Stay at Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec City

Experiencing the Magic of Chateau Frontenac

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Pamela MacNaughtan

A stunning chateau-style hotel reminiscent of the 14th and 15th-century French Renaissance architecture of the Loire Valley, Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City stands majestically atop Cap Diamant, keeping a watchful eye on the Saint-Lawrence River and the neighbourhoods below.

One of the most iconic hotels in Canada, Château Frontenac has become the heart and soul of Old Quebec, and one of the most photographed hotels in the world.

Chateau Frontenac at Sunset

The hotel’s castle-like façade and lush interiors are architecture and design porn, utterly mesmerizing and irresistible; demanding everyone’s attention and admiration.

I’ve lived in Quebec City since 2017 and Chateau Frontenac continues to grab my attention. I’ve spent hours looking at it from every angle and viewpoint possible. I’ve wandered through the halls and rooms open to the public, dined in its restaurants, and stayed overnight.

The hotel’s history and architectural details make me giddy, I’m weird that way. Chateau Frontenac is iconic and historic, and a great place to start time in the city.

A brief history

In 1620, the first fort was built where Chateau Frontenac now stands; housing Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France (now Quebec City) and his sentries. It was, by no means, grand.

Its location, at the top of Cap Diament, was purely strategic, a place where one can see miles down the Saint-Lawrence River; perfect for spotting enemy ships and giving the settlers time to prepare for battle.

The name, Fort Saint-Louis, was first noted on a 1635 map by Jean Bourdon along with two additional wings. A year later, Charles Huault de Montmagny, the first French Governor of New France, began the construction of Château Saint-Louis, which would become the official governor’s residence in New France.

A Grand Hotel Built for Luxurious Railway Passengers

Chateau Frontenac, a grand hotel built for luxurious railway passengers

One of the several chateau-style hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR) in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Chateau Frontenac was the third luxury hotel built by the railway company (Banff Spring Hotel was built in 1888, followed by Chateau Lake Louise in 1890).

With its steep copper roofs, dormer windows, walls made with Scottish bricks, turrets and spires, and views of the Saint-Lawrence River; Chateau Frontenac’s castle-like façade stole the hearts of all those who gazed upon it.

Its interior was lush, a colour palette of royal blue and gold, dark woods and intricately carved metal details greeted guests travelling through Canada by train.

In 1899, Price was asked to make additions to the now-popular hotel and the Citadel Wing and Citadel Pavillion were added, blending in with the original structure. In 1908, the Mont Carmel Wing was added (it cost 1.5 million dollars) and Chateau Frontenac became the biggest hotel in Canada.

Over the next twenty years, the number of rooms went from 170 to 658, and the 17th-storey central tower was added.

Famous guests and historic conferences

Chateau Frontenac - famous guests, conferences, and scenes

Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2018, Chateau Frontenac has welcomed countless celebrities, foreign dignitaries and royalty from around the world.

It was here that American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, met in 1943 and 1944 to discuss strategies for World War II.

The hotel was featured in the final scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s film, I Confess, and has been the backdrop in several movies and novels. Most recently it was featured in the movie French Girl with Zach Braff, Vanessa Hudgens, and Évelyne Brochu.

Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, today

Chateau Frontenac today
Fairmont Château Frontenac

Taking on the name, Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, in November 2001, the hotel had already gone through two major renovations ($10 million in 1973, and $65 million in 1993) which added restaurants, a shopping concourse, a health club, conference facilities, and an indoor pool. The total number of rooms available is now 611.

Its most recent renovation took place in 2014 and cost 75 million dollars; updating everything from the rooms to the restaurants, bars, and public spaces.  

The interior of Fairmont Chateau Frontenac has retained its historic architectural details: dark hand-carved wood accents; gold, brass and royal blue colour palette, marble staircases and beautiful stained glass windows.

Restaurants & Bars

Restaurant Champlain at Chateau Frontenac

Restaurant Champlain

The cozy elegance of its main restaurant, Champlain, remains with its hand-carved wooden motifs and old-world charm. A cheese cave, brass Art Deco chairs with pink velvet-like seats, crisp white linens and soft lighting add a sophisticated ambiance. Weekend brunch is by reservation and is highly recommended.

Le Sam, has been transformed into a Great Gatsby-esque bistro and cocktail lounge. Plush royal blue banquets with small black tables and tan leather bucket chairs line the walls.

