A Fairytale Experience in North America’s Most Historic Castle
Content Partner: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Standing majestically at the top of Cap Diamant in the heart of Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac overlooks Québec City and the Saint-Lawrence River like a regal king.
Entering the Icon
Greeted by a charming doorman, I smile and walk through the brushed gold revolving doors into a lobby with warm woods, accents in royal blue and brushed gold, and hand-painted wooden ceiling beams. A mixture of 125 years of history and Art Deco elegance, Le Château Frontenac is incredibly regal, and practically begging me to explore its hallways and public spaces, restaurants and historic corners.
Resisting the urge to start my grand exploration, I head to the Fairmont Gold Lounge on the 14th floor to check-in. An upgraded experience, Fairmont Gold offers private check-in, concierge service, and a private lounge. Occupying the top floors of the central tower, the views from Fairmont Gold’s rooms and lounge are superb, from cityscapes to the Saint-Lawrence River and the Laurentian mountains in the distance.
Welcomed by concierge Simon Bovoli, my check-in and introduction to the Fairmont Gold Lounge is smooth and filled with laughter and witty banter. Simon is charming and charismatic, and I immediately feel at home. Making a mental note to make time to enjoy the lounge access, I leave my bags in my room on the 15th floor and set out to explore the hotel.
Living History at Le Château Frontenac
I could take the historic walking tour of Le Château Frontenac, but I prefer to explore on my own, giving myself time to soak in the history and charm of the hotel. I follow Simon’s advice and go down to the second floor. Passing photographs of historical figures who have visited the hotel, antique chairs and furnishings, I soon find myself in the Palm Room. Now an open hall used for receptions, the Palm Room was once a lounge adorned with small wooden tables and chairs, planters of leafy palms and floral sofas.
Enchanted by the delicate hand-painted ceiling (circa 1920s), I sit down and let the history and beauty of the room wash over me. As a lover of history, architecture and culture, I am quickly falling head-over-heels in love with Le Château Frontenac. From where I stand, I can admire the hand-painted ceiling, and examine the details of the wooden beams and golden chandelier over the spiral marble staircases ahead of me. If I turn my head, I can see an Art Deco style hallway, bright and new and adorned with display cases filled with historic artifacts tied to the hotel’s history.
This, for me, is the spot where old and new connect. Opening my eyes as I continue to explore Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, basking in the ornate warmth while also enjoying the glitz and glamour.
Cocktails & Fine Dining
Soon, I find myself sliding onto a stool at 1608 Wine & Cheese bar and ordering a cocktail. It’s happy hour, and the small bar is abuzz with activity. Black wood panel walls and bookcases, fireplaces and leather seating give the bar a warm club room feel. It’s a place where one can swish brandy around a glass while enjoying a crackling fire, sip a glass of fine wine while savouring a platter of cheeses from Québec, or enjoy an artisanal cocktail. A lovely spot to relax before dinner.
While I’m tempted by the charming bartenders to order a snack, I resist the urge, saving room for my dinner at Champlain, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac’s famous restaurant. Passing the restaurant’s cheese cave and glass-encased wine walls, I’m seated on the restaurant's enclosed terrace with views of the city, Dufferin Terrace and the St. Lawrence River. The restaurant is a delightful mixture of warmth and glamour, hand-painted panel ceilings, carved wood, rose and silver Art Deco décor, and Québécois art and sculptures.
The perfect venue to showcase the culinary talent of Champlain’s chef, Stéphane Modat. A prominent chef in Québec, Modat is known for his creativity and desire to incorporate local techniques and traditions into his dishes. Visiting remote indigenous villages to learn about traditional food and culture, using that knowledge to introduce visitors to the richness of Québec’s history and culture through food.
My waiter, François, introduces the menu, informing of the specials and leaves me to decide. While the Modat Experience sounds divine, I’m not sure if I can eat 5 courses, so I order roasted echalion cream with bread crust with truffled tapenade to start, followed by the halibut special and a chocolate-covered crème brûlée for dessert.
Soon, I’m presented with a beef croquette amuse-bouche, followed by a surprise serving of smoked arctic char. The roasted echalion cream arrived soon after and captivated my taste buds. Light and creamy with subtle flavours, the soup was a dreamy way to watch the sun set slowly over the St. Lawrence River outside. The halibut did not disappoint, perfectly cooked and presented on a bed of pureed parsnips.
As my chocolate-covered crème brûlée arrives I realize that I have, in fact, enjoyed a 5-course dinner, and marvel over the deliciousness of every dish. It is rare to deeply enjoy every dish ordered in a restaurant, but the excellence of the cuisine at Champlain Restaurant has won me over and I’m already dreaming of returning in the future.
Feeling satiated, I head back to my room for a peaceful night’s sleep in a cozy bed. The following morning, I’m greeted by Simon as I arrive in the Fairmont Gold Lounge for breakfast. I sit by a window and enjoy the serenity of the lounge before heading out into Old Québec to explore.
Exploring Old Québec
Located in the heart of Old Québec, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is the perfect place to begin exploring the city. The 17th and 18th-century buildings give the city a European charm that captivates my heart.
Walking along Dufferin Terrace and taking in the views of Petit-Champlain below and the St. Lawrence River, walking down to Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. Shopping along rue Saint-Jean while getting to the gates and fortifications. Visiting Place-Royale and falling in love with Petit-Champlain.
Returning to Fairmont Le Château Frontenac early afternoon, I make my way to Place Dufferin on the lower level of the hotel for afternoon tea. The restaurant, where breakfast is served each day, is breathtaking. Art Deco in style with golds and royal blues, a subtle version to the Great Gatsby feel of Le Sam bistro on the hotel’s main floor.
Led to a table on the enclosed terrace, I become giddy over the exclusive colourful Alice in Wonderland inspired china. As I listen to the soothing voice of the Jazz Singer Mademoizelle Fizz, it becomes clear that afternoon tea at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is an enchanting experience. Afternoon tea starts with optional champagne and tea selection, followed by a dish of fresh fruit and a white cranberry jelly. With tea poured, a dish with a savoury and traditional scone arrive and I jump at the chance to slather them with housemade raspberry preserve and clotted cream. A black and silver three-tier stand arrives with tempting sandwiches and a blue cheese lollipop. Working from the top down, the experience moves from delicate and subtle to crunchy, sharp and smooth.
A trio of desserts arrive, and the bright green apple and pear tart quickly becomes my favourite. When the salted caramels and white chocolates arrive, I have spent almost two hours enjoying my afternoon tea experience.
Enjoy a Royal Experience
Every experience at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has been superb, from the warm and jovial welcome when I first arrived to my dining experiences and exploration of the hotel’s history. Whether you take a tour of the hotel, dine in its restaurants or stay and experience the hotel as I have, make time to explore the inside of Le Château Frontenac to admire its architecture and discover its history.
Whether you stay in a regular room or decide to splurge and stay in a Fairmont Gold room, one of the best things about Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is that every guest is treated like royalty.
A Stay at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (CITQ - 040703)
1 Rue des Carrières, Québec City, QC G1R 4P5
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