In winter, Québec becomes a veritable winter wonderland; thick layers of snow coating the ground, clinging to trees and piling up on roofs. Frozen lakes that become skating rinks and a temporary home to wooden fishing huts. Children tubing down snowy hills. And a hotel built entirely of snow and ice is erected just outside Québec City.
When Jacques Desbois began La Piste Desbois – an ecotourism company designing interactive igloo villages – in the 1990s, he scarcely imagined that one day he would create the first hotel in North America that is made entirely of snow and ice. That is until he was struck by a jolt of inspiration after reading about the ice hotel in Sweden and decided to create his very own ice hotel in Québec. A truly genius idea.
Since 2001, Hôtel de Glace has been delighting locals, as well as tourists from around the world, who visit the hotel to explore its bars and rooms and chapel; admire snow and ice sculptures, sip iced cider and special cocktails served in glasses made of ice, sit on benches made entirely of ice and topped with a piece of fur, and warm yourself by a fire (yes, the Hôtel de Glace has a couple of enclosed fireplaces!).
Originally located at Montmorency Falls, the Hôtel de Glace is now located at Village Vacations Valcartier. While the previous locations have been more remote, the new agreement with Village Vacations Valcartier gives guests of the Hôtel de Glace easy access to heated bathrooms, as well as a private room should they decide they want a warmer bed in the middle of the night; activities like tubing, skiing, and swimming in the large indoor waterpark are also available for an extra fee.
You do not have to book a room to see the Hôtel de Glace, the hotel is open to the general public. If you’d like to explore the themed rooms and suites, we suggest visiting during the day as the rooms are closed to the general public after 8:00 pm. Families will get the most of their visit in the morning and early afternoon as that will give plenty of time to enjoy the tubing, skiing, and the waterpark at Valcartier as well. As for everyone else? We suggest visiting in the afternoon when you can take advantage of late afternoon light (for taking photos) and enjoy the Hôtel de Glace during the day, as well as the early evening when the hotel is lit and the bars are vibrating with music.
Fun Facts About Hôtel de Glace
Because everyone loves random facts about cool (pun intended) places, here are some fun facts about Québec’s Hôtel de Glace.
- Construction begins in early December and takes 50 people six weeks to complete.
- The thick snow walls act as insulation, this means that even when the outside temperature is -25ºC, the inside of the hotel is -3ºC to -5ºC. Not bad, right?!
- The complete surface area of the Hôtel de Glace is about 32,000 sq ft.
- If you’re staying at Hôtel de Glace, pee just before bed. It sounds a little TMI, but if you go to bed and have pee in the middle of the night and try to hold it in, you will get colder and once that happens it will be hard to convince your mind otherwise.
- Beds are made of thick ice, but they all have a wooden bedspring and a mattress on top. Plus everyone gets an arctic sleeping bag. Yay!
- Hôtel de Glace is the only hotel in North America that is made entirely of snow and ice. Wow.
How to Visit Hôtel de Glace
- Entrance fees: Daytime is $15.87 for Adults, $14.13 for 12-17 yrs, $8.05 for 5-11 yrs; Evening (after 8:00 pm) is $12.39 for Adults, $11.09 for 12-17 yrs, $6.31 for 5-11 yrs. Children under 5 yrs are free.
- Driving Yourself: Take Autoroute 573 North to rue de Montolieu (QC-371) and turn right. At Boulevard Valcartier, turn left. Follow to Village Vacations Valcartier.
- Take the Shuttle: Hôtel de Glace offers a shuttle service from Québec City. The cost for a round trip ticket is $29.95 for Adults and $19.95 for 11yrs and under. Important: shuttles are only available during the day as the last shuttle leaves Hôtel de Glace for Québec City at 2:40 pm. During Carnival de Québec a 6:00 pm shuttle is available for those wishing to return to Québec City in the early evening.
- If you’re visiting during the day and taking the shuttle, Hôtel de Glace offers a shuttle and visit combo price of $42.95 for Adults and $27.95 for 11 yrs and under.
- To reserve the shuttle call 418.664.0460, ext 295
- Québec City Travel Planner: Search through our handy travel planner for information on everything from driving routes, taking the train, when to visit, how to get around and more!
- Urban Guide Québec City guidebook: Discover the local food and culture of Québec City in this guidebook focused on promoting local artisans, producers and businesses. Explore popular neighbourhoods, or embrace the local side, both are represented in this guidebook on Québec City.
- Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer: Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Champlain’s Dream is a captivating read about the man who established the colony of New France, and considered to be the father of Québec. A tome worthy of any book collection.
- Québec: The Story of Three Sieges by Stephen Manning: Understanding some of the key battles in Québec’s history is one of the best ways to begin to understand the mentality of Québec, and the relationship between French and English. This book is one of the best in terms of the major battles that helped to shape Québec’s future.
- Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny: A local favourite, Louise Penny crafts a captivating murder mystery set in Québec City. Book six in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, you don’t need to read the first five to enjoy this story which will take you through some of our favourite places in Old Québec.
- An Essential Winter Packing List: Planning to visit Québec City during the winter months? Make sure you pack these items for a warm and fun trip!
- Winter Bucket List: 40+ Things to See & Do: The air may be crisp, and the ground may be covered in fluffy white snow, but there is still plenty to see and do in Québec City in winter!
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