Hotel De Glace, Quebec City, Canada
Written by Matthew from Must Do Canada
It’s the only one of its kind in North America and is popular with both those looking to spend the night and those looking to just tour it during the day. We opted to visit during the day just to get a taste of it and were very impressed by all the craftsmanship that goes into it. For example, 20 of the 44 rooms are themed. These themed rooms featuring artwork and decorations carved directly into the walls of the room, featuring everything from Canadian Wildlife and Indigenous designs to Aztec artwork and sea life.
There’s also hot tubs and saunas, and if you opt for the luxury themed room, you’ll even get your own private hot tub and sauna, allowing you to soothe your muscles while admiring the stars above. There’s even a frozen chapel for those wanting to tie the knot or renew their vows on ice. If you’d rather a warmer wedding, you can head to the main lobby and have a cocktail served in a frozen glass from a frozen bar. Talk about having a cold one.
For those who do wish to spend the night, your rate includes a regular room at the neighbouring resort. After all, you’ll need a place to store your belongings and take a hot shower. Some may even sneak their way to the real bedrooms at night if they find it too cold sleeping on a bed of ice. According to the staff, the people who get too cold at night are often the people who wear too much clothing. You don’t want to sweat when you’re covered by ice.
For us, visiting the Ice Hotel was a dream come true. Ever since we learned about this incredible place, we knew we had to visit one day. Plus, if you’re in the area, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter. So, whether you brave the night for that special story to tell or simply visit for a cold cocktail and to see a unique work of art with your own eyes, the Ice Hotel is one for the Canadian bucket list.
See more from Matthew at Must Do Canada
Stay At This Hotel & Other Things To Do Nearby
Lainio Snow Village, Finland
Written by Katalin from Our Life, Our Travel
Lainio Snow Village is one of the most famous snow castles in Finland. It is not as vast as the one in Kemi and it’s more remote but still worth checking it out. Every two years the castle hotel has a unique design, a couple of years ago all the design and statues were about The Game of Thrones Series.
The best way to reach it is by own car as public transportation is rather expensive and limited in Finland, and private tours are very costly as well. It is less than an hour’s drive away from Levi and Kittilä, and about 2 hours from Rovaniemi. We highly recommend visiting as a day trip from Rovaniemi. You can easily spend in Rovaniemi a couple of other days full of fantastic winter activities, such as northern lights hunt or snowshoeing, just to mention a few.
You can explore the place with kids as well, visit the ice bar, the chapel and check its hotel rooms and other decorations. We liked playing on the ice slide and walking in the differently illuminated snow-tunnels between the rooms. The whole place has a truly unique atmosphere.
As well as staying there, you can also purchase visitor tickets, so you are free to roam around and take photos of the place.
See more from Katalin at Our Life, Our Travel on Instagram.
See More Exciting Things To Do & See From Finland
Sorrisniva, Alta, Norway
Written by Marisa from This World Traveled
Every winter season in the small northern Norwegian town of Alta a new igloo hotel is carved from fresh ice and snow. This place is called Sorrisniva and is one of the most amazing experiences you can have! Due to the hotel’s location just out-of-town you will find everything you need within the premises. When you first arrive you will be greeted by the lovely staff inside their warm and cozy main lodge. This is where you will find the restaurant, restrooms, storage for your belongings and a place to relax by the warm fire.
Located just behind the main lodge is the igloo hotel which is rebuilt every season with a new theme. Since it is completely made of ice and snow you will need to leave all of your belongings inside the main lodge. There are 28 regular rooms and 2 honeymoon style suites that you can choose from. Inside the igloo hotel you will also find a small bar area and even a church for those who want to have their nuptials here!
The rooms within the ice hotel are fitted with a comfy mattress and layered with reindeer skins to provide extra warmth. You are also given two sleeping bags and are advised to wear plenty of warm layers for your overnight stay in the ice hotel. The temperature inside the igloo hotel remains at a constant -4 to -7°C (19-25°F) which can become quite cold after a while. You’ll most likely be spending your evening sipping hot tea by the fire inside the lodge or outside looking for the northern lights!
