Here’s the thing: Romance is eternal, but any single romance lasts for a season or so, and has to be re-built from scratch every year after that. Maybe that’s the secret metaphor of the world’s most romantic hotel.
The Hôtel de Glace, a fantastical wintertime vacation confection a half-hour’s drive from Québec City, QC, in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier—a 36-room, cathedral-ceilinged hotel built lock, stock and barrel entirely of ice—celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
For a decade, the hotel’s staff has answered roughly the same set of questions from astonished would-be guests:
Yes it’s real.
Ice furniture, too? Uh huh.
Yes, it’s chilly in here: gloves might be a good idea while clinking your cocktail glasses at the ice bar (you can doff them by the fireplaces), and coats and toques won’t be out of place in the public areas.
But come nighttime you’ll want to strip right down and slide into the warm bedding. True, the bed sits on blocks of ice, but you’ll never feel them through a sleeping bag over a thick fleece and foam mattress atop a wood deck. A cozier night’s sleep is hard to imagine. Picture the Inuit snoozing in their igloos. Bliss. The difference is, tomorrow you don’t have to get up and chase your breakfast across the tundra. Instead, a hot buffet awaits in the adjacent Auberge Duchesnay.
Dozens of couples have been married at the Hôtel de Glace in its 10 years. No word yet on whether the children conceived in there have a genetic immunity to the cold.
Inspired by an ice hotel in the tiny Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, Hôtel de Glace is unique in North America. See it before global warming bites in. (Or at least before April, when spring does.)
If you’re curious about the hotel and how it’s made, but don’t want to stay overnight, tours are offered through the website. The hotel also offers an “Icy and Urban Adventure” package combining a day at the hotel and a second day in Québec City.
For a civilized whiff of the ice-hotel experience—but closer to, you know, HBO and subway lines—try the Ice Bar on the terrace of Montréal, QC’s chi-chi Restaurant Garçon!, at 1112 Sherbrooke West (514-843-4000). It’s built by the Hôtel de Glace team.