Staying in one of the small hotels within or below the walls of Vieux-Québec (or at the iconic Château Frontenac) can be one of your trip's most memorable experiences. For the shrewd hotel connoisseur, you'll want to investigate the handful of luxurious boutique properties in the Lower Town that are sure to pass every utopian test. On the other end of the size spectrum, the string of skyscrapers just beyond La Porte St-Jean may lack some of the city's historical charm, but offer high-end facilities and some of the best views of the city.
Both Montréal and Québec City have familiar international hotel chains, as well as small B&Bs hosted by locals. In between are the boutique hotels, which combine high-end service with plush room accommodations and decor that ranges from Asian minimalist to country luxury. Unless otherwise noted, all rooms in the lodgings listed have private bathrooms -- en suite, as they say in Canada. Most of the accommodations listed here are completely nonsmoking.
Very Expensive C$300 and up
Inexpensive Under C$100
What You'll Really Pay -- The prices listed here are by no means written in stone, and should be used more as a guideline with comparing prices. Rates provided are typical of Québec City's busy seasons, that is, summer (June-Aug) and winter (around Christmastime to Carnaval), and can be significantly slashed when times are slow.
There are, it seems, more smaller, private B&Bs in and around Old Québec that you'd ever find in Montréal. Sometimes prices can seem high for what you get as demand can very simply inflate prices. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.
Getting the Best Deal
Most Québec hotels offer online specials and package deals that bundle rooms with meals or sightseeing activities. In many cases, this can result in rates significantly below what's quoted in this guide. Always check hotel websites before calling to make a reservation.
Because the region is so cold for so many months of the year, tourism here is cyclical. That means that prices drop -- often steeply -- for many properties much of the September-through-May period, with the exception of the Christmas holiday and winter carnival in February. While rooms are less expensive these times of year, some of the essential vibrancy and joie de vivre of the region goes into hibernation as well.
Note: Prices listed here are rack rates for a double-occupancy room in high season (which includes the warm months, Christmastime, and Carnaval), unless otherwise noted.
Most established hotels take credit card payments online or over the phone. Full payments are often required upfront. If you think there's a possibility you may need to cancel, do take note of refund policies and deadlines to do so.
Smaller properties typically have their own way of doing business. When calling to make arrangements at a B&B, be very clear about your needs and requirements; in some cases you may be speaking directly to the owner. A deposit is often required, as are minimum stays of 2 nights. Credit cards may not be accepted.
Vieux-Québec has about a dozen B&Bs. With rates mostly in the C$90-to-C$140 range, they don't represent substantial savings over the small hotels but do give you the opportunity to get to know some of the city dwellers. Many will post signs that say COMPLET, meaning full, or VACANT, which means that rooms are available. The Official Accommodation Guide put out by Québec City Tourism lists every member of the Greater Québec Area Tourism and Convention Bureau, from B&Bs to five-star hotels, with details about the number of rooms, the prices, and the facilities. It's available at tourist offices. There's also a handy search feature for B&Bs at www.quebecregion.com.
Québec's Ice Hotel: The Coldest Reception in Town -- Québec's Ice Hotel (tel. 877/505-0423; www.icehotel-canada.com), which is reincarnated each winter in a new design; it was formerly located a half-hour outside of Québec City, but as of 2011 they have moved to a spot just 10 minutes from downtown (9530 rue de la Faune). In 2010 they celebrated their 10th anniversary. For C$17 you can visit, but for C$259 per person (and up), you can have dinner and spend the night. Tempted?
The Hôtel de Glace is crafted each year from 500 tons of ice, and nearly everything is ice, from the ice chandelier in the 5.4m (18-ft.) vaulted main hall, to the thick-ice shot glasses in which vodka is served, to the pillars and arches and furniture. That includes the frozen slabs they call beds; and high-tech sleeping bags provide insulation (there's even a highly recommended how-to class on how to zip yourself up correctly).
Nighttime guests get their rooms at 9pm, after the last tour ends, and have to clear out by 9am, before the next day's arrivals. Rooms are vaguely grand and some are designed according to the yearly theme: One year there was a Chess Room featuring solid-ice chess pieces the size of small children at each corner of the bed. Other rooms bring the words "monastic" or "cell block" to mind.
Bear in mind that, except for in the hot tub (a good soak is also highly recommended to bring your body heat up), temperatures everywhere hover between 23° and 27°F (-5° and -3°C). Refrigerators are used not to keep sodas cold, but to keep them from freezing. And to whoever dreamed up the luxury suite with a real fireplace that somehow emits no heat: There is a special circle in hell for you.
The hotel has 36 rooms and suites, a wedding chapel (any Dr. Zhivago fans out there?), and a nightclub with DJ for guests to shake the chill from their booties. Open each January, it takes guests until late March -- after that, it's destroyed.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.