The city of Alta is also known as the northern lights capital of Norway and is one of the best destinations in the world to see the aurora borealis dance in the sky. During the day you can travel into town and visit the Northern Lights Cathedral or the Alta Museum. The Alta Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage rock art centre where they have rock carvings depicting the life of hunters and fisherman that are around 2000 to 62000 years old. You can also spend the day on a snowmobile safari or try your hand at mushing your own dog sled team!
Visiting and staying overnight at the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel was a unique and fun experience which I highly recommend!
Ice Village, Mount Tomamu, Hokkaido
Written by Tanja from Ryokou Girl
Most people think of Scandinavian countries when they think of ice hotels, but Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido turns into a breathtaking winter wonderland during the colder months. Aside from its world-class ski resorts, winter in Hokkaido sees the island transform as illuminations and Christmas markets light up the cities and Japan’s love of festivals can be seen in special events across the region.
In the heart of Hokkaido, Mount Tomamu provides the backdrop for the impressive ice village, built by luxury hotel operator Hoshino Resorts every winter. The hotel is available to stay overnight in between late December to the end of February, with exact dates dependent on the average temperature. The cost of stay includes the accommodation, access to the ice bar lounge, access to the outdoor baths filled with natural hot springs water, hot drinks, sleeping bags, pyjamas, and a hot bowl of miso soup in the morning.
Aside from the hotel, the village is open for day visitors who cannot afford the overnight stay and includes several fun and affordable experiences to try such as the ice afternoon tea served on ice tables and chairs in the forest, an ice sweet shop serving gelato, an ice bakery and café with a cosy fire pit to make hot fondue, and a free ice slide which is just as popular with adults as it is with kids.
The best time to visit the ice hotel in Hokkaido is February when thick snow is almost guaranteed, and most of the region’s best festivals take place. The most famous of these is the Sapporo Snow Festival, which sees giant ice sculptures take over the city and more than 2 million visitors come to town. Previous sculptures have included intricately carved castles, Star Wars scenes, and anime characters.
The Ice Bar, Stockholm, Sweden
Jenna from I Know The Pilot
The ‘ICEBAR’, located in Stockholm, Sweden, first opened in 2002 and is the world’s first permanent ice bar. When we say ‘ice bar’, we mean it literally – everything is carved from ice; the tables, the bar, the decorations and even the glasses (though, thankfully, the toilets are an exception).
Located in the centre of the city, the bar changes its design every year, with ‘ice artisans’ travelling from the famous ICEHOTEL in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi (200 km north of the Arctic Circle) to rebuild, fortify and decorate the Ice Bar with ice brought in from the arctic Torne River. Visitors are presented with a cape and gloves to keep warm in the -5°C (or 23°F) bar, and entry fee includes one drink in your own ice-glass and a 45-minute visit.
Children are also welcome, and are given a colorful drink (non-alcoholic, of course) to enjoy, and they can explore the various carvings and exhibits throughout the space. There are also a variety of other activities to enjoy, including ice-carving competitions, and visitors can opt for a drink-and-dinner package, with dinner served at normal temperatures in their restaurant next door.
We visited Sweden as part of a tour, and after spending the day sightseeing we came across the ICEBAR on a night out. It was a really fun experience, with plenty of photo opportunities, delicious drinks and a great crowd. Not too rowdy, I would definitely say the bar is great for all ages, and is a great way to experience a slice of Northern Sweden, without having to make the trek.
Don’t miss your chance to experience a genuine Arctic Winter Wonderland, any time of year! The ICEBAR is a fun, unique Swedish experience for tourists and locals alike.
Other Winter Activities Near Stockholm
Hotel of Ice, Transylvania, Romania
Written by Nellie from Wild Junket
Book your rental car through Rentalcars.com for the best budget price.
