In every city there is one hotel where the most important things happen and the most important people stay. In Québec City, it is Le Château Frontenac (right), a Fairmont Hotel. A turreted castle whose verdigris towers overlook the St. Lawrence River, this century-old architectural treasure is a much-beloved historic landmark.
It's built on the site where French and British governors once ruled. And during the 100+ years it has received guests, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has welcomed everyone from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Edith Piaf to Céline Dion to the Harlem Globetrotters.
The hotel is such an attraction that several 50-minute guided tours are led daily. They're narrated by actors representing 19th-century chambermaids, bellmen, elevator operators, and upper-class guests come to sip daily high tea.
More-modern visitors, such as the readers of Gourmet magazine, have singled out Fairmont Le Château Frontenac as No. 1 for romance.
While there's no dedicated honeymoon suite, there are a number of rooms with a Jacuzzi for two overlooking the most coveted promontory in Québec City.
On every floor, heritage premier rooms offer the best view of the river (at left). If you really want to splurge, book an Entree Gold room. These are located in the hotel-within-the-hotel on the 12th, 14th, and 15th floors. There's a private check-in desk, and complimentary breakfast and hors d'oeuvres are served daily.
The main hotel's cavernous lobby, dominated by a portrait of plume-hatted Lord Frontenac,* features reproductions of the original Medieval-style furniture and stained-glass windows from the turn of the century. New facilities include a light and airy spa and a Greco-Roman-style indoor pool with whirlpool. The hotel has thoughtfully designated the hour from 9-10 pm daily for adults only in the pool.
Naturally, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac isn't the only hotel in the city. Auberge du Trésor (800-566-1876), across the street, was built in 1679 and claims to have been where the continent's first French kiss occured.
Since bus traffic and the four million visitors Québec City welcomes annually can clog Vieux-Québec streets on weekends, it's best to come on a weekday or arrive either early or late in the day during June-October.
Be advised that Québec City is a steep, hilly place. Comfortable shoes and a sturdy constitution are a necessity.
Worth the Money: Ordering room-service breakfast in bed. Not Worth the Money: Eating an overpriced breakfast in any hotel restaurant.
- * Famous Saying:
When faced with the enemy and challenged to succumb, Lord Frontenac replied: "I will answer with the mouth of my cannons."
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