Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth: A 21st-Century Transformation
In the heart of downtown Montreal, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth has been welcoming its guests for nearly 60 years. The hotel has hosted world dignitaries and celebrities, and was the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 bed-in for peace. To mark the city’s 375th anniversary and 150 years of the Canadian Confederation, this classic Quebec hotel is undergoing a dramatic top-to-bottom transformation, encompassing creative business spaces, luxurious contemporary rooms and innovative dining experiences. All common areas and 500 guest rooms open in early summer 2017, with the remaining rooms ready by fall 2017.
Business Outside The Box
Successful client meetings and business events require an inspirational setting, and Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth aims to ignite your creativity with its inventive working spaces. The hotel’s second and third floors are devoted to business, with a series of flexible, interconnected meeting rooms wired with state-of-the-art technology.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxed, colourful space for blue-sky thinking, a semi-private corner for a one-to-one meeting or a stylish hall for an evening function, the hotel’s business campus is sure to spark your imagination. When you’re ready to take a break, head onto the new adjacent outdoor terrace for a cup of coffee or glass of wine with views of the downtown skyline. The lobby-level is home to the Agora, a chic multifunctional gathering space with hidden food stations. It’s ideal for hosting everything from conferences to cocktail soirées.
Food and drink are central to the hotel experience, and with the renovation comes a dynamic mix of new eating and drinking possibilities. Headed up by chef Jean-Philippe Desjardins, the new urban market showcases local artisans and farmers. Marché Artisans is home to a grocery store specializing in healthy ready-made meals and seasonal produce like berries and wild mushrooms, as well as meat and fish stalls. You can pop in for a fresh pastry or take your pick from an enticing range of culinary stations for deliciously filling snacks such as wood-fired pizza and crêpes.
The Rosélys bistronomie restaurant is another great place to enjoy local cuisine from chef Maxime Belmont. From power breakfast or lunches, to afternoon tea, dinner or brunch, seasonal creations will change daily to please all foodies.
Award-winning mixologist Nader Chabaane, whose career has taken him to Paris, New York and across China, is sure to tempt you to pull up a stool at the sleek Nacarat Bar. Dubbed a “liquid kitchen” for its innovative cocktail-making method centred on kitchen-style bar stations, the new signature bar serves carefully crafted concoctions that add a contemporary twist to classic favourites. Pair your drinks with gourmet global small plates to share with friends or colleagues, and head onto the al fresco terrace on balmy evenings.
Luxurious Guest Rooms
Elegant and contemporary, the hotel’s guest rooms have been transformed into bright, comfortable and connected spaces where you can relax after a day’s sightseeing or catch up on business. One hundred of these rooms are spread over the three Fairmont Gold floors, which have dedicated check-in/check-out areas, plus access to the smart Fairmont Gold lounge, where you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast and evening canapés with breathtaking views over the iconic downtown buildings.
Music fans may be unable to resist reserving the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite, site of the aforementioned bed-in, where Lennon wrote and recorded the song “Give Peace a Chance.” You can stay in this spacious, renowned suite, which now features a 360-degree virtual reality experience complete with music, interviews and archive footage.
You might even spot celebrities secretly checking into the expansive Royal Ville-Marie Suite. A private panoramic elevator takes VIP guests to this chic, roomy apartment, where they can relax comfortably while in town. This sophisticated home-away-from-home comes with two large bedrooms, plus naturally lit living areas including a formal dining room and cozy library with fireplace.
Art and Activities
Take your time moving through the hotel to gaze at the extensive, newly curated art collection. Avant-garde pieces by local, up-and-coming artists celebrate the city’s diversity next to works by internationally acclaimed painters. You’ll also find pieces from the original 1958 collection in the new mix.
For relaxation or a workout, head to the hotel’s redesigned Wellness Centre, which features a graceful, renovated indoor pool and ultramodern gym equipment. The new Moment Spa featuring modern treatment rooms in a zen like atmosphere makes for a welcome break.
375 Years Young
To celebrate 375 years since the city’s founding, Montreal is hosting a packed calendar of special events. These include an eclectic line-up of festivities in honour of the 50th anniversary of Expo 67. Until October 1, McCord Museum’s Fashioning Expo 67 exhibition showcases clothing ranging from flight attendant uniforms to 1960s fashion by Quebec designers. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is holding “You Say You Want a Revolution” exhibit for all lovers of the 60s until October 9th.
Discover the city’s history at Pointe-à-Callière museum, whose new permanent exhibition, “Where Montreal Began,” tells the story of the city’s original French settlers. The highlight is a glass floor floating above the archaeological remains of Fort Ville-Marie. You can peer down into a 17th-century well and see the foundations of a metal-working shop.
For an atmospheric end to your trip, make your way to the Aura experience at the grand Notre-Dame Basilica, combining a light show with orchestral music and multimedia installations. Be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time. The event runs until the end of 2017.
Susie Henderson is passionate about travelling and has written articles and travel guides for numerous publications and websites, including the World Travel Guide, Sky News online, MSN Travel, Mail Travel, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She's lived in the UK, France, Spain and the US and is now based in Victoria, BC.
Old Montreal, Bonsecours Market, City Hall by vladone
Montreal view after sunset by PCostaBaldi
Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada by mpilecky