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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
- Montreal Bucket List: unique winter experiences you have to try
- Snow Village Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau
- 5 Survival Secrets for staying in an ice hotel
- Montreal has an Ice Hotel
- Ice Hotel in Quebec City
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.