The iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac emblazons the Quebec City skyline with august and dignity. It is indeed many a traveler’s romantic fairy tale dream, and how could it not be with its Châteauesque architectural style and mythical presense? The main attraction for those making their way to Quebec City, the Frontenac not only adds immensely to the already historical richness of one of North America’s oldest cities but also to a travelers experience. So if you ever plan a vacation to Canada’s Quebec region, or find that your north eastern cruise embarks or disembarks in Quebec City, the Frontenac is a no-brainer must stay for various reasons.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
One of the first Canadian railway hotels to be constructed, Le Château Frontenac was opened to the public in 1893 and was designed to serve the well-to-do passengers of Canada’s expanding rail network. While the nostalgic and romantic era of stylish rail travel has passed, the Frontenac continues to attract over 300,000 tourists a year not only because of its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List but because of its ability to adapt to modern tastes. Its $75 million renovation in 2015 highlighted this dedication and has so far reaped some serious benefits.
They say first impressions are everything, and the Frontenac unquestionably delivers on all cylinders. Like your first time as a child walking into Disneyland, the Frontenac wows you with a bewildering wonderment. It taps into your lust for the romance of a former time and urges you to imagine a glory that perhaps once was. It stands as the icon of a historied town and beckons you with the utmost curiousity. Simply put, it is a magnificent structure.
But that intitial allure somewhat diminishes when you enter the Château’s lobby, as you’re quickly reminded that this is a very popular tourist attraction and serves the purpose of commercial interests first (which is not all bad!). Throngs of casually-dressed international tourists shuffle around a comparatively small lobby area and tour buses nearly jam-pack the Place d'Armes in front of the hotel. At one moment, you might think to yourself that this is substatially positive for the city in terms of tourist driven revenue. At another, you might might find yourself irritated by the tourists’ apparent disregard for an elegant pasttime in favor of only capturing the image of such a time. Regardless of what one might think, there is no doubt that the Frontenac is the focal point of activity in this city and is the reason thousands of people from different countries around the world come to visit.
When Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and the Château's owner, Ivanhoé Cambridge invested $75 million into renovations at the Frontenac, they aimed to make the interior of the storied hotel brighter and more inviting. Three-fifths of the 611 guestrooms were gutted while conference space was expanded, restaurants reimagined and the lobby illuminated and modernized. The effects were certainly felt as we entered and were received warmly by the bellman in the lobby. The architecture seemed pristine and largely untouched, save for the furniture, lighting and new paint jobs that successfully brought out the stunning woodwork of former times.
As we checked in, we had the option of changing our assigned king-size city view room and chose to be situated in a queen-sized room that would overlook the St. Lawrence River despite knowing that the size of the room would be smaller. Our thought was to favor the view over the size of our room. To our surprise and slight disappointment, the queen-sized room was very cramped, and the small windows looking out to the river did not do the view any justice. Because of this, the room was also very dark. So we decided to switch our room back to what we had originally booked, and we were very glad that we did.
We walked into our new accomodations and were astonished by the difference. As you can see in the video and photos, the king-size with a city view was very spacious and had double windows for that all-encompassing view of the Place d'Armes right below. The furnishings were very much in line with the overall Fairmont brand and lived up to it’s 4 to 5-star reputation. Overall, the room’s comfort level was excellent! A piece of information for our clients who book accommodations with us: Le Château Frontenac is one of our preferred hotels on account of our membership in the Ensemble Consortium, so if you decide to book this beatiful hotel, you will receive a complimentary upgraded room at time of check-in when available (that could mean a king-size room with a view!), buffet breakfast for two daily, $100 CAD food & beverage credit per room, per stay, complimentary WiFi and early check-in/late check-out.
One of the great things about the Frontenac is its location. It serves as the focal point to the walled city of Old Quebec and is only a few steps away from all of the quaint colonial style enclaves housing small local shops and delightful Quebecois restaurants. The unique boardwalk adjacent to the hotel is truly one of the more romantic destinations in the world. With the majestic Frontenac in the background and vast views of the St. Lawrence River, the boardwalk is a one of a kind experience.
To stay at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is to guarantee yourself an exceptional experience. The price point, particularly during peak season, is very high. But it is an exclusivity with which you need to experience at least once in your lifetime. Every city has its charm and its landmarks, but rarely do cities have landmarks that are as deeply ingrained into its cultural fabric as the Frontenac. It is for this reason that we highly recommend staying here.