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SmileyKrn Feb 22nd, 2009 03:20 AM

Quebec: A Winter Trip Report (Ice Hotel)
We just returned from a mini 3 day vacation in Quebec City and its surroundings. So I am returning the favor for all of those who have taken the time to write about their trips.

I will begin with if you are thinking about going to Quebec in February then you must already know the weather. I am from upstate NY and did not find the weather drastically different, but it is winter nonetheless. And we did go for the weather. We spent a day tubing on the slopes, and another staying at the Ice Hotel. We unfortunately missed the Winter Carnival; but, perhaps by visiting Quebec in the middle of week, during February, we also encountered no crowds. Clothing tips: bring winter boots (lots of slush and ice on sidewalks) and a pair of winter ski pants (again snow on sidewalks).

Beginning with the highlight, the Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace). We had an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience staying overnight. The hotel is filled with artistic ice/snow sculptures. If you cannot handle staying overnight, it is a must see. For those who do not know, every year, they build this hotel outside of Quebec. The entire hotel, including the bar and furniture is made of ice.

For those staying overnight words of advice. BOOK A THEMATIC SUITE (for once in a lifetime experience, in my opinion, it is worth the extra cost). Secondly, ARRIVE LATER IN THE EVENING. You do not have access to your room, until 9pm (and did you really come to sleep 9 hours?!). We arrived at 7:30pm and attended the 8pm how to sleep briefing (GO TO THE HOW TO SLEEP ON ICE INFO SESSION). We saw the hotel for the first time, at night, after the info session, and were like kids in a candy store. Every time we turned a corner there was a new surprise. The novelty of the place had worn off of most who had arrived earlier in the day and saw the hotel in a tour.

TAKE THE TOUR THE NEXT DAY and discover the place on your own. And the discoveries never ended until well into the following day. Because we arrived late, we couldn't see the rooms until the next day. And the hotel is completely different during the day. Listen to their advice on sleeping (especially clothing) and USE THE SAUNA before going to bed. Other fodorites and such have commented on the bathrooms and sleeping (if you have questions, ask). In short, everything was clean, I slept for 5 1/2 hours straight and was not cold during the night.

The pavillion, which is open 24 hours, is heated and has showers and locker storage for overnight guests. One of the benefits of staying overnight, is that you can enter and leave as many times as you would like, and the hotel is less crowded at night. IF NOT STAYING OVERNIGHT, VISIT DURING THE DAY AND AT NIGHT, if possible. It really is two hotels. And for all of those of age, try either or both the maple flavored whiskey and maple flavored creme liquer (a nice Canadian twist).

We stayed at the Auberge Duchesnay the second night ( we did the 2 night package). The DINNER AT THE AUBERGE IS FANTASTIC and reasonable for a similar meal in Quebec. Their 4 course meals are around $30. Our meal was over 2 hours long, so save the meal for a different night than the Ice Hotel or schedule a meal at 5:30pm, no later. There are cheaper options within a 5 mile radius of the Hotel.

My complaint with the package was that we could not check into the Auberge until 4pm. We tried checking-in earlier, but they had no rooms open. So we were homeless for a while. The Ice Hotel is a 40 minute drive from Quebec City. There are few options in town. Many guests during the day did the dog sledding and raved about it. I will say after a night of the Ice Hotel, we wanted to keep things low key.

So in sum, stay at the Ice Hotel. It is unforgettable. The next commentary, Quebec...

SmileyKrn Feb 22nd, 2009 03:30 AM


On our first day in Quebec, we went tubing at the Valcartier Village Vacances. A must do for families! Even if you do not have children, like us, it will bring the child from within, out. They have over 40 slides, with different variations (try them all). And they rank the slides based on their 'difficulty.' The park is about a 30 minute ride from Old Quebec. The park has a website and you could google it for more info. The $9 lunch deal was delicious and a bargain for the amount of food and quality. I am taking my children here in the future.
In the evening, on the same day, we went to an outdoor spa. This was a perfect activity for after tubing. We went to Siberian Spa Station (about 20 minutes from the city and tubing park). It was very romantic, beautiful grounds and the hot/cold water treatments do wonders for your body. And if you go, visit the Yurts! Hammocks encircle a roaring fire. I believe on Sundays, families with children can visit the spa.

