Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth
After two wonderful nights at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal, Cruises & Beyond moved just a few blocks down to the recently renovated Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. In 2017, the Queen Elizabeth underwent a multi-million dollar grand transformation that included a major update to all of its 950 guest rooms, an expansion of its "Fairmont Gold" collection and re-imagining of its lobby and business hub areas located on the first three floors. Needless to say, our expectations were very high for this very well-known brand and hotel.
Coming from the Omni, a few things already stood out as obvious differences. Firstly, as you approach the Queen Elizabeth, you'll at once be taken by the size of its structure. While not a very tall building (as with most buildings in Montreal), the Queen Elizabeth extends over a large footprint as it appears to occupy an entire city block. The exterior of the building is rather drab in its appearance, owing to its international modernist inspiration. The dry exterior is contrasted heavily by the sensation as you enter the lobby - a crowd of business people and leisure guests checking in and attending business functions in the chic environs of a spacious lobby create a completely contrasting ambiance to that of the Omni. Where the Omni manifests quaint tranquility, the Queen Elizabeth's vibrant, almost cruise-like atmosphere permeates an impressive corporate machine.
Despite the distinct change in atmosphere, the Queen Elizabeth exudes sophistication in all aspects. The design of the lobby speaks to the desires of a modern architectural demand, and the addition of Kréma Cafe, the re-imagining and modernization of its restaurants, and the inclusion of a spacious artisan marketplace make it a haven for sophisticated travelers of numerous tastes. The public areas are highly engaging, from the moment you check in to the basement floor ground light installment that connects patrons to Montreal's underground mall.
The standard king-size deluxe rooms with a view at the Queen Elizabeth leave a bit to be desired. Considerably smaller than the Omni, the rooms somewhat belie the price that one would pay for. The bathroom is cramped and the sheets on the bed were on the musty side. Nonetheless, the amenities provided by the Fairmont, especially the Nespresso coffee maker, were a definite plus. Moreover, the views of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral right outside our window looked to be something out of a fairy-tale.
All-in-all, though the Fairmont in Montreal is equipped with some fine eating establishments and added customer experiences on account of its massive renovations, it ultimately misses the mark on what a 4-star hotel should aim to prioritize. Our humble fear as hotel-goers is that large hotel conglomerates lose focus on providing excellent in-room service and accommodations while instead opting to create more additional spending experiences. Just like the mid-market cruise lines, one might see what they originally pay for lose more and more value. We only hope that this doesn't become the prevailing trend.