Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is to Québec City what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, iconic and romantic. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company in 1893, its French Renaissance style is equal parts charm and sophistication. Perhaps that’s why it is the world’s most photographed hotel.
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel
The hotel stands tall within the walls of Old Québec, North America’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old Québec received the distinction for its built and historical heritage. Not only is it the most well-preserved and complete example of a fortified town north of Mexico, but it is also considered “the cradle of French civilization in North America.”
It’s located in what’s known as Upper Town and overlooks the St. Lawrence River, which inspired the theme of the hotel’s most recent interior remodel. If you want to feel as though you’re in Europe without having to leave the continent, I can think of no better place to stay.
Not only is Le Château Frontenac surrounded by history, it’s played a part in it as well. Operation Overlord aka the Normandy Invasion was planned by FDR and Winston Churchill within its pretty Rose Room. Alfred Hitchcock used it as a location for his film, I Confess. The hotel even boasts the ghost of Governor General of New France, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau. He died of illness in 1698 at Château St. Louis, where Fairmont Le Château Frontenac resides.
Booking a Room At Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
We’d spent the better part of a month staring at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac from our VRBO in Lévis. Even from a distance, it is enchanting. We decided to just tour it and enjoy a nice lunch at its Le Sam Bistro. After all, we were already staying in pretty nice accommodations and had spent quite a bit of time exploring Old Québec (including its bakeries – YUM!). Yet, the tour, as delightful as it was, left us wanting more. Besides, Chris was a bit obsessed with getting into the tower part of Chateau Frontenac. That area was not on the tour. Over a scrumptious lunch with an incredible view of the St. Lawrence River, we decided to invest in what the Fairmont brand calls a Gold Room. At Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Gold rooms are on the 14th floor and above. In other words, they are in the tower.
It was May 2nd. We booked our room for May 3rd. I share this detail, because the price we managed to get makes me think that either the dates were considered off-season, or that the hotel didn’t expect to book all of its rooms on that particular Tuesday. For a room with a King-sized bed and a view of the St. Lawrence River, we paid $540 for the room plus a $20 resident fee CAD (Canadian Dollars). At today’s exchange rate, that’s about $421 USD.
I checked and it appears that the same room goes for $999, plus the $20 resident fee CAD, or $795 USD. While I’m sure Québec City is warmer and lovelier in the summertime than it is at the beginning of May, the hotel and Old Québec are still quite charming in early Spring. Just bring layers and be prepared to brace yourself against fierce winds. “Oh that wind though,” became a catch phrase and running joke between Chris and I during our stay in the area.
Our Room At Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The room itself was a reasonable size. Its view, while limited, was gorgeous. Luxury touches could be found throughout. Our closet had robes, an umbrella; and, (most magical of all to Chris) a light that turned on and off automatically.
Our favorite parts of staying in a Gold room were the exclusive amenities and personal touches:
- Instead of the lobby, we checked in on the 14th floor. There was no wait and attentive service.
- The concierge booked our dinner reservations for Le Sam for us.
- We had access to a 14th floor lounge where complimentary canapés were served around happy hour time. A server asked if we’d like wings, or ham and brie sandwiches. Otherwise we could plate up snacks from a nice charcuterie display. We also had the option of ordering cocktails, beer, or wine (for a charge). In the morning, breakfast was served in the lounge. We were able to enjoy made-to-order cappuccinos. A breakfast spread that included granola, yogurt, various fruits, croissants and assorted pastries was available to pick and choose from. Warm breakfast items could be requested.
- When we went to Le Sam Bistro for dinner, we were greeted as Mr. and Mrs. Peterson by all who assisted us. In a way, it reminded me of being at a dinner party with a host intent on going out of their way to make us feel welcome.
- There was a turn down service that involved chocolates and slippers. I had never experienced anything quite like it before.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac's Restaurants
- Le Sam Bistro has ambiance and class without pretension. While there is a burger and club sandwich on the menu (both of which Chris had), there are also more inventive items on it like the Chèvre and Spinach Puff Pie served over roasted vegetables. I found it to be the most inspiring meal that I’ve eaten so far this year. You know how foodies talk about that one meal that changed everything for them? This might have been that meal for me. Le Sam’s craft cocktails are both imaginative and well-balanced. I tried the Madame Marie (gin, rosé, sparkling rosé, basil-scented grapefruit syrup, dune pepper, campari, and absinthe). Chris had their Rum Runner. They were both so smooth.
- 1608 Bar is the place to unwind with an after dinner cocktail. Its aesthetics are darker, richer, and more hushed than Le Sam. We each partook in one of our favorites – a Knob Creek 9-Year Bourbon Old Fashioned.
- Place Dufferin is primarily a breakfast spot, though they also do afternoon teas on Saturdays. Since we had breakfast in the lounge, we did not have enough of an appetite to give it a try. Given how marvelous everything else at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is, I’m sure it’s delicious.
- Champlain Restaurant is the finest dining option available within the hotel and appears to be an exquisite experience. It was not open during our stay in the hotel, so we were unable to give it a try. Their hours, as I write this, are Wednesday to Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Now That Our Stay is Done
In the end, would we do it again? Yes. The service, personal touch, attention to detail, amenities, and warmth all made our stay worth the expense. We had a relaxing and romantic stay and could not have possibly asked for more. You can see more of the details by checking out our We Try The World’s Most Photographed Hotel! video.