Would you sleep on a bed made of ice? How about in a bedroom constructed entirely of snow? This is exactly what guests sign up to do at the Hôtel de Glace, the only ice hotel in North America. 2024 marks the 24th year of Quebec’s ice hotel. The Hôtel de Glace is located at the Village Vacances Valcartier roughly 30 minutes north of Quebec City. Because it’s so close to Quebec’s capital, a visit to the Hôtel de Glace makes a great day trip. Go for a self-guided tour, or try staying overnight!
The Hôtel de Glace is part of our wonderful winter weekend road trip to Quebec City. Read more about visiting Quebec City in winter here >
Is the Hôtel de Glace rebuilt every year?
Yes! Quebec’s ice hotel is recreated each year from scratch. Construction begins once the temperatures dip below freezing for one full week and there’s at least a metre of packed snow on the ground. It takes six to seven weeks to build the 45,000 square-foot Hôtel de Glace each year. The precise opening date changes annually depending on conditions, but the Hôtel de Glace typically opens in mid-January.
Building the hotel takes a crew of up to 60, including 20 professional ice sculptors and 30 to 40 workers. The entire structure is free-standing except for one element: the ice chandelier in the great hall is too heavy to hang on its own, so it receives structural support. Crews use custom molds to build the rest of the hotel and remove them once the snow sets into place.
The hotel features a different theme each year. For 2024, the theme is “historic timeline.” Many of the designs and ice sculptures throughout the hotel reflect this theme, including in 22 of the 30 guest rooms. Designs feature the evolution of everything from cars, film, video games, music, fashion, and even humanity. Sculptors skillfully craft each creation from blocks of ice and into the snow in the walls. Many elements are accentuated by lighting, which is powered by 8 kilometres of wiring beneath and through the structure. This art is an integral part of what brings the ice hotel to life!
Does the ice hotel melt?
It does, but don’t worry—it won’t melt onto you! Quebec sustains cold enough temperatures to keep the ice from melting until mid-March. In 2024, Quebec’s ice hotel is taking reservations until March 17. Once the Hôtel de Glace closes for the season, it’s bulldozed and left to melt so that it can be rebuilt again from scratch the following year.
How do people stay warm inside the ice hotel?
Guests who stay overnight at the ice hotel sleep on a bed of ice, but they’re given plenty of help to stay warm. First, a real mattress tops each bed. Then, they borrow a sleeping bag rated for -15 to -30 degrees Celsius. These are so warm that some guests find they need to remove layers of clothing during the night.
You’ll also have access to fireplaces, hot tubs, and saunas during your stay, and deluxe rooms have private ones included. But if the weather becomes too cold to tolerate, every ice hotel booking comes with a room inside the resort next door. This way, you’ll have a a backup plan as well as a place to shower and store your belongings out of the cold.
What amenities are included in the Hôtel de Glace?
The Hôtel de Glace has a bar inside the Great Hall. The bar itself is sculpted entirely of ice, and you can order a drink served in a hollowed-out block of ice instead of a glass. The bar at the Hôtel de Glace can go through up to 200 ice glasses each day! There’s also a playroom with a built-in ice slide, and an on-site ice chapel hosts multiple weddings each year.
You might also wonder: Does the Hôtel de Glace have bathrooms? Yes, it does. You’ll find temporary bathrooms just outside the hotel walls. And yes, they are heated to make those middle-of-the-night potty runs a little more tolerable.
Can you visit the Hôtel de Glace without staying overnight?
If you’d like to see the Hôtel de Glace, you don’t need to stay overnight. Quebec’s ice hotel is open for self-guided tours between 10:00 AM and 8:00 PM daily with an admission fee. You can even enjoy a drink in a glass made of ice at the bar, which is open throughout the day. Its location at the Village Vacances Valcartier means you can combine a tour of the Hôtel de Glace with time at the resort’s snow tubing hills, indoor water park, spa, and restaurants. By selecting the activities that most interest you and your group, you can turn a trip to the ice hotel into a fantastic day trip from Quebec City!