Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is more than a luxury hotel, it’s the most iconic landmark in Quebec and an important part of it’s history. The turreted château towers over Quebec city and the St Lawrence River with the grandeur of a fairytale castle on the outside, while keeping a lot of it’s original character on the inside; dark hand-carved wood accents, gold, brass and royal blue colour schemes. Since being built by the Canadian Pacific Railway back in 1893, along with Banff and Lake Louise, it became a significant tourist destination and has retained the grandeur of this time to this day.
The wooden Terasse Dufferin runs along the side of the hotel, overlooking the river, lined with gardens and remains of the Saint Louis Fort. In the winter this area is taken over by the Quebec Winter Carnival where the slides are transformed into a popular toboggan run, which is such a fun activity that it’s every bit worth the 30-minute queue in minus temperatures.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac’s location couldn’t be better, located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Quebec, this is North America’s only walled city and World Heritage site. The boutique-filled Quartier Petit-Champlain is located just underneath the hotel and can be walked to in ten minutes or a funicular just outside the hotel links the upper and lower towns. Other key sights around the city can easily be reached on foot from the hotel such as the Citadel and the city’s museums.
Following a grand refurbishment in 2014, the decor of the 611 rooms at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has been modernised while maintaining the classic and regal aesthetics of it’s past. Rooms vary widely from classic to modern and all the way up to the Gold Level Rooms on the 14th to 18th floors which have great views and access to the executive lounge. Amenities include a choice of pillows, Keurig coffee makers and kettles. While an extra special touch comes in the form of toiletries that are personalised with the names of guests.
Being so iconic within Quebec, both the restaurants and the bar at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac are extremely popular, making getting a table for food or drinks often quite difficult. If you are a guest at the hotel you have no priority over people just walking in, which was a big downside to our stay as we often just couldn’t find anywhere to sit and relax at the end of the day.
The dark-wood 1608 Wine Bar serves creative cocktails in a cosy setting, looking out to the St Lawrence and complete with open fireplaces. This is where we came to warm up after a day of walking around in the snow.
Le Sam Bistro is a more casual-chic option that is part restaurant, part lounge. It is designed in art deco style with seating in the conservatory offering panoramic views over the St. Lawrence River. The menu has a great selection of vegan options including the delicious ginger and roasted cashew tempeh.
Le Champlain is the more formal restaurant, spread over various rooms. The menu uses locally-sourced products to create a typically Québêquoise menu, while the expansive floor-to-ceiling wine fridges keep an extensive list of wines ready to be tasted.
Breakfast is served in the Dufferin restaurant, but with a long queue to get a table in the mornings plus a hefty price tag to go with it, we chose instead to get a warming porridge (oatmeal in Canada) in the Starbucks located in the lower level of the hotel.
The Moments Spa didn’t live up to what I would have expected for a 5-star hotel. The facilities, the service and the treatments are lacking and even the space feels as though it’s just been tucked away as an after thought. There is no relaxing pool to lounge next to, being more filled with children and floats, which is something that we had expected after experiences in other similar Fairmont hotels.
With Fairmont Le Château Frontenac being so iconic in Quebec, a stay here really completes the experience. The location is perfect for exploring the best of the city and who doesn’t love waking up in a turreted castle with expansive views of the picture perfect city.