SmileyKrn Feb 22nd, 2009 03:48 AM

Unfortunately I am not the best to comment on the city. We were not in the mood to visit museums. So we strolled the Petit Champlain street and walked around the city. I can recommend our hotel. Let me rephrase, I highly recommend our hotel. We stayed at L'Hotel du Viuex Quebec. It is a 3 star hotel. The rooms were clean, it is safe and it is located on a street with the old architecture. It is about a 5-10 minute walk from the Chateau. They put a picnic basket outside your door for breakfast every morning. The cost was $110 CAD a night, for two double beds. Parking is close by, and enclosed. The hotel's restaurant, French Bistro like, is also a good option.
We did also visit the bar in the Chateau (we cannot afford a meal at the Chateau :). You can envision FDR having a drink at the bar. We had the food at the bar (very good). I hope to return to try the maple creme brulee. The bar is a little pricey, but you are also paying for ambience. The view of the St. Lawerence and roaring fireplaces.
Speaking of the St. Lawerence, we did do the ferry. Recommended. Neat to the see the boat crashed into the ice and to view the Chateau glowing at night.
That about sums up our trip. There are few changes we would make about our winter excursion to Quebec. It was short and sweet. When we return we want to tour the Chateau and try the desserts at Le Petit Chochon Dingue (the doors closed as we arrived - the desserts and sandwiches looked amazing). The cost was reasonable $4-8 CAD for sandwiches and desserts.
Thanks again for all of those who helped us plan our trip! I apologize for my spelling (I am learning a new language, and it has hindered my ability to spell anything).

LaurenKahn1 Feb 22nd, 2009 05:23 PM

Can you tell us how you slept on the ice beds? Are there conventional blankets or is there something else? What about heat in the rooms? It would melt the ice, right? How did you stay warm?

SmileyKrn Feb 24th, 2009 01:33 AM

Although the frame is made of ice, you actually sleep on a mattress with a wooden board beneath it. On top of the mattress is a blanket/animal fur to protect the mattress. You sleep in -20 sleeping bags provided (they are cleaned after every use and have a pillow as well). The rooms are not heated. Nothing is heated in the hotel (the lights do not even emit heat). You stay warm by dressing warm. No one at breakfast said they were cold. In fact, most were sweating in their sleeping bags. Your face, which you cannot put in the sleeping bag was the only part of your body that got cold. I am from upstate NY, so the weather was not unusual. The hotel is around 22 to 27 degrees farenheit (and no wind inside). Gloves, hat, winter pants and jacket worked well for us. The lodge is open 24 hours a day and is heated (only 100 feet away). I hope this helps. If you cannot tolerate any cold, staying overnight would most likely not be enjoyable. Otherwise it is an experience not to be missed. Keep in mind the bathrooms (which are heated, and 10 feet from the hotel's door) are communal. They were very clean, but some people may be put off by shared facilities. If you can slpurge, there is a suite with a private jacuzzi, sauna and fake fireplace. Amazing, but out of my budget. :)

sassy_cat Mar 8th, 2009 11:05 AM

Thanks for the report. Although I enjoyed reading about your experiences I don't think I'd want to actually sleep in the ice hotel. Just visiting sounds good though!

cd Apr 8th, 2009 08:39 AM

Thank you very much for the trip report. I've always wondered about the Ice Hotels. It's not for me but glad you enjoyed it and reported on it.

rampchic Nov 7th, 2009 08:41 AM

I am planning a Feb 2010 visit for 4 crazy gals with our last night at Hotel de Glace. Do you feel that it's feasible to fly home the day after the "icy night"? Also, does the hotel offer a transportation option? We are staying at the Auberge Saint Antoine for 3 nights just prior.

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