A few years ago I got to cross off my bucket list the entry, “Stay at an Ice Hotel.” In Quebec, Canada, each year, the Hotel de Glace is constructed entirely of ice and snow. It is different each year with elaborate theme rooms carved from glowing ice with saturated lighting making everything ethereal (often slowly morphing from deep indigo to magenta to forest green and so on). The beds are ice, the glasses serving vodka in the bar are ice, the dance floor is snow, the walls are ice blocks, everything is frozen and genuinely a spectacle to be seen. There are a couple of heated trailers used as communal restrooms, and a hot tub…but aside from that, it’s pretty dang cold. The ice beds are topped with reindeer pelts as insulation, then there is a foam pad, and you are given a thermal sleeping bag with a washable silk liner. At bedtime, after the hotel is no longer open for tours, you leave all your luggage and belongings in big suitcase lockers at a building up the hill, then walk down to the ice hotel itself. They teach you techniques to put your clothes stacked on top of boots, and how to wrap yourself up like a mummy, but don’t cover your mouth since condensation will freeze and make you colder. It is not a romantic experience by any means, but not as edgy or uncomfortable as you might guess. The extreme cold outside your sleeping bag, and the extreme snuggliness of the world inside your bag, means you actually sleep for a few hours, if not the whole night through. I recommend a visit highly, to the Quebec ice hotel or one of the others in various Northern climes (but if asked to do it again, I’d probably cheerfully say once is enough for an overnight…but I’d love to visit during the day and early evening).
A thing I love about the Quebec Hotel de Glace, is that this year they are partnering with community members of the First Nations of Northern Quebec—the Inuit, Cris, Innus, and the Huronne-Wendat Nation as the host Nation, will promote their communities through various activities and demonstrations. During the last three weekends of February, game tasting, artistic performances, traditional Native camps, local initiative regarding durable development, and much more will be on hand, providing a fresh avenue for cross-cultural understanding. This makes it the perfect time to go.