The bar, a mixture of brass and gold, is the ultimate bling, a place to drink old-fashioned cocktails with a modern twist. Indulging in Afternoon Tea while overlooking Dufferin Terrace and the Saint-Lawrence River to utterly relaxing.

1608 Wine & Cheese Bar at Chateau Frontenac

1608 wine & cheese bar

Le Sam at Chateau Frontenac

Le Sam

Snuggled between Champlain and Le Sam, 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar features a semi-circle marble bar, small tables with faux-fur chairs, a fireplace and views of Dufferin Terrace and the Saint-Lawrence River.

A place to warm up and relax while you wait for your table, or simply to enjoy some wine, cocktails, a cheese plate, or all of the above.

Chateau Frontenac Rooms

Room at Chateau Frontenac

The original hotel (1893) featured 170 rooms, all of which had fireplaces. That being said, only 93 rooms had a private bathroom with marble fixtures; rates in 1912 started at $4 per person per night for a room without a bathroom and $5.50 per person per night for a room with a bathroom.

The rooms at Fairmont Chateau Frontenac have been updated a couple of times over the years (1973, 1993, and 2014). Currently, the rooms are modern and contemporary in design with a colour palette of grey, white, soft blues and yellows.

Linens are crisp and beds are incredibly cozy. Views, of course, vary, from that of Dufferin Terrace and the Saint-Lawrence River to street views facing rues Mont Carmel or Saint-Louis. Bathrooms can be small.

Hotel Shops

Shopping at Chateau Frontenac

Similar to the other railway hotels in Canada, Fairmont Chateau Frontenac has a shopping concourse on the main level. Located in the hall leading to Champlain, 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar and Le Sam, the shopping concourse features an art gallery, as well as Lambert & Co boutique (which sells high-quality woollen goods which are made locally) and a boutique selling clothing and hotel merchandise.

Wander Around Fairmont Chateau Frontenac

Inside Chateau Frontenac
Artefacts at Chateau Frontenac

Wander the hallways, and look up and down to spot the unique details in the lobby. Go downstairs and admire the artifacts found during a large archaeological dig that took place during Quebec City’s 400th anniversary.

Take a walking tour of the hotel with Cicerone Walking Tours and learn more about the hotel’s history – easily one of the best tours in Old Quebec.

Stay with Fairmont Chateau Frontenac

5-Star HotelAddress: 1, rue des Carrières • 418-692-3861 • Valet parking is 50 CAD/night for hotel guests • Electric vehicle charging stations available • Public transport: Bus 11 stops in front of the hotel on rue Saint-Louis • Book your stay now

In & Around Chateau Frontenac

Chateau Frontenac is centrally located in Old Quebec, making it a fabulous jumping-off point for Quebec adventures. Let’s chat about nearby places, restaurants, shops, and tours!

Street parking: There is metered street parking available on rue des Carrières, and further down on rue des Remparts.

Closest grocery store: Épicerie Richard on rue des Jardins is a 2-minute walk from the hotel. They have a small selection of fresh produce, wines, cheese, snacks, sodas, and non-perishables.

Closest pharmacy: There is a Jean Coutu on rue Saint-Jean which is a drug store with a pharmacy, and your best option. The pharmacy across from the hospital is quite small.

Best nearby cafes: Skip Starbucks and head to Maison Smith on rue des Jardins or Au1884 on Dufferin Terrace. Both cafes serve excellent locally roasted coffees and superb chocolat chaud.

Best nearby restaurants: There are several fabulous restaurants near the Chateau Frontenac. For Québécois cuisine, go to Aux Anciens Canadiens or La Buche. On rue des Jardins is a wonderful bistro, Alphonse, and my favourite spot for gourmet burgers and poutine is Le Chic Shack.

Shopping near Chateau Frontenac: Artist Alley on rue Sainte-Anne is lovely for buying local art, and Les Trouvailles des Jules has delicious Quebec terroir (perfect for foodie souvenirs). Simons is a fabulous Quebec department store, and La Boutique de Noël is Christmas all year round.

Guided Tours near Chateau Frontenac: Several guided tours depart near Chateau Frontenac; including Old Quebec City Food & Drink tour, Ile d’Orleans Taste & Drink tour, and the Double Decker Express tour.

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