapest and the elaborate carved suites are the most expensive. Despite the price tag, however, the fancy high-end suites always get booked up first!
Staying at The Ice Hotel with Kids
Can you stay at the Ice Hotel with kids? Absolutely! There are no special dates dedicated for families and children are welcome at any time throughout the season. Here’s what you need to know.
- There are no age restrictions for children staying at the Hotel de Glace; the youngest guest to stay at the hotel was a six-month-old baby!
- There are modified sleeping bags for kids. You receive detailed instructions for your overnight stay when you book your room including details on what to wear and what to pack to bring with you.
- Depending on what package you book, a back-up room can be had at the Four Points by Sheraton. So, if the worst comes to the worst and you (or your child!) freak out in the middle of the night, there’s a bedroom with heating waiting nearby.
- Once the lights go out, the rooms are dark! Some guests say that the darkness and silence is incredible and resulted in their best sleep ever.
- In addition to the ice slide in the hotel (which my son enjoyed a lot), kids can enjoy snow tubing and the snowshoe trail.
- Particularly good times to visit for families include the Normandin Spring Break when special activities are organised for kids. Last season these included outdoor ice games, tubing, a Super Slide, face painting and a maze. The Closing Weekend is also good for kids with outdoor activities for families.
- At other times during the season there’s the Godin family Sugar Shack, where kids can get their maple taffy fix! Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Booking a Stay at The Ice Hotel
- Booking has just opened for the 2016/2017 season so make your reservation!
- Prices start from CA $399.50 per person for one night at the Hotel de Glace.
- Various packages are available including Adventure, Discovery, Romantic and The Ultimate Getaway.
- Discounts are offered on Sunday night bookings.
- Bookings can be made either by phone or via their website here.
- The Hotel de Glace is open from January to March.
Tours of the Ice Hotel
If sleeping on a bed of ice just sounds a little too chilly then you can always take a tour of the hotel instead. There are various tours available (all get you fast track access to the hotel at weekends):
- Regular Tour – a tour of the hotel, either by yourself or with a guide
- Cocktail Package – a tour of the hotel followed by a cocktail served in an ice shot glass
- Lunch & Tour – a tour of the hotel followed by lunch in the hotel’s restaurant (sadly not made of ice!)
- Behind The Scenes Tour – a tour of the hotel that includes details on how the hotel is constructed and maintained, a visit to the Ice Workshop, make your own Ice Glass and finish it all off with a cocktail in the Ice Bar.
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Disclosure: Thank you to the Hotel de Glace for our tour!
For more ideas on travelling in Canada with Kids, take a look at our Family Guide to Canada