Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel

The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel has not only been completely renovated; it’s been re-imagined

A downtown landmark since it first opened, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth has been more than a hotel for Montreal, it’s been part of the social fabric of our city. It housed the legendary Beaver Club, its bars and restaurants a meeting place for executives and members of the legal community, and home to major banquets and conventions. Tourists flocked to the immense hotel because of its convenient downtown location and proximity to Central Station. Through it all, the hotel staff delivered on the promise of customer satisfaction.

Queen Elizabeth

Contemporary elegance of a Fairmont Gold room

After a year-plus of being closed for extensive renovations, ‘The New Queen’ is open for business; and it seems that they never missed a step. Hotel guests have flocked back to the hotel, convention bookings are coming in at a record pace, and Montrealers have enthusiastically accepted those aspects of the hotel that are completely different, such as the main floor Le Marché, just off the main lobby.

I attended the unveiling of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono suite. I was a teenager when the rock ‘n’ roll power couple had their “bed-in” for Peace in Suite 1742, and recorded Give Peace A Chance. The suite has been re-done with mementos from that now-historic visit. Song Lyrics on the walls, the famous bed that John moved into the suite’s living room so that he and Yoko could host visiting media, celebrities and hangers-on. There is a 1960s green telephone that plays a recording when you pick up the receiver; “Hi folks, this is John and Yoko…” It sparked a flood of warm memories of my teenage years.

Queen Elizabeth

The Urbane and comfortable St-Henri Suite

The suite has an additional audio and video museum in another room. If you’re feeling flush, or have a landmark birthday, The John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite is available for guests. The last I heard is that it was running at about $1,600+ a night. But what a story you’ll be able to tell. Who cares if “George Washington slept here!” Most people in my generation would be much more impressed with “John Lennon slept here.”

Sales and Marketing Director Anne Marie Johns took me and another journalist on an impromptu tour of the renovated meeting rooms, public spaces and Rosélys – the main restaurant located where Le Montréalais used to be. The residential design team from the very cool Sid Lee agency were involved in the re-imagining of the hotel and its public spaces. Throughout there is a 60s feel to the decor, somewhat reminiscent of the popular Madmen show.

Queen Elizabeth

Rosélys is an overnight sensation with the business community and for a weekend brunch
Photo: Stephane Brugger

On the mezzanine floor there are temporary work spaces equipped with whiteboards, large screen TV monitors and meeting tables, so that visiting or local business people can arrange to meet and do some brainstorming. It’s a fast-developing concept of “virtual” work space that is only used for as long as its need – usually measured in hours.

The space above the main entrance on René-Lévesque is now a terrace with terrific views looking up McGill College to the McGill University campus. It was easy to imagine enjoying a coffee or cocktail on a warm summer afternoon.

The re-imagined rooms are stunning, and when you have business associates coming to Montreal, make sure that you suggest that they try Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. Better yet, how about playing tourist in your own city, including a great dinner at Rosélys.

Rosélys is inspired by a French bistro, with a two-story ceiling and a pleasant hubbub that tells you that this is indeed a place to see and be seen, all the while enjoying excellent cuisine. Bartenders are long gone – patrons are now entertained as well as served by Liquid Cuisine Mixologists. It’s all good fun. Rosélys has a mezzanine that is ideal for small groups or celebrating a special occasion. I enjoyed brunch with a group of twelve recently and everyone in our group was impressed. Sunday Brunch is obviously immensely popular, as there were line-ups as diners waited for their seating. Reservations are highly recommended! As I stated at the outset – Montrealers have flocked back to ‘The New Queen’ as if it had never closed.

Queen Elizabeth

Stained glass artwork from The Beaver Club marks entrance to Le Marché

Something entirely new is Le Marché, a European-inspired market just off the main lobby. This is a very smart business decision, based on the thousands of new condo units that have been built in the surrounding area. Le Marché is bright, super clean and best of all – offers top quality meats, fish, poultry, fresh breads, pastries, produce and of course, a coffee bar. It’s all managed by The Queen Elizabeth Executive Chef Vigo.

I recommend that you visit our new and re-invigorated Queen Elizabeth. You’ll be comfortable and pleasantly surprised at how our Montreal landmark has been re-imagined. Enjoy!