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Hotel Love: Quebec City’s Le Château Frontenac

Quebec City, Canada is one of the most stunning cities in the Americas. Settled in 1535 by the French, the city retains most of its old European charm, as well as the French language. With its romantic atmosphere, world class festivals and deep-rooted history, this destination has something for every visitor and it’s just a short trip from many locations in the United States. One location that dominates the skyline of this beautiful Canadian city is the Fairmont’s Le Château Frontenac, which was built in 1893 and remains a major feature of the area’s skyline. If you’ve seen photos of Quebec City, most likely you’ll recognize the hotel. Contrary to the name, this building was never actually a castle and it was originally constructed by the President of Canadian Pacific Railways William Van Horne to tempt wealthy visitors to stay in Quebec City. His aim still rings true, no matter your credit limit because staying at the opulent Le Château Frontenac will make you feel like royalty.

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Getting There: Quebec City is only a short trip by plane, train or even bus, from major US locations like New York, Boston and Chicago. Flights from other destinations may have to transfer through Montreal or Toronto. If you must transfer, I recommend doing so in Montreal, as international connections through the Toronto airport can be a bit of an ordeal. Arriving by train or bus however, will let you off at the Gare du Palais, a historic “Château de la Loire” style building, built in 1915. This lovely space is a destination in its own right, and worth a look even if you’d rather fly into town. Le Château itself is located in the heart of Old Town, which is easily accessible by taxi.

Your Experience: Le Château Frontenac is unbelievably beautiful. Every detail is designed to convince you that you’re visiting an actual castle; from the enclosed courtyard that hides the hotel’s entrance, the grandeur of the interior and the historic style of some of the rooms. Not to mention the excellent service provided by the staff. The highlight of my visit was dinner at Bistro Le Sam, which overlooks the St. Lawrence river and features live music several nights a week. The dishes here were both unique and delicious, the venison special was to die for and the wine list has something for every palate.

How to Stay: The Chateau offers a variety of rooms and suites for guests, each of which balances the historic elegance of the building with the modern luxury of other Fairmont hotels. Both rooms and suites have options with views of the city or river. Because of the high demand at this location, I recommended that you make your reservations at least a week or more in advance, especially during festivals or the high season, which is June-September and February for winter carnival.

Where to Eat: The hotel offers several luxury dining options including the Champlain Restaurant, the hotel’s wine and cheese bar 1608, Bistro Le Sam and the Place Dufferin, which offers buffet and a la cart breakfast with a stunning view of the Saint Lawrence River. If none of these are to your tastes, just step outside of the hotel and explore Old Town, where you can find over a thousand restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Pros & Cons:

Pros

• Fairmont’s Le Château Frontenac really epitomizes old world luxury. The staff goes out of its way to make sure that your stay here is an experience.

• The hotel is quite literally in the center of town, in fact it’s a major landmark, and staying here means that everything you could possibly want to see in Quebec City is only steps away.

• Even if a stay here is more than your budget can bear, you can still get a tour of the iconic building for around $17, through a company called Cicerone. Tours leave daily.

Cons

• This is a top tier luxury hotel, both the opulence and the price tag, reflect this. Be prepared to splurge if you want to stay here.

• The hotel, specifically an old-fashioned mailbox in the lobby, was apparently the site of an important scene in a Korean soap opera called Goblin. Visitors taking pictures of this mailbox and the grandeur of the place in general, can make the lobby area a bit crowded and confusing.

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