Adventurous travelers have a few days left to experience Montreal’s Ice Hotel, part of the Snow Village winter celebration. I visited during the cold month of January and had a blast. I got the full experience, I spent the night in the Ice Hotel, I had dinner in the Pommery Ice Restaurant and even had a drink at the Ice Bar. It really was a fun adventure and I recommend a visit, if not this year, then when it returns next year. Montreal is a cool and interesting city to visit, especially during the winter.
How it works
Rooms at the Ice Hotel can be booked through the InterContinental Montreal, who offer packages which include nights in the Ice Hotel and the regular hotel. The packages include meals and transfers, so it makes the whole visit a seamless experience. Rooms can be booked directly with Snow Village as well.
Guests, who were a mix of couples and families with kids, arrive at Snow Village in the early evening for a briefing session. We were then issued with our sleeping bags, which are made for the army to be used in conditions much colder than what we would experience. We were shown the lounge, a warm structure open 24 hours, with food and drinks, should we get cold. We were also shown the outdoor jacuzzi tub, with amazing views of the Montreal skyline. It was just getting from the little changing room to the tub, in freezing, snowy weather, that was a problem. I did not attempt it, but others did. Most of the guests then dropped of their stuff, and retired to the bar for some late-night fun.
The whole Snow Village structure is a like a series of connected igloos, made completely from snow. There are two large lobbies, then the large bar and restaurant on one side. The other side has the actual rooms, which are like smaller igloos, connected by long hallways. There is no electricity, but there is LED lighting in the rooms, which creates cool colored glows. There are beds carved from ice, with air mattresses.
Was I cold?
Yes, I was, but only until it was time to sleep. The sleeping bag, made to military standards for use in the arctic, kept me very warm. Like a mummy, the sleeping bag covered me, leaving only my face exposed. The temperature was about 30 degrees. Sleeping in the cold air was invigorating and once I fell asleep, I slept through the night. When not in the sleeping bag, I was in full winter gear, boots, wool socks, long, thermal underwear, snow pants, ski jacket, gloves, scarf and hat.
The Ice Hotel is partnered with the InterContinental Montreal and they run the Pommery Ice Restaurant. The hotel’s executive chef Matthieu Saunier is also in charge of the Ice Restaurant and that too is a fun experience. The restaurant is a giant igloo, and you sit on ice benches at ice tables. There are furs on the benches to keep you warm. The food was delicious and is offered via a fixed price menu for lunch ($25) or dinner ($69). For dinner, I had the stewed Cornish hen, served with coq au vin sauce and it was a welcome sight, brought steaming to the ice table as I sat there shivering. They even had heated wine holders to keep the wine from freezing on the table.
Montreal is served by many international carriers. Air Canada has frequent flights from major US gateways. I flew on US Airways from LAX and returned on WestJet flights operated by American Airlines. American citizens do not need a visa for travel to Canada.
The Ice Hotel and Snow Village will be open until Sunday, March 17.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. In the past six months, he has visited Turkey, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia and Canada and Peru. You can follow him on Twitter @thefredsherman
More From This Contributor:
Eiffel Tower Tips for Paris Visitors
A Shopping Trip to Istanbul, Turkey
American Airlines Offers Baggage Delivery Service