The magnificent urban resort recently underwent a $75 million renovation. The challenge was to meet the expectations of 21st century world travellers and to retain the historical grandeur of this UNESCO World-Heritage Site

Château Frontenac

The main lobby with its river blue ceiling and
original wood panelling

It took eighteen months, $75 million and the combined efforts of two internationally respected design teams to conceive and implement the massive project to renovate and re-invigorate one of Canada’s architectural landmarks – Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. As a historic urban heritage resort, the challenge was to transform the already elegant rooms, suites, dining rooms, bars and common areas to meet the sophisticated expectations of 21st century guests. We recently visited Quebec City’s “castle” for the first time since the renovations were completed in late 2014. The designers took much of their inspiration from the mighty St. Lawrence River because of its past and current role as a highway for economic development for the city, the province and Canada.

Château Frontenac

A luxuriously renovated Fairmont Gold room

Le Château has retained its elegance, beginning with the historic wood-panelled lobby. In keeping with the river theme, the lobby ceiling has been painted a ‘deep river blue’, which complements the rich wood paneling, marble floors and plush area carpets. A huge backlit sheet of blue onyx provides a unique backdrop to the front desk check-in area. This main lobby is also the home of Daphne, a Labranese Mira dog who is on hand to give her own special welcome. The boutiques and art gallery were moved from the lower level up to main lobby floor.

Le Château Frontenac

Fairmont Gold offers a
private lounge, breakfast buffet and other amenities

Christopher Spear, the hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing explained the extent of the renovations; “We completely renovated 350 of our 611 rooms, including the complete rebuilding of the bathrooms and installing state-of-the-art glass walled showers. For guests who prefer the traditional decor, we have maintained 250 rooms in that style. We maintained the classical elegance in the renovated rooms, and installed contemporary furniture. Since the hotel was constructed in stages over nearly 100 years, most of the rooms are unique. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we have close to 611 unique rooms here at Le Chateau. There is so much history in this building that we offer guided tours.”

Château Frontenac


Fairmont Gold: The popular Fairmont Gold floors offer guests a boutique hotel-within-a-hotel environment; much like a private club. There are sixty rooms on the 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th floors of the hotel’s central tower. Guests have a private check-in and check-out service, a private lounge with electric fireplaces, a complimentary hot buffet breakfast, morning newspapers, tea and coffee during the day, and an honour bar service from 5-7pm. Concierge service is available from 7am to 10 pm. It’s a very agreeable way to start off your day in Quebec City, with views of the St-Lawrence, Lower Town and the harbour. Cruise ships are added to the view from May to October.

“Other major changes included the main bar, the dining room and the bistro;” Christopher noted during our tour. The old Bar St-Laurent is now Bar 1608, commemorating the year that Champlain founded Quebec City.  The decor is reminiscent of the railways, and the banquettes are in the style of the elegant Canadian Pacific sleeper cars, reflecting the era when CP Rail built a chain of hotels across Canada.” Twenty wines are offered by the glass, and local artisanal cheese makers supply the cheeses for the bar patrons.

Château Frontenac

Le SAM is a lively bar and restaurant open for
lunch and dinner

“Our bar staff are trained mixologists, and they’re like rock stars – each with their own following. We’ve re-launched the cocktail culture in our main bars.” Bistro Le SAM, adjacent to 1608 is completely new, with another popular bar, lounge seating and a more private dining area with huge windows overlooking the river. The varied menu notes which items are traditional to Le Chateau, and newer menu options are also noted. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional delicious onion soup on a blustery winter day – or a delicious Osso Bucco; you’ll find the food and service impeccable. It’s evident that 1608 and Bar Le SAM are a hit with the local citizens as well as the guests; as both rooms were packed on weeknights during our mid-December stay. No doubt – it’s the place to be!

Château Frontenac

Exceptional cuisine at Champlain makes
a memorable evening

Champlain Restaurant: Completely redone, Champlain continues to be the go-to destination of fine dining in Quebec City. A massive floor-to-ceiling wine cellar has been incorporated into the decor, which also includes a dramatic sculpture suspended from the ceiling that represents the varying depths of the St. Lawrence. Several historic features were incorporated into the renovations, including the family crests of Quebec City’s thirty founding families.

We opted for the five-course Modat Experience gourmet dinner. To be even more adventurous we chose the “blind menu” – so every course and wine pairing was a surprise – albeit a delicious one. We had superb service to complement our gastronomic treat – and it’s apparent that the restaurant staff has as much fun as the diners who opt for the blind menu. Each serving was proudly presented with an explanation of the ingredients and preparation. In addition to our main course, our adventure included a delicate crab cake, pate du foie, a zesty salad and we topped ourselves off with a delicious dessert. Portions are “tasting” sized; so don’t worry about over-eating. The main menu offers a wide variety of beef, lamb, duck and fish dishes; plus a vegetarian meal.

Château Frontenac

Director of Restaurants Jean-Philippe Coté and server Maxime Lachance in Champlain

Chef Stéphane Modat uses local farms and growers whenever possible, and along with Culinary Director Baptiste Peupion, the two chefs combine their love of haute-cuisine and fine wine to create a memorable dining experience. Chef Modat has formal training in molecular cuisine, which involves deconstructing the food items to match flavours that are naturally pleasing to our taste buds. However he does it – the results are simply delicious. An evening at Champlain will be a special part of any holiday memory.   Champlain is also open for Sunday Brunch.

In addition to working with local farmers and artisanal producers, the chefs maintain their own rooftop bee hives (in addition to herb gardens). The “castle” bees produce enough honey to supply the needs of the hotel kitchens – with enough left over to sell to guests. In the spring of 2015, Fairmont hotels in Canada have combined forces with Burt’s Bees to provide pollinator bee hotels to help bees rebuild their declining population.

In keeping with its resort status, Le Château has a large indoor saltwater pool, a fully equipped fitness centre and a spa. We enjoyed a refreshing swim after full day of sightseeing – a great way to unwind. The “Spa de Château” has five treatment rooms, all set up for couples, plus an additional four person room – ideal for a girls’ spa getaway.

Château Frontenac

A large salt water pool and hot tub

The first snowfall of the season was a reminder about the upcoming Quebec Winter Carnival that takes place from January 29 – February 14. Just outside on the Dufferin Terrace, the historic toboggan run is open. Downhill skiing is available at Mont Ste-Anne. Quebec City itself is picturesque during the winter months, and the Museum of Civilization is a short distance from Le Château. The Musée National des Beaux Arts is located just at the other end of The Plaines of Abraham. And of course, you can shop within the comfort of Le Chateau, and enjoy your luxurious accommodations.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is everything you’d expect in a luxury resort hotel – and more. It’s the place to be in Quebec City, and there’s an air of excitement in the bars and restaurants.

Travel Planner

Fairmont’s Le Château Frontenac is a comfortable three hour drive from Montreal. VIA Rail has numerous trains every day. For reservations, please visit: or call:   1-866-540-4460 or the hotel directly:  1-418-692-3861

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