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Tips for Staying at an Ice Hotel

Find out what you need to know before staying overnight at an ice hotel.

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Staying at the Ice Hotel Quebec: In Depth | Pictures of the Ice Hotel Quebec

After staying overnight at the Ice Hotel Quebec, I compiled a list of the best tips for embarking on this arctic-like adventure.

The notion of staying at an ice hotel may seem like a romantic one, but the cold, hard facts are a bit different. The best advice is to be prepared, but read on for specifics.

1. Think about it.

Being cold for a few hours is not the end of the world, but paying hundreds of dollars and feeling miserable when you wake up may make you question if there wasn't something better to do with your money.

Think about whether you want to shell out all that money to stay overnight, or if a tour and cocktail won't satisfy your lust for an igloo experience. Most ice hotels do offer tours or a chance to just have a drink at the bar.

2. Think even harder about booking a second night in advance.

Having little idea what the experience of sleeping in an ice hotel would be like, I'm glad I didn't have a second night booked. Unless you are booking when the weather has warmed up considerably or if you have a package that includes a "backup" room indoors (as the Ice Hotel Quebec does) think long and hard about booking two nights.

3. Don't drink too much alcohol.

Photo © 2009 Scott McLean
Although drinking yourself to sleep may seem like a brilliant plan, too much alcohol will hamper a restful night's sleep at the ice hotel. Not only does alcohol facilitate heat loss, a full bladder in the middle of the night at the ice hotel is your worst enemy.

4. Talk to someone on the phone when booking your stay.

Talk to someone on the phone when booking your stay to arrange a package that specifically suits your needs. Some packages at the Ice Hotel Quebec for example include a "backup" room inside a neighbouring lodge for the less hardy. Others may want to plan a day of activities - or relaxation, such as a massage - ahead of time.

5. Follow the instructions to a tee on how to dress and stay warm at night.

You'll get information on what to bring and how to dress, both before, and at some point after, you arrive at the hotel. Follow the instructions you're given to a tee.

Key points include:
  • Don't overdress. Counter-intuitively, wearing more doesn't necessarily mean you'll be warmer. A few choice pieces are better than overdressing with the wrong things.
  • Don't wear cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and makes you cold. Wool, polyester, nylon are some of the recommended fabrics for overnighting at the Ice Hotel.
  • Breathe outside of the sleeping bag. Condensation from breathing will form inside your sleeping bag and create moisture and ice.
  • Go to bed warm and dry. Hitting the sauna before you bed down is the best way to get warm fast.
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