It was a childhood dream of a little Canadian prairie girl to one day stay in the castle in Quebec City, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac where surely princesses hide away in the turrets high on the hill.
Recently rated one of the world’s 10 most iconic hotels by Condé Nast Traveler the postcard images of the magical building have always stayed with me. It would take four decades before this princess had her wish granted and Prince Charming and I walked through the doors of this grand hotel.
Widely accepted to be one of the most photographed hotels in the world, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac sits stoically within the walls of Old Quebec gazing out at the St. Lawrence River. We will admit it seems impossible to stop taking images of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
No matter the angle, the castle like architecture begs for just one more capture. On more than one occasion my open mouth gaping and gawking caused me to run into a similarly amazed tourist. After much apologizing on both sides (it is Canada after all), it was back to capturing the majesty of the fairy tale come true before my eyes.
History of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Opened in 1893, the Château Frontenac was one of a series of hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Promoting tourism, the CPR hoped to appeal to wealthy tourists with this Quebec castle and the similarly designed Banff Springs Hotel, as well as the emerald gem of Chateau Lake Louise.
Named after Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, who governed the colony named New France in the late 1600’s, the hotel stands near the national historic Citadel. The star shaped fortification, built by the British to protect Quebec City in the 1800’s, standing guard over what was then Canada’s main port.
In 1943, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac’s served as the meeting place of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt as they discussed strategies of World War II. The hotel also provided the backdrop for the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘I Confess’.
What is special about staying at Château Frontenac?
To be frank, the question might be what isn’t special about spending time in this five star world class hotel. The standard is exemplary service and every square inch of the hotel glistens under elegant lighting as if magic polishing elves swoop down at the site of a fingerprint.
Forty years in the waiting, the little girl in me was not disappointed. Although I did not see Rapunzel at any point during our stay nor was I offered a tiara. Maybe next time.
Located in the heart of Old Quebec
Located within the walls of Old Quebec, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is central to European style cobblestone streets lined with shops, galleries and restaurants. Sitting high on a hill, good walking shoes are recommended for exploring all the area has to offer.
For those who prefer less exercise the Old Quebec Funicular provides transport from the Dufferin Terrace of the hotel down to Petit Champlain district below. More impressive perhaps is that you can ride it back up. At the time of writing the cost was $2.25 for a one way trip.
Where should we eat?
The hotel offers a wide variety of dining options but I will admit the 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar shown above became a beacon for Prince Charming and myself. After full days of wandering hilly streets and city walls we collapsed in one of the coolest bars we have seen in our travels.
With windows looking out toward the St Lawrence River, we settled near the fireplace on a chilly Quebec evening and melted into chairs more comfortable than ours in our own home. They said no to our request to take them home as souvenirs. Go figure.
It will come as no surprise to you that in Château Frontenac the chefs prepare food as though royalty have arrived. Possibly they have. At any rate nothing but top marks for the food. For other dining options click here.
I just want to relax!
For those who would prefer less time exploring and more time rejuvenating, the health club and spa await at the Frontenac. There is also a shallow pool for the wee ones. Although it has been many moons since our children were little I can’t help but smile when I see one of those family friendly spots.
I spent many hours sitting at the edge of such pools and know what a bonus a wading pool can be in a hotel stay. I told Prince Charming he absolutely could not go in there.
Adventure at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac ?
As we continued our how-many-tourists-can-you-run-over-while-taking-photos-tour, we came across a structure that caused me to squeal with delight and had us planning a return trip in winter.
Can you guess what it is?
This snow slide has been in operation well over 100 years on the Dufferin Terrace at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. Over 250 meters (800 feet) long this is a toboggan ride not to be missed. I’m not a big fan of snow and ice but for some things this princess will make an exception!
Sweet surprise at Château Frontenac
At breakfast one morning, after being served my piping hot latte (the waiter remembered I liked lattes from the previous day), a little jar on our table caught my eye.
With my recent article on bee keeping and now keen interest on the matter, I practically tackled the waiter.
Waving the tiny jar maniacally toward him with my eyes popped wide as though hidden treasure was at hand I queried in a bit too loud a voice, ” You make your own honey?”
My smiling waiter, although I could guess a bit taken aback by my enthusiasm over the little golden container calmly replied, ” Oh yes we have hives in the garden on the fifth floor. You can go to have a look out the window but only the executive chef can go out to the hives.”
As fast as I could gulp the last of my delicious croissant, I grabbed Prince Charming from his newspaper and we were off to see the bees. Once arrived, with the kind guidance of staff, we looked out at the quiet little beekeeping production.
Not written in a brochure or jumping out from the website, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac was in the business of bees for high quality food for their guests and promoting the bee population, not because it was a marketing ploy. In fact had if I not spotted the name ‘Rooftop Honey’ on the jar I never would have known. Somehow that just made my stay all the more special.
How Much Does It Cost?
You may be thinking well that is all fabulous but I could never afford to stay in one of the world’s best hotels. As I was writing this review I decided to check the current room rates so no reader would have a heart attack upon seeing for themselves.
I randomly chose dates next month, one on a weekday and one on a weekend and had to blink to make sure I was seeing straight at the pleasant surprise. I recently booked the least expensive hotel room in a small Canadian prairie town. For $20 dollars more I could stay in the least expensive hotel room at Château Frontenac. You can try for yourself here. Apparently dreams really can come true and not just for princesses.
Do you have a long standing travel dream location?
To learn more about Fairmont Le Château Frontenac visit the website here
For those of you on Pinterest a souvenir to keep from our travels.
Disclaimer : We were guests of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac but as always all princess dreams and opinions are my own.