Dispatch from Quebec City: Feeling Hot at the Ice Hotel

And by hot, I’m definitely talking about temperature. But more on that in a minute. The Hôtel de Glace, an engineering marvel in snow and ice near Quebec City, is built every year in December and destroyed in April. This year’s edition features 36 suites and guest rooms, a wedding chapel, and the world’s largest ice bar (I’m not sure there are too many of those, but still). Staying here is truly an experience. At night, the interior of the hotel becomes a wonderland awash in light, as the LEDs embedded in the clear ice bathe rooms and halls in a vivid array of colours. At the ice bar, people dance or sit around the fireplace (which channels the heat generated out the top through a pipe), sipping from glasses made completely of ice. Nearby, there’s an ice slide. Not surprisingly, kids love the hotel: they’re basically getting the chance to sleep in North America’s largest snow fort.

Each guest is required to attend a half-hour briefing, during which they’re given step-by-step instructions on how to get ready for bed. After hitting the outdoor hot tubs, I followed these steps precisely, standing on my bed (the floor is made of snow, after all), putting on non-cotton clothes (cotton holds humidity, a bad thing), a fresh pair of socks, and slipped into the heavy-duty North Face sleeping bag provided. Surprisingly, I felt too hot. But cooling off was more difficult than you might think. Sticking an arm out of the bag merely made that one part of my body very cold. Eventually, I found a good balance, opening the bag enough (limbs inside) to let in a sufficient amount of cool air to regulate my temperature within a 30 below sleeping bag. And, you know what? I actually slept pretty well on my bed of ice. But getting up in the morning in that very, very cold bedroom? That was not so much fun.

—Tim Johnson, CF’s super cool contributing editor

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