Viewed from one angle, Le Chateau is set in a touristic madhouse of shops and crowds. But sit in the back on the boardwalk and gaze up at the breathtaking architecture –– and it's a whole other story.
Unfortunately, at some point you do need to enter the hotel and the lobby is not the relaxing oasis you might have expected. As other reviewers have commented, there are a lot of tourists milling about. True, this Fairmont doesn't exude the refined air of exclusivity that you'll find at some of the other properties. I advise: just go in and out quickly, thinking about your great room and the gorgeous architecture and you'll survive. It's in the middle of the tourist district –– and chances are, you're a tourist yourself –– so what can you do.
Our check-in was gracious and efficient. In fact, they have an electronic pre-check-in feature that I particularly appreciated. I received an email while en route, informing me that my room was ready and inquiring how I was traveling to Quebec. I answered "by train." I received a response email that it was only about 15-minute walk from the train station, but uphill. That was important information; if we hadn’t known, we would have walked uphill, along narrow streets of cobblestone [yes, that’s an homage], so crowded with people that –– as we’d learn –– it was challenge to negotiate even without luggage.
(I also want to mention the entire reservation process –– which for me involved several phone calls and emails –– was gracious and efficient as well.)
We had a room with a river view on the 7th floor (the uppermost floor for the lower-priced tier). Our room and everything in it was lovely.
Housekeeping staff met my several requests immediately: extra hangers; a magnifying mirror (which was actually too good; ladies, you know what I mean); extra writing paper.
Some reviewers have commented on the small size of the rooms. I suppose our room was on the small side compared with more expensive rooms in the hotel, but I would not describe it as small. There was space for the queen bed with room to walk all around it; a bureau; desk and desk chair; and an upholstered chair with ottoman. There was plenty of space in the middle of the room to bring out the chairs, pull out the ironing board and play cards on it -- or iron some clothes, I guess. Outlets galore. Big windows that actually open –– wide. Functional, quiet air conditioning. Fitness note: there was a detailed map of six jogging paths in the desk. I loved that the “Do Not Disturb” door knob hanger has on the reverse a line drawing of a housekeeper with duster and vacuum. You can hang it on the door at the appropriate time and remove the guess-work from the occasion.
I stretched my pocketbook to stay at this luxury hotel –– as I am wont to do when there is a Fairmont in a town I'm visiting. I paid $280 to stay in this hotel where the best rooms are $800 and up. What I got in return was: attentive, friendly service; a nice gym (though not spectacular) that actually did have a spectacular locker room offering all kinds of amenities; beautiful furnishings, carpet and curtains my room; good quality amenities; writing paper and envelopes; plenty of surface space in the room and bathroom; a rooftop space to relax on padded chaise lounges or at cafe tables; a swimming pool (which I actually didn't use); umbrellas on loan (and it was pouring); concierge service. And every employee who walked by me in the halls greeted me with, "Bonjour." The stay was not inexpensive, but I never had to worry about feeling comfortable. In fact, I felt it was a pamper.
Tip: this hotel is enormous. If you're going to be in a hurry and/or if you don't appreciate the grandeur as you walk down the long hallways, you should probably request a room near the elevator.
The only area about which I was not unreservedly happy was the uneven concierge service, which ranged from warm and enthusiastic to businesslike.
My husband and I like to get off the beaten path; walk or take a bus and get to know the city; eat casual where the locals eat; and participate in local activities. We were lucky to be assisted by two concierges who understood and referred us accordingly, but several others did not get it all. One sent us to fine dining right in the central tourist area; another to a fast food sandwich shop hidden in a mini-mall.
[We never did get out of the parameters of the tourist map, but some of our favorite spots were near the edges: Cartier Street for walking and restaurants, on the way to or from the gorgeous Plains of Abraham park; summer outdoor concert series at the park; Café Sirocco and Chez Victor (for great burgers). Breakfast near-ish the hotel at Le Cochon Dingue.]
Be aware: any place you go from the hotel to … anywhere is going to be a hike. Most places we went were a few miles round trip, but the way back was a climb. Be prepared!
In short: The Hotel Le Chateau Frontenac is a beautiful hotel that manages to keep its regal bearing, plunked down as it is in a manic, teeming tourist area. Although I was at the low budget end of the spectrum, I felt I was staying in a luxury hotel environment.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Standing high on a bluff overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is not merely a hotel located in the heart of Old Québec - it is the heart of it. At Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, guests are guaranteed a memorable and inspiring stay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with easy walking access to all of the wonderful sites and experiences that Old Québec has to offer. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel Quebec City
- Fairmont Hotel Quebec City
- Fairmont Quebec City
- Quebec City Fairmont
- Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Quebec/Quebec City