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Canada, Hotel Review, Weekend Getaways

The Night I Slept In An Ice Hotel

The night I slept in an ice hotel – it was a night to remember!

Some think I was nuts, but I have wanted to sleep in an ice hotel since the day I first heard of it.  Imagine, a hotel completely made of snow and ice, that melts away every spring and has to be rebuilt every winter.  I really didn’t know what to expect, I just knew that it was on my bucket list long before I even put my first bucket list together.  Basically, sleeping at the Montreal Ice Hotel was a fancy night in an igloo, and it  was unforgettable for so many reasons!

NYC Inspired rooms at the snow village

The creators of the Montreal Snow Village created a complex of snow and ice, complete with restaurant, chapel and bar, based on a New York City theme.  From the moment you enter the lobby, you are greeted with scenes from New York’s Central Park.  A tour of the hotel is a must as you walk through themed suites complete with ice carvings and coloured lights.  There are 10 rooms and 15 suites in the village with a total of 5 igloos to explore.  I don’t know about you, but waking up to King Kong in the morning would give me the chills.  Don’t even get me started on the Jaws inspired room!

The beds are made of solid ice, however a proper hotel mattress means your sleep should be a comfortable one.  The room temperature stays fairly constant at -5C (that’s a chilly 23F) regardless of the temperatures outside.  Even better, the hotel provides a sleeping bag rated to -30C (-22F) and a “warm night guarantee” option is available for those who decide a late night switch back to the InterContinental is in order!

ice hotel beds

The rooms are basic…there is only the bed (or beds), a thermal sleeping bag and a curtain for a door.  The rooms are lit with LED lights which do not generate heat but cast an interesting glow against the ice and snow.  I got a giggle out of the fire extinguishers and smoke detectors throughout the hotel…I guess you can rest assured your room won’t melt.  Not just yet anyway!

The village is made up of a series of igloos.  This includes the Pommery Restaurant, the ice bar, a chapel and a warm room.  There is a jacuzzi for those ready to brave the frosty Montreal air!  I skipped on the jacuzzi knowing that the Bota Bota spa was waiting for me the next day.

fine dining in the Snow Village

Even if you are not spending the night, you can tour the snow village and experience the atmosphere.  Have lunch or dinner at the Pommery Ice Restaurant.  The head chef from the InterContinental Montreal manages the kitchen and brings his attention to detail to the experience, featuring local flavours and produce in the menu.  The chairs and tables are made completely of ice with a faux fur blanket to sit on and wooden boards to separate your dish from the ice.

The restaurant was packed and there was a certain joie de vivre in the snow suit clad crowd.  This is not the restaurant for your finery – dressing warm is the key to success.  The kitchen tries to keep the dinner service moving along quickly.  It gets cold sitting on a block of ice.  I enjoyed an amazing 3 course dinner (who says you can’t enjoy fine dining sub zero!!!) and a cocktail that became a slushy in the colder temps.  Word of recommendation – warm your fork before you put it in your mouth – the metal gets cold quick.  And, if your hands get cold, warm them up over your entree – those cast iron pots hold a lot of heat!

dinner at the snow village

Of course, no night is complete without a nightclub and after dinner drinks.  This is a weekend getaway after all.  Before long, my party of 3 hit the Jäger bar for some icy cocktails and dancing.  We kept the bar going til 2:30 – thanks to DJ Pinkie Rox, aka Lola of Lola’s travels – for her dance tunes and keeping the party going!  We closed the bar down.

a night out in the snow village

So – what was it like to sleep in the ice hotel?  To tell the truth, I didn’t get a lot of sleep!  You see, each room comes with an air hole up the top.  It lets the moisture and heat from the sleeping guests escape.  Turns out, I stayed at the hotel on the night of a huge blizzard.  I hoped onto my bed to change into my pjs and sure enough, I was getting snowed on!  I got snow in my sleeping bag and everything got a little wet!  (Hint: this is not good for a warm night’s sleep!)  I tried to get tucked into my sleeping bag, but the snow kept coming – it is a strange sensation to have snow falling on your face in bed.  It was going to be a chilly night.  Next thing you know…people sandwich in Lola’s bed!

sleeping in an ice hotel

So, you may be wondering what happens if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Keep your boots and jacket handy as you will have to go outside.  Luckily, the bathrooms are heated.  In the middle of the night, I was still cold so I head over with a change of clothes.  It was so toasty in there – I have to admit, I hung out in the bathrooms for a few minutes.  By the time I came out, the blizzard still raging, I could hardly see my footprints back to the hotel!

