Hôtel de Glace. Photo by | Copyright: Creative Commons
Contributor: atimian (Editor)
Comprised of 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice, the Hôtel de Glace, Canada is a massive undertaking, yet each spring it completely disappears.
With only a four-month lifespan, the Ice Hotel takes a month and a half and 60 full-time workers to finish its rooms, but the result is a spectacular blend of chilly, natural architecture and ambient pastel light.
Altogether, the hotel features 85 bedrooms along with a club, art gallery, and even a chapel that usually hosts a handful of weddings.
Every inch of the hotel is created out of ice, including the furniture.
To make the rooms more livable, beds are covered with furs, blankets and sleeping bags tested to arctic temperatures.
The only areas of the hotel that are heated are a few outdoor bathrooms, along with a few outdoor hot tubs to add to the experience.
Considered an example of a pure ice structure, the hotel is not supported by anything except the icy walls, which can be as thick as four feet to insulate the hotel.
Although you might not get four-star service, the Hôtel de Glace is certainly a unique experience as it changes in layout and complexity every year.
Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Travel
When I was growing up, Quebec City was something of an also-ran compared to Montreal, its brasher, more idiosyncratic sibling and my hometown. My family would often drive the 150 miles up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, and as a kid I recall coming away a little underwhelmed. I
t seemed so dutiful and reserved next to the “sin city,” as Montreal was known. Sure, Quebec City could lay claim to a marginally more storied history—symbolized by the star-shaped Citadelle and the once bloody Plains of Abraham, where the British and French clashed over control of what would become Canada. But next to Montreal it lacked panache.
Notre-Dame de Quebec – Photograph by Susan Seubert
No more. These days the cities have reached a comfortable détente over which has the most to offer. They are simply different. Quebec City’s warren of cobblestone streets, hulking Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, and Upper and Lower Towns are backdrop to its francophone fashion shops, chansons echoing off centuries-old cut-stone buildings, and air heavy with thick Québécois accents—a combination that’s unique in all North America. The food has gone from pedestrian to a superbly traditional force of gustatory nature (many dishes draw on local ingredients).
Raclette – Photograph by Susan Seubert
When it turned 400 years old in 2008, Quebec City also seemed to turn a corner. Now it is a truly modern city with old bones. My advice: Learn a little French, try it out on the residents, and you’ll enter a world where the locals will help you unlock the keys to street-level Old France.