Tromso Ice Domes, Norway
Written by Allison from Eternal Arrival
There are ice hotels all over the world, but of course, one of the premiere winter destinations in the world — Norway — has its own spin on the beloved ice hotel! The Tromso Ice Domes are Northern Norway’s answer to the popular ice hotel phenomenon, and it’s possible to go there on an organized day trip in order to easily see the Ice Domes. And that’s what most people do, considering that staying the night in the ice hotel costs about $1,500 USD per couple — a bit out of most budgets!
Stay At The Tromso Ice Domes
The SnowCastle Of Kemi, Finland
Lapland is a perfect family friendly destination for chasing the winter Northern Lights, staying at the snow castle, snow hotel, going on a snow mobile safari, ice tubing or even meeting Santa.
Kemi, a town in Botnia Bay in lower Lapland, offers Lumilinna or The Snow Castle. It is the largest snow hotel in the world and boasts the largest snow restaurant in the world too. Each year a different theme is chosen and The Snow Castle is built from scratch, starting in November for entry between January and April. Because of this small window, the hotel is booked out often years in advance. This is also NOT a budget experience, it is a huge splurge for an experience you’re unlikely to be able to replicate anywhere else, purely because of its size & art decor (don’t forget to look up at the carved ceilings).
You can visit the Snow Castle either as a day tour or an overnight stay at their hotel. Book via Experience 365. The price for a family day ticket starts at €69 and there’s a huge amount to do. You can also book a cruise in the famous Sampo Ice Breaker Boat and have a journey over the frozen sea AND you can don a full wetsuit and get in the water.
The temperature inside the castle is constantly regulated at -5 degrees celsius regardless of the weather conditions outside. Aside from the ice hotel rooms, there’s also an ice bar and restaurant in the castle where you can order an alcoholic Finnish winter drink, Hot Chocolate Minttu, to keep you warm and cozy. You can even pay to spend the day at the spa and sauna, another uniquely Finnish experience.
One thing to note if you stay at the Ice Hotel is that there are no toilets inside the rooms. You must go outside the hotel to pee however at the end of your stay, you’re presented with a certificate of achievement which makes up for it.
Other Places To Stay In Kemi
Ice Hotel Kiruna, Sweden
Created every year from natural ice from the Torne River, the Ice Hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, north of the Arctic Circle, in Sweden’s Lapland. It was the first Ice Hotel to be constructed anywhere in the world and today it comprises the seasonal ice hotel and the world’s first all year round ice hotel too.
Due to its remote location you can fly directly there from London with Discover The World flights which take around 3.5 hours. Once you’ve arrived, you can even ask the hotel to collect you with a snow mobile. Alternatively you can change flights in Narvik (Norway) or Lulea (Sweden) or self-drive.
The Ice Hotel has over 80 family friendly rooms, is 30,00 square feet and uses around 4,000 tons of ice. It also includes an Absolut Vodka ice bar, an ice cinema, an ice chapel, ice family rooms & suites. If you’re feeling a bit swish, you can rent an art room which is a uniquely decorative, artist created room. The cheaper standard ‘cold rooms’ are still cool but they all look the same.
The icehotel 365 is the year-round ice hotel that’s kept below freezing constantly – even during summer months! There’s also Kaamos a warm hotel where winter attire is strictly not necessary. Typically, on a 3 day stay there, you would spend 1 night in the ice hotel and 2 nights in Kaamos. There is an haute-cuisine restaurant here where you can even have a go at making arctic sushi.
What is there to do in Kiruna? The obvious would be to spot the aurora borealis & go cross-country skiing but if you’re feeling artistic you can try ice sculpting however there are also a number of wildlife safaris where you can go out on a snow mobile into the tundra and spot moose & reindeer. Don’t forget to check in at the Old Homestead where there’s a roaring fire and sumptuous deserts.
Those not sleeping in the hotel can buy a day pass (children under 6 years are FREE if accompanied with an adult). The day pass allows access to see the rooms, drink in the bar and pay for the activities.
Other Activities In Lapland
If you’re looking for other kid friendly adventures, check out some of our other posts below. We’ve visited over fifty countries around the world, over four continents.