Like dinner, there is no lingering in the hotel in the morning.  The wake up call comes early and you are invited to hot chocolate in the ice lobby before heading up to a continental breakfast in a heated room!  Decadent.  After thawing out, the guests who stayed the night were presented with a survivors certificate!

a night at the ice hotel Montreal

The night in the ice hotel was definitely a night to remember!  While I didn’t get much sleep, I danced the night away in the bar and had a truly unique experience!  Everyone in the Snow Village contributed to the fun, from the group celebrating a birthday in the bar to the amazing staff who injected so much energy into the night and of course, my bedroom sandwich friends.  Imagine – every thing was made out of snow and ice – that’s pretty cool – in both senses of the word!  Would I do it again – you betcha!

Related Links:

Old Montreal at night

Overnight packages to the Ice Hotel are through the snow village partnership with the InterContinental Montreal hotel.  Many thanks to the InterContinental Hotel Group for a discounted rate on my stay and the chance to experience one of my bucket list items.  Needless to say, all opinions are mine.

About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


28 thoughts on “The Night I Slept In An Ice Hotel

  1. This is awesome! I’m not sure if I’d be tough as you and Lauren, but I’d give it a shot. And might I add, your photos are BEAUTIFUL. I’ve yet to master the great night shot. You have, my dear.

    Posted by Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) | February 20, 2013, 10:45 am
    • Thanks Leah. I know you would be able to do it. It is quite the experience. Glad you like the night shots…I worked hard to master that skill before going to Prague – I knew there would be some amazing night work there that I didn’t want to miss. The hardest part was the cold…I need some better photography mitts!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 20, 2013, 10:57 am
  2. I haven’t had time to go visit the Montreal Snow village. You are brave though. I went to the Ice hotel near Quebec city a few years ago..on the record breaking low temp and I was crazy cold even with 10 layers of clothes! But now that you mention it, maybe I’ll see if I can visit the Montreal Snow Village. Movie theme rooms seems right up my alley 🙂

    Posted by Kim @ Tranquil Dreams | February 20, 2013, 11:01 am
    • It was pretty unique. The snow and ice also act as an amazing insulator. No matter how cold outside, the temperatures on the inside remain fairly constant. Of course, snow falling on your face may make for a slightly more chilly experience, but I think it was an exceptional snow storm and probably not a normal occurrence. The themed rooms were awesome. They were all so different. The workmanship is pretty amazing.

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 20, 2013, 11:01 pm
  3. I’m so glad you wrote about this. It’s always been a fascination of mine. Fun to visit but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to work there.

    Posted by Robin Lewis | February 20, 2013, 12:34 pm
  4. Awesome! that sounds like an amazing time.

    Posted by drawandshoot | February 20, 2013, 4:26 pm
  5. Great Post – you are BRAVE!!! I do not like being cold – nice place to visit but not stay. Have a Great One:)

    Posted by cravesadventure | February 20, 2013, 6:55 pm
    • I am finding the cold more and more difficult each winter yet somehow, this year has been the year of totally embracing the cold. I really didn’t find it too bad. It is just a matter of enough layers. They have loads of opportunities to tour the snow village and eat in the ice restaurant. An extra shot of Jager always helps.

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 20, 2013, 11:06 pm
  6. Even though I despise being cold, I HAVE to put this on my bucket list!! So cool.

    Posted by Annette | February 21, 2013, 12:09 am
  7. HAha, that’s an experience I’m never going to have downunder!! But a bit of cold sounds VERY appealing in the middle of an Aussie summer heatwave!!

    Posted by rednomadoz | February 21, 2013, 1:27 am
  8. It sounds like a fantastic experience, and you even got a certificate for it!

    Posted by megtraveling | February 21, 2013, 11:15 am
  9. The picture of you and Lola in bed together is priceless. Definitely looks like an unique experience.

    Posted by Traveling Ted (@travelingted) | February 21, 2013, 8:07 pm
  10. What an amazing thing to do! I love the snow and ice but am always freezing anyway so not sure I’d survive a night there – would have to wear everything I own!

    Posted by Lucy Dodsworth | February 22, 2013, 7:54 am
  11. I really enjoyed reading about the experience… thanks for sharing Anita 🙂

    Posted by Bashar A. | February 22, 2013, 11:37 am
  12. This is so fun! But, I am getting cold just from looking at your photos 🙂
    I’ve never been in Montreal… must visit it one day.

    Posted by memographer | February 26, 2013, 10:49 am
  13. I had no idea this existed. You are to be commended for seeing it through and got a certificate to prove it. Great photos and written account of your experience.

    Posted by travelerlynne | March 11, 2013, 11:05 pm


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