This Urban Heritage Resort offers guests a full slate of resort activities, fine dining and outstanding accommodations – right in the heart of Quebec City

Who wouldn’t want to live in a castle – where dreams come true – even if only for a few magical nights? “Le Château”, as it is affectionately referred to by staff and guests alike has dominated the Quebec City skyline since the first phase was built in 1893.

From the outset, Le Château Frontenac was famous for its luxurious accommodations. Of the original 170 rooms, 93 had fireplaces and in-suite bathrooms; luxury furnishings for the time. CPR President William Van Horne commissioned New York architect Bruce Price, who had also designed the railway’s Windsor Station in Montreal.

Five additions later, the hotel now has 618 luxurious rooms and spectacular suites, one of the most elegant Ballrooms this side of a Versailles, an indoor swimming pool, a fully equipped fitness centre, and above all – a staff and management team who consider themselves to be custodians of one of the world’s landmark hotel properties.

Le Château Frontenac has been the site of history-making events, from the Quebec Conference of the Allied Commanders-in-Chief Roosevelt, Churchill and King in ’43 and ’44 to the Shamrock Summit of Brian Mulroney and President Ronal Reagan.

When Sir Paul McCartney performed before hundreds of thousands of fans on The Plaines of Abraham – he and his modern day retinue stayed at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

Other star guests include Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg and Angelina Jolie. While this is all fine – it’s your holiday or getaway that counts to the staff that will great you and your family with the same warmth and courtesy that they extend to their more famous guests.

Passing through the gates to the interior courtyard, guests have the impression that they truly are entering a castle. That impression becomes a reality the moment you step into the grand lobby. Marble floors, soft plush carpets, beamed ceilings, chandeliers, and mahogany inlay paneling create an atmosphere of elegant serenity.

A hallway as wide as a city street joins the main lobby with the Le Saint-Laurent Bar & Lounge and the beautiful main dining room Le Champlain – both with magnificent views of the St-Lawrence River. The Shops of Le Château line one side of the ‘street’, where you can purchase everything from a souvenir sweater to an evening gown.

Arriving in the early evening – we opted to enjoy a casual meal in the Le St-Laurent. We selected a table adjacent to one of two large fireplaces, and close enough to hear the jazz musicians playing in the adjacent lounge. A delicious onion soup au gratin, fine wine by the glass and friendly service combined to create a memorable evening.

Executive Chef Jean Soulard joined Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in 1993, bringing his energetic and innovative cuisine to the hotel’s kitchens. Chef Soulard is supportive of regional and local producers, offering fresh produits du terroir to guests. He maintains a herb garden on the rooftop deck of Le Chateau, in addition to three beehives that produce all the honey for the hotel, with enough left over to sell in the gift shop.

On that same roof top deck, Le Château chickens produce fresh eggs for guests to enjoy.

Chef Soulard is a regular on Quebec City television and radio; and has published seven cookbooks, the most recent being “400 Years of Gastronomic History of Quebec City.” When not overseeing the preparation of the 3,000 meals served daily, Jean Soulard the runner is out on the Plains of Abraham as he trains for his next marathon or triathlon.

Le Champlain Restaurant is the hotel’s main restaurant and proudly maintains its legendary status and 4 Diamond rating. With views overlooking the St. Lawrence, Le Champlain is also a favourite of Quebec City residents for special family and business occasions.

Marketing Director Christopher Spear said during a tour; “We sell out our Christmas dinner every year – it’s become a family tradition for Quebec City families to gather here on Christmas Day.” We recommend that you make sure that a stay at Le Chateau includes at least one meal in Le Champlain, where dining is a gastronomic event. High Tea with all the trimmings is served in Le Champlain from June to October.

Le Café de la Terrace is on the same level as the Dufferin terrace and it once housed the hotel’s two curling sheets. It now is the sun-splashed restaurant for all day dining, starting with breakfast as a hearty buffet to set you up for a day of exploring. A la carte service is also available.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has been classified as an Urban Heritage Resort, in part because of the rich history of the structures, and also because of its unique location within the walled city of Quebec – the only walled city in North America. Guests have a wide variety of historic sites to visit, intimate restaurants to explore; plus unique galleries and boutiques. Historic Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is literally at front door.

Overlooking the St. Lawrence, the magnificent Dufferin Terrace is a centre of activity in winter and summer. The iconic toboggan slide is popular with guests of all ages, and an outdoor skating rink is accessible for hotel guests.

The boardwalk is managed by Parks Canada, and during a recent project to replace the decking, the workers discovered the remains of Château St. Louis – Samuel de Champlain’s first residence in Canada.

Archaeologists discovered over 10,000 artifacts, and there is now a museum located just below the decks of the Dufferin Terrace. So whether you’re attending a concert in the summer, a morning stroll or reliving your childhood on a toboggan, Dufferin Terrace is a focal point for any visit to Le Château Frontenac.

The Claude Pratte Wing was opened in 1993, and hotel management took this opportunity to construct a huge indoor pool, hot tub, fitness centre and outdoor terrace. A full range of Spa services are also offered, rounding out the resort amenities offered to guests of all ages.

The accommodations at Le Château are classic, elegant and consistent with the notion that you are indeed saying in a castle.

The rooms are spacious, and if it’s in your budget, consider staying in one of the outstanding suites which are named after their famous occupants, such as The Roosevelt Suite or The Princess Grace of Monaco Suite (my favourite) with a central entrance foyer opening to massive bedroom on one side; and an elegant living room to the right.

Both rooms feature marble fireplaces, corner turrets and enough space to hold a small reception – or family reunion.

Fairmont Gold is a luxury concept that provides a boutique hotel experience within the larger hotel. Four floors from 14 to 17 in the central tower have been completely renovated, and in addition to superior appointments, free high speed internet, two telephone lines and cordless phones; guests have a private lounge for breakfast and an honour bar cocktail service

There are just 46 rooms spread out over four floors, providing spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and Old Quebec. We visited several rooms, including the Princess Grace of Monaco suite on the 14th floor – and the folks at Fairmont are justifiably proud of the Fairmont Gold accommodations.

Like other Fairmont resorts, Château Frontenac has a very special canine ambassador named Santol, a MIRA trained dog who ‘works’ as an ambassador for the hotel and as a promotional fundraiser for MIRA – and he likes to be taken for walks by hotel guests.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac was awarded the Four Green Key Rating for showing leadership and commitment to protecting the environment. Chef Jean Soulard and his staff implemented environmental programs years ago and they continue to develop new ways to recycle, compost and distribute edible food.

The hotel is currently replacing the copper roof, and General Manager Robert Mercure contracted with local artists to create works of art for the hotel using parts of the copper roof.

There are a variety of packages available at Le Château Frontenac.

A very popular one is Christmas in November, with the hotel decorated for Christmas. The normal rates a reduced, making a getaway holiday accessible. However, any time is a good time for a weekend or midweek getaway to your own castle on the hill – Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. Bon Voyage!