The Entrance to Quebec City's Ice Hotel

The Entrance to Quebec City’s Ice Hotel/Photo: Helen Earley

Québec City’s Ice Hotel has a few hidden secrets. For example, do you know that you can get married there? Each winter , dozens of couples from as far and wide as Dubai and Australia tie the knot in the chapel. Below are some other interesting tidbits that we discovered at the incredibly cool Hotel de Glace, in Québec.

1. You Don’t Have to Stay There to Experience It:

The Ice Hotel is open to daily tourists as well as overnight guests, and since each room is uniquely designed, it’s definitely worth a visit, especially for those interested in architecture and design. Our favourite room? Room 20 – Cocoa Flurry, designed by students Mia Chen, Jo-Yu Tseng, and Zhong Ji from the McGIll School of Architecture.

Cocoa Flurry Ice Hotel Photo by Helen Earley

“Cocoa Flurry”, designed by students from McGill School or Architecture/Photo: Helen Earley

2. The Walls are Stronger Than Cement

The main walls of the ice hotel are made from 30,00 tons of mechanically produced packed snow. When the walls are completed, they are stronger than cement, enabling cool features like this all-ages indoor slide. But the strong material means that at the end of the season, the hotel has to be destroyed be a wrecking ball. The ice hotel takes 55 days to build, but only 5 hours to destroy.

Ice Hotel Indoor Slide

The thrilling all-ages indoor slide at Québec City’s Ice hotel/Photo: Helen Earley

3 .The Water is Specially Treated:

If you try licking a brick in the ice hotel, your tongue won’t stick. That’s because the water used at the ice hotel is specially distilled, in order to make the ice transparent. But, since it’s not frostbite-on-the-tongue material, the special ice is also perfect for making cool square drinking glasses, used at the ice hotel’s bar, Neige. Order an ice-glass of traditional Caribou (adults only) – guaranteed to warm you up!

Caribou in ice glasses at Quebec City's Ice Hotel

Caribou in ice glasses at Québec City’s Ice Hotel/Photo: Helen Earley

4. Guests Get a Back-up Room

A night in the ice hotel includes a cocktail, sauna and spa, your sleeping equipment, breakfast…and a second, conventional room, a few steps away. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, you need a place to put your gear, especially your phone. Because iPhone batteries can’t withstand extremely cold temperatures, it would lose power in minutes, or possibly shut down altogether. The back up room is also very useful in case you decide to abandon your stay. But if you buckle up tightly in your special sleeping bag and liner, there’s no reason to be cold.

You can sleep with the Walruses at Quebec City's Ice Hotel

You can sleep with the Walruses at Quebec City’s Ice Hotel/Photo: Helen Earley

5. It’s the Best Night’s Sleep You’ll Ever Have

According to marketing manager, Marjolaine De Sa, the health benefits of the Ice Hotel are incredible. With “100% oxygen” and extremely low humidity, conditions like sleep apnea can virtually disappear during your stay. In fact, she claims, you might sleep so well that she’ll have to wake you for breakfast in the morning! Another reason people sleep so deeply at Québec’s Ice Hotel is because the rooms are pitch black, and completely devoid of noise. “It’s so silent, you’ll freak out”, says De Sa. And then you’ll sleep like a baby.

Suite 42 Santa's Workshop at the Ice Hotel

Santa’s Workshop at the Ice Hotel, Québec City/Photo: Helen Earley

6. It’s Attached to a Family Adventure Park

In previous years, the Ice Hotel was attached to a Sheraton, but this year (and for the next 70 years, according to their contract) the Ice Hotel will be hosted just outside the city at Vacances Valcartier, a popular family adventure park that offers tubing, snow rafting, skating and general snowy fun.

For water that’s well above zero, Valcartier has a massive indoor water park with 14 watersides, a lazy river, a wave pool and a double-sized artificial surf wave. Head to Valcartier any day of the winter and you will see families passing each other in the corridors as they head to their preferred activity, arctic or tropical. Surreally, half are wearing ski masks and snowsuits, the others in shorts and bikinis!

Mother and daughter tubing at Valcartier Quebec

There’s plenty to do at Valcartier/Photo: Helen Earley

On this visit to Québec, we only went for the day tour, but we can’t wait to return with the whole family for a sleep-like-a-baby night at the Hotel de Glace, followed by couple of fun-filled days of adventure at Valcartier.

Ice Hotel Details:

Season: January 3rd, 2019 – late March
Location: 1860, boulevard Valcartier, Valcartier Québec, G0A 4S0
Website: Hotel de Glace
Phone: 1 888 384-5524

Helen Earley is a Halifax-based travel writer. She was a guest of Québec Original and Québec City Tourism