If you follow my blog, you will know I typically opt for smaller, more intimate hotels. However, that does not mean I will always stay away from the well known international brands. But even in this case I would normally stir away from properties boasting hundreds of rooms.
That said, I happily make an exception of this rule when the hotel in question belongs to the prestigious Fairmont group. They simply know how to make huge places such as their iconic Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Macdonald in Edmonton or indeed Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec work. Which in great parts is certainly down to the quirks and personal touches the group manages to introduce in all of their locations.
Thus when I was planning a trip to Quebec there was really no question as where to stay in this beautiful Canadian city.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is not only an iconic building and likely one of the most photographed hotels in the world. The hotel is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec.
Just think about that – how often do you get the chance to sleep directly at a World Heritage Site?
Sitting prominently on top of the city’s upper town aka Old Quebec, overlooking the historic Petit-Champlain quarter and St. Lawrence River below, Chateau Frontenac clearly occupies a prime position with most of Quebec’s main attractions in close walking distance.
Chateau Frontenac takes its name from Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac who was a French soldier and governor of the colony of New France in the 17th century.
The hotel opened its doors back in 1893, than part of the Canadian Pacific Railway who developed the site as part of their strategy to attract more people (including international tourists) travelling along their extensive Canadian railway network.
The iconic building was designed by New York architect Bruce Price who very obviously took his inspiration from historic French chateaus, or more precisely from those of the Loire Valley. Chateau Frontenac thus became the first of the Canadian Railway’s luxury hotels built in this style, inspiring further chateau-style hotels throughout Canada.
That said, today’s Chateau Frontenac has undergone several extensions over time that has altered the original layout. This includes the central tower (added in the 1920s) along with some other wings added through time.
Inside, the public areas are beautifully styled and still feature many of the original elements like the beautifully panelled lobby.
There are over 600 hotel rooms and suites which according to the category offer slightly different styles.
Considering the typically limited time I normally spend in a hotel room (I first and foremost visit to explore the location not so much staying in my room), I booked into a standard Fairmont room. The look and feel of which was typical Fairmont style; feeling a bit on the older side but still elegantly furnished and relatively spacious (aside from a smallish bathroom).
If you want a more modern feel, the Deluxe, Signature and Gold rooms and suites are all redesigned to feature softer tones and a more modern look and feel.
As throughout most Fairmont Hotels, Chateau Frontenac too offers several dining options from more casual options to fine dining.
The gorgeous 1608 Wine & Cheese bar is a great spot to hit off the evening with an excellent glass of wine or one of their signature cocktails.
Bistro Le Sam is the more casual dining option – even though prices are pretty similar to the fine dining Champlain Restaurant. That said, food here is equally excellent and focused on regional produce.
Champlain Restaurant, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant features excellent regional dishes created by Chef Stéphane Modat who was awarded Chef of the year 2019 by the Lauriers de la gastronomie québécoise.
There are various options including a five-course menu. Not feeling too hungry (maybe because of the huge charcuterie board accompanying some drinks earlier?) I opted for a simpler a-la-carte choice.
Starting off with some absolutely delicious ricotta and truffle ravioli topped with pumpkin puree and Yukon gold potato mousse, followed by a caribou from Lapland and a crème brulée covered in dark chocolate, food was excellent throughout.
In the morning, breakfast is served at Place Dufferin, another lovely spot overlooking the large Dufferin Terrace.
If you want to eat in one of the hotel’s restaurants, keep in mind they are hugely popular both with hotel and external guests. Thus booking in advance is hugely advised.
The latest extension to the hotel, the Claude-Pratte Wing completed in 1993, is home to a large Spa, indoor pool and fitness centre.
I had a wonderful time at Chateau Frontenac and can only recommend it when visiting Quebec for its classic chic, great guest service and favourable location in proximity to many nearby attractions.