Quebec's Ice Hotel
In the harsh heat of the summer, the idea of spending some holiday time at a hotel built entirely of ice sounds like heaven. And here in Canada, there is just such a paradise.
Each year in Quebec, a new ice hotel is constructed out of more than 500 tons of ice and 15,000 tons of snow. The facility is open to the public between January and April, depending on the seasonal temperatures that year.
The ice insulates the inside space, keeping it warmer than the outdoors, but not quite warm enough to actually melt. The average temperature inside the Ice Hotel is around 25 degrees Fahrenheit (about -4 Celsius). You will need to dress appropriately for your stay, and a suggested packing list is available from the hotel website.
Yes, even the beds are made of ice. You will be supplied with an arctic sleeping bag and fur blankets for your sleeping comfort. It may sound a little harsh, but isn't that half of the adventure of such an unusual accommodation?
Where is it?
The Ice Hotel Quebec is located about half an hour west of the provincial capital of Quebec City, where there is an international airport (Jean Lesage International Airport). There are shuttle busses and taxis available from the city that can take you to the hotel, or you can treat yourself to a helicopter ride instead.
What is there to do?
Within the hotel, there are plenty of areas to explore. If you choose not to spend the night, you can still take a tour of the facility. There is a chapel, art gallery, and the N'ice Club bar.
Besides the interest of the hotel itself, there are all kinds of winter activities available to keep you amused and occupied. There are dog sledding tours, cross-country skiing, skating and ice fishing. You can even take a traditional igloo building workshop.
There isn't a dining room on site, but meals can be enjoyed at the nearby Auberge Duchesnay hotel. There is a bar at the Ice Hotel itself for drinks. The glasses are all carved from solid ice. If you decide to simply tour the Ice Hotel and not sleep there, the Auberge Duchesnay is the closest warm accommodations available.
How much is it?
Non-overnight guests can take a half-hour tour for only $15, and the packages for overnight stay start at $299 per person. The other winter activities do cost extra, with various rates for different activities. A dog sled ride for 1 ½ hours is $78 and an activity day pass for things like skiing and skating is $35. All prices are in Canadian dollars (currently valued at nearly the same as US dollars).