We caught the shuttle back to the Ice Hotel around 9 PM. Overnight guests are not allowed in their rooms until after 9 PM. Quebec was experiencing its first major snowstorm of the season. This made the place look even more magical. Inside the Ice Hotel, overnight guests were hanging out at the Pinnacle nightclub. The bartender in the nightclub was serving drinks in ice glasses. Traci and I used our voucher to pick up our complimentary bottle of sparkling apple cider. After tasting it, I realized the apple cider contained alcohol which I do not drink so the bartender gave me a fruit drink instead.
apple cider in a glass made of ice
giving ice carving a try
Around 10:30 PM, the staff set up a table in the Pinnacle nightclub and gave everyone a block of ice and carving tools. Everyone was encouraged to try to create an ice sculpture. It was a fun way to meet our fellow guests. People come from around the world to see and/or stay at the Ice Hotel.
At 11:15 PM, it was time for mandatory sleeping bag briefing at the Celsius Pavilion. During those 30 minutes, we learned how to get into the sleeping bag and were given other details about the facilities and check-out time. Everyone must be out of their room by 8:30 AM so that the daily guided tours can resume.
It was recommended that we take a dip in the hot tub or sit in the steam room before putting on our pajamas. This would raise our body temperature and the special lining of our sleeping bags would trap this heat inside. This sounded like a good idea but the only problem is that the hot tubs are located outdoors. Oh well, why worry about the cold? After all, we were there to spend a night in a hotel made of ice for goodness sake. Traci and I used the locker rooms in the Celsius Pavilion to change into our swimsuits. The front desk of the pavilion provided bathrobes, towels, and sandals ($3). I ended up buying a pair of sandals for Traci because she accidentally left the ones she brought from home at the Sheraton.
sleeping bag briefing
Covered by our bathrobes, we ran out into the snowstorm to the hot tubs. The water was a welcome relief to the shock of the wind and snow that hit my body when I took off my robe. The water felt like a nice, warm bath. Traci and I sat in there for about a half hour as we watched the snowflakes fly all around us. We knew the real challenge was going to be getting out of the tub soaking wet and running across the snow to get back to the locker rooms. Earlier in the day, I met some Canadians who recommended we rub snow on our bodies after getting out of the hot tub to cause our pores to close and trap the heat in. This sounded to me like a recipe for hypothermia. Therefore, I did not take their advice. Instead, Traci and I got out of the tub and made an agonizing run back to the warmth of the pavilion. Along the way, I got some snow trapped in my sandals. Burr!
snowstorm on the night of our stay
The time had arrived. We dried off, put on our pajamas, boots, hat, and jacket. We took the opportunity to use the restrooms inside the Celsius Pavilion since there are no restrooms inside the Ice Hotel. We headed back outside to get to the Ice Hotel. Traci had fallen asleep during the sleeping bag briefing earlier; therefore, I had to teach her how to get into her sleeping bag and how to store her clothes for the night. The bed is a covered mattress on a block of ice. The sleeping bag has a special lining that you put on before wiggling your way into the bag. At this point, you use the Velcro and draw strings to adjust the sleeping bag collar around your neck to trap your body heat. And finally, there is a zipper to finish enclosing yourself. After helping Traci into her bag, I took off my boots to start to get into my sleeping bag when I realized I left my dry socks in the locker at the Celsius Pavilion - Doh! Back outside through the snowstorm I went to retrieve my socks from the locker.
Our sleeping bags have been delivered
It was 2 AM before I eventually got myself settled into my sleeping bag for my night. There is a light switch built into the side of the bed, thus eliminating the need to walk across the room to turn off the lights. There was a candle burning on each of our ice nightstands. There are no doors on the rooms - just an animal hide curtain covering the entrance. A strange thing about the Ice Hotel is the very still silence. The snow absorbs the sound waves causing a level of silence I don't think I've ever witnessed before. continue...