Sleeping in the Ice Hotel in Quebec

Couples Put Sex Life on Ice at Hotel de Glace in Quebec City

By Will McGough

A premium deluxe suite with a woodstove at Quebec City's Ice Hotel. photos by Will McGough.
A premium deluxe suite with a woodstove at Quebec City’s Ice Hotel. photos by Will McGough.

I was blow drying my hair, thinking about what a fellow writer had said, laughing in my head. During the orientation session, his initial response to the sleeping bag instructions was to ponder the question: What if you’re trying to get busy?

It’s not all dirty thoughts – the wonder is valid when, as a travel writer, you have to decide whether or not to recommend it as a romantic getaway for couples. I was about to sleep in the Ice Hotel in cold Quebec City, Quebec Canada.

They told us we’d have access to our rooms from 9 p.m. until 9 a.m., that a sleeping bag would be waiting on the bed. They recommended we make use of the hot tubs (open from 9 p.m. till 8 a.m.) to raise our body temperatures, but warned us to completely dry ourselves before retiring for the evening, hence the blow drying.

While you only have your room in the Ice Hotel for twelve hours, there is a heated building right next to it with lockers, showers, bathrooms, and a cafe. You don’t bring your luggage into your room at the Ice Hotel, you use the lodge as a home base and a cushion to warm up every once in a while, in between exploring the hotel and having a drink at the ice bar.

Privacy is Limited

You see how a lot of that description reduces the idea of it being a traditional romantic getaway – privacy is limited to the tundra that is your room (kept between 23 and 27 degrees Fahrenheit). Otherwise, you’re mingling with others – which is nice, but I realize the cold doesn’t really stir everyone’s fire.

Worry not, brave lovers – there are many aspects of the Ice Hotel that allows the conditions to enhance, not hamper, your togetherness.
The first: You can zip together your sleeping bags, creating one giant hot pocket of body heat. And if you don’t, I think you’re missing out on an opportunity to actually care for each other. Sex games aside, it’s below freezing and the thought of sleeping and shivering next to a girlfriend in a separate sleeping bag seems to me, in all honesty, ridiculous. Get close, share the warmth.

Doorway of a regular room at the Ice hotel.
Doorway of a regular room at the Ice hotel.

To ensure you have a place to get away from the others that isn’t frozen, shell out the extra cash to upgrade to the Premium Deluxe suite, complete with a personal hot tub and sauna. While all other 35 rooms will be sharing the three hot tubs in the common area, you’ll be sitting directly outside your room in a private one.

There’s only one room that has it, so get on your reservation as far ahead as you can. When I thought about the experience in terms of it being once in a lifetime, the novelty of it really took over and made me feel greatly appreciative, happy, and lucky. Who the hell sleeps at an Ice Hotel? It was an experience that I’ll remember forever and a great story to have on the resume.

You’ll Always Remember

No matter what happens in the future, you’ll always remember that night at the Ice Hotel – the person you shared it with forever burned into that memory. The details might fade over time of a weekend at some bed and breakfast in some cutesy town, but you’ll never fail to remember a stay at the Ice Hotel, I can guarantee that.

Singles and camping fanatics should not be discouraged from taking the experience, that’s where the social aspect of the design comes in. I had no problems making friends with other couples, other solo travelers. Everyone shares the same common area, the lockers are all right next to each other, couches and free coffee in a makeshift lobby. The Ice Bar can get crowded on Friday nights, when the hotel is full and it’s open to the public (they bring in a DJ).

Will McGough ice carving.
Will McGough ice carving.

That would be a good opportunity for you to try out breakdancing in the snow. And be sure to go down the ice slide and try your hand at ice carving.

Sleeping in the Ice

The Hotel de Glace is open seasonally from January until late March. The hotel is demolished at the end of every season and rebuilt the next, each year with a different theme and design. Dates of operation are approximate – construction cannot begin on the hotel until the temperature is -5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) for a few days in a row. Rooms start at $200/person. For a themed suite add $50 per person, $75 for a themed suite with fireplace, $100 for a large themed suite with fireplace, and $175 for the Premium Deluxe suite with the private hot tub and sauna.

Will McGough is a regular contributor to GoNOMAD. He writes a daily travel blog called Wake and Wander, part of GoNOMAD’s blog network.

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