Driving up to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel on Renee Levesque O Boulevard in Montreal, it is evident that this is a hotel steeped in history, regal beauty and class.
We had been looking forward to this four day March break excursion with our family to spend some quality time together, and of course to see the beloved Montreal Canadiens game at the Bell Centre. My son had been patiently waiting to use the two game tickets that he received at Christmas.
As we roll up to the front of the hotel after a long drive from Guelph, before we even put the vehicle into park, a friendly and warm face greeted us to welcome our family to the hotel. The wonderful valet service is just one of the many exceptional service details that this hotel has mastered. As I opened the door, arms swelling with an overflow of our travel remnants (a la crumpled newspapers and Tim Horton’s coffee cups) he graciously offered to take them off of my hands. As I smiled and sighed relief I thought, “Ahh, this mama bear is officially on holidays now!”
As we unpacked in our room, we took in the beauty of looking down upon Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral that is adjacent to the hotel, and the bustling city down below. The rooms are gorgeous, spacious and comfortable. We signed up for the free Fairmont President’s Club membership (which I highly recommend) and we enjoyed the immediate benefit of Wi-Fi in the room for the duration of our stay.
After checking in, we ventured to Les Voyageurs – Bar Lounge in the hotel. We were pleased to see that the kids were welcome in this restaurant. It was a lovely meal and the ambience allowed my husband and I to start to unwind with the backdrop of the Thursday night Habs game playing on the TVs in the lounge.
We were eager to get to the pool after dinner. The pool is one of the highlights for my daughter and I, as we enjoyed late night and early morning dips in the hot tub and pool. The adjacent fitness club with a staff member on desk to greet us is comforting to know that assistance is available at any time. The infused water at the desk is another one of the many details that this hotel does well. Every day is different: apples, oranges, lemons, beets, and star fruit are just some of the foods used to infuse and encourage you to drink more water and you feel healthier just by looking at it! It is a great touch and creates a beautiful visual focus at the desk.
On Friday, we took the 15 minute drive to the Montreal Canadiens practice facility which was a definite highlight for the Habs fans in our family. Here, you can watch the players sweat it out during their dry land training on the astroturf, followed up with a practice on the ice. It is always best to get there early to secure a seat at the glass. Here, my son revels at how the drills that his hockey heroes are subjected to during practice are the same ones that he often runs through with his own hockey team.
As we watched the practice, I asked my son who his favourite player is and he quickly said, “Gallagher. He always has a smile on his face,” as my heart began to swell at his sensitive observation he added, “Even when he’s in a scuffle.” Oh the reflections of an 11-year old Habs fan.
Watching the practice is followed by a browse through the store that is at the front entrance of the facility, and then the wait begins – the wait for the players to head out in their cars at the side of the building. It is a long wait and a freezing one at that. My daughter and I pull the plug after about an hour and watch a movie in the warm comfort of our mini-van. My husband and son still wait, with their sharpie markers and jerseys in-hand. The players eventually pull up in their vehicles along the fence as they are leaving and open up their windows to sign autographs on whatever paraphernalia is handed to them through their car window. It is a thrilling opportunity for my son to get an up close and personal glimpse of his favourite players. Some of the players quietly leave through other exits, but we are so thankful to those that take the time to sign autographs for their super fans.
On Friday night, we went exploring through the underground city that is connected to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. We ended up eating dinner while watching the skaters at the Atrium le 1000 indoor and year-round ice-skating rink. This is a must-do for our next trip to Montreal. The beauty of staying at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is that you can walk all the way from the hotel to the Bell Centre underground, saving you from being encumbered by your winter coat, boots, hats and mitts. It’s great to travel light in the cold of winter in Montreal, providing a welcome reprieve from the elements.
On Saturday, we enjoyed lounging all morning in the comfort and beauty of our hotel room. My husband and I could have spent all day in our room, but the kids were getting restless so we took the time to explore Old Montreal. The beauty of Old Montreal is hard to explain: historical, elegant, peaceful and graceful. These words don’t seem describe it in the way it deserves. We enjoyed a lunch at a crepe and fondue café. My son remarked that he had the best milkshake of his life there. We browsed the shops. The kids enjoyed rolling their own maple taffy, as they had just seen a video about this in their French class and couldn’t wait to tell their French teacher about doing this in Montreal. So much to see yet so little time.
On Saturday evening, the boys donned their jerseys and we went underground to enjoy dinner together at one of the many restaurants. As they headed off to the Bell Centre, my daughter and I went to explore our hotel a little further. As the hotel is the location of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1969 Bed-in, we discussed their intent to raise awareness for Peace, including the spontaneous recording of the famous song “Give Peace a Chance” during their stay. We headed up to the 17th floor to see room 1742, where they stayed 46 years ago. We peeked out of the elevator, much to my daughter’s dismay, at the various floors of the hotel, each seeming to have their own unique look and feel.
The employees at this hotel were ever-friendly and helpful. The hotel was gorgeous and spotless. We observed the staff members dusting behind signs and inside of light fixtures. Every nook and cranny was impeccably maintained.
We had a beautiful getaway at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, and enjoying what Montreal has to offer was the icing on the cake (along with the Montreal Canadiens’ win on Saturday night). As we ventured onto the road for the drive home, we rhymed off all of the things we would like to do next time we are in Montreal. We are already looking forward to our next Montreal holiday excursion.
More information at this hotel can be found at the following link: http://www.fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-montreal/