Quebec City has a reputation for creating fun out of winter. After all, this charming Canadian town is home to the Quebec Winter Carnival, a festival devoted solely to celebrating winter with outdoor activities, parades, events and more, and the Quebec City Ice Hotel and Valcartier Village Vacances, a water park that turns into a snow-filled adventure park in the winter months.
Quebec isn’t all about the snow, though. A popular local pastime is relaxing at Nordic spas. One of the top Nordic spas in the region is Siberia Station Spa, a picturesque spa located just outside downtown Quebec City.
Siberia Station Spa is based on thermotherapy. Popular in the Nordic countries, thermotherapy is the alternation between a hot station, cold station and a rest station. Siberia Station Spa has nine hot stations, which include six hot baths, a Finnish dry heat sauna, an infrared sauna and a eucalyptus steam bath, which is said to open the skin pores and clear the airways.
Guests start their spa experience with a visit to a hot station. Then, sufficiently warmed, they move on to one of three cold stations, which include two invigorating waterfalls and a station in the river.
After an bracing dip in the cold water, guests then move on to one of the spa’s numerous rest stations, including a yurt where guests relax in hammocks surrounding a fireplace, a dream lodge where images of beautiful scenery are displayed on flat screen TVs while guests rest, and other relaxing areas around the spa.
The Siberia Station Spa comes highly recommended, so my boyfriend Ben and I decide to make it part of our visit to Quebec City. I’ll admit that the concept sounds inviting, but the reality of donning a swimsuit and venturing out into the snow-filled landscape gives me pause. Yet the people in the pools look relaxed and serene that I gather my courage and venture out.
Slipping into the first hot pool, I immediately understand why the people here look so happy. Soaking in bubbling warmth in such a beautiful forest environment is indeed sublime.
Then it comes times for the cold water — a thought I dread. Ben goes first, plunging deep into the cold waters of the waterfall pool. He gasps at first, but then looks just fine as he walks into the infrared sauna. Taking a deep breath, I plunge quickly into the freezing waters beneath the waterfall. The shock takes my breath away, and I quickly get out.
Then something strange happens. First, I go numb with the shock of the cold. Then about 10 seconds later, my body begins to tingle. It is invigorating and refreshing. I follow Ben into the infrared sauna, where I lie down on the warm wooden benches and almost fall asleep.
As my body warms and relaxes, I want to experience the cycle again, so Ben and I repeat the stations many times.
The highlight of our visit is a couple’s massage. I get the Momentum Massage, which is said to be very soothing. Massage therapist Danielle used long broad massage strokes, a unique therapy that is deeply relaxing.
By the end of our visit to Siberia Station Spa, we feel tranquil and relaxed. Frankly, I don’t want to leave.
“Don’t worry, we’re open all year round,” the woman at the front desk says. “You’ll have to come see us again on your next visit.”
If You Go
Siberia Spa Station
$39 for a whole-day pass
Children allowed on Sunday mornings; $13.50