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Our new monthly series from TPG Contributor Lori Zaino, “World’s Most Unusual Hotels,” features some of the world’s craziest, most original hotels around the world, perfect for adventurous travelers who are ready for a little something different. (Except where noted, all photos are courtesy of the hotel.)
Ice hotels are a hot trend in cold, Nordic spots like Sweden, Finland and Denmark. However, North America has only one ice hotel of its own, which is set in snowy Canada — the Hôtel de Glace.
Literally dripping in icy-cold luxury, the Hôtel de Glace is located just 10 minutes from downtown Québec City. All of its 44 rooms and suites have queen beds, and some are themed — such as the jazz or hockey suites — and/or have gas fireplaces. For a truly exceptional experience, try a premium deluxe theme suite equipped with both a fireplace and private sauna.
Whereas the hotel furniture is entirely made of ice and snow (beds included), the hotel prides itself on creating a comfortable sleeping experience. The beds are made from blocks of ice, with a solid wood base and a soft, comfy mattress laid with sheets, a pillow and a cozy faux-fur throw. Thermal sleeping bags are also provided for those nights when temps get especially low (e.g., 25 degrees below zero isn’t unheard of here).
From 9am-9pm daily, all overnight guests have access to a nordic relaxation area with outdoor spas and a sauna; the hotel staff suggests you visit this area before heading to your ice bed in order to warm up your body. If you’re concerned about the freezing cold temps, know that each overnight visit starts off in the cozy Celsius Pavilion (with tea, coffee and hot chocolate provided) with an information session about how to remain comfortable during your stay. Additionally, the hotel provides a list of recommended items to pack.
Of course, you can always heat up with a cocktail in the ice bar or chow down on some warm dishes in the ice cafe if need be. There’s even a chapel, giving a whole new meaning to “winter wedding.”
Most Hôtel de Glace room reservations also come with a room at the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec, where you can leave your luggage and take a hot shower. It’s just a two-minute snowy walk from the Hôtel de Glace to the visitor’s center next door at the Four Points.
If staying overnight at the ice hotel just seems too daunting, you can simply take a day or evening tour, starting at about $14 per person. There are several different tour packages, most including an ice cider cocktail at the hotel’s ice bar, and one Behind the Scenes tour that allows you to visit the hotel construction team’s ice workshop and make your very own ice glass.
Season: Hôtel de Glace is only available for reservations a few months out of the year — this season, opening dates are from January 4-March 28, 2016.
Rates: Room rates and packages start around $300 per night, including your room at the Four Points by Sheraton Quebec.
Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) is just a 20-minute drive from the Hôtel de Glace. The Montreal Airport (YUL) is a three-hour drive from the hotel.
Star Alliance: You can transfer Amex Membership Reward points to Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent-flyer program. Aeroplan allows you to redeem 15,000 miles for roundtrip short-haul flights. For example, New York-Quebec would be considered a short-haul journey. For more information, you can check Aeroplan’s flight reward chart.
Oneworld: Great for short-haul flights to Canada, British Airways allows you to book flights of up to 650 miles (New York-Quebec is slightly less than that) for just 4,500 Avios each way, and the airline doesn’t add last-minute booking fees (note that these awards will increase to 7,500 points on February 2, 2016). For more information, check out our post on Avios distance-based awards.
Skyteam: Delta will get you from Chicago (ORD) or New York (JFK) to YQB for a minimum of 25,000 Skymiles roundtrip.
Helpful Hint About Credit Cards
Cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Prestige don’t charge foreign transaction fees, making them ideal to use on vacations in foreign countries like Canada. To see more cards without these fees, check out our post, Top Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees.
Would you ever brave the freezing cold temps and stay at an ice hotel? Share your comments or experiences below. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.