Where to Stay in Quebec City, Canada: The Chateau Frontenac
When you’re wondering where to stay in Quebec City, The Hotel Chateau Frontenac is THE PLACE TO BE. Its history, exceptional service and location make it an ideal home base for exploring the old town of Quebec. It’s fairly pricey which is why we only stayed one night, but it’s totally worth it in order to get the full Quebecois experience. I mean, look at these photos! Before you travel, take the time to also search the hotel in Instagram; the gorgeous turrets and castle-like architecture have made the Chateau one of the most photographed hotels in the world! People are obsessed with capturing this building from any angle and at all times of the day. Even in the middle of a snowstorm, surrounded by gray, cloud-filled skies, the Chateau stands proudly and beautifully.
An Architectural Icon in Quebec City
The Chateau Frontenac is situated on top of Cape Diamond, one of the tallest hills in the city, making it a beacon for all of Quebec City. Whether you’re right in front of the building looking up or you can see if from further away in the streets of the Old Town of Quebec City below, there is not one bad view of this architectural stunner. For part of our trip, we stayed at a Hilton hotel that was a couple miles away and we could still see the Chateau from our window, lit up with red and green lights for the holidays.
Not only does it have a strong visual presence due to its size (clocking in at over 600 rooms) but the construction looks more like an ancient castle than a hotel. Built in 1833, it was originally conceptualized to promote the luxury train travel of the Canadian Pacific Railway. But you really can’t deny that this building looks so much like Hogwarts Castle! The strong eaves of the roof and different wings with towers and turrets will make you feel like royalty. You may even be tempted to do a royal wave out of one of the windows towards the top.
At night the outside walls of hotel shine with dramatic upward lighting and spotlights. While we were visiting over Christmas, there were LED lights of snowflakes on the roof as well, adding whimsy to the drama. Everything about this hotel feels like magic.
Inside, the building is a bit of a maze due to addition after addition and wing after wing being added over the years. We took a stroll to the indoor pool and workout facility and decided the take the stairs back up to our room on the eighth floor. We ended up on a staircase that stopped at the fourth floor, went into a different staircase that only went up one more floor then finally found an elevator and realized we were in the wrong wing of the hotel. From that point on we stuck to one set of elevators that opened near the check-in desk. We found the craziness of the halls only added to the appeal of the hotel, giving this stunning building little bits of quirks and oddities throughout the interior.
The lobby of the hotel is constantly bustling from early morning until late at night. There are three restaurants and a Starbucks on the property as well as an art gallery and shopping. I was able to pick up a heavy wool scarf from Lambert and Co, a local winter accessory boutique, without even walking outside. That scarf ended up saving my nose and face from frostbite for the rest of the trip. Complimentary hot chocolate is also available in the evenings near the elevators. The tasteful holiday decorations, lights throughout the first floor and hardwood accents and chandeliers make you feel like you're walking through a winter wonderland fit for royalty (see? make sure you practice that royal wave).
Perks of the Hotel
The biggest perk of the Chateau is its location. Since the Chateau sits high on the hill, the adorable Old Town of Quebec City actually sits below the hotel closer to sea level. You can take a $3 CAD funicular (or tram) ride down to the Old Town, which has a station right outside the hotel. There is also a set of winding stairs near the hotel that will lead you the same way.
The Hotel is also the center of most of the guided tours in town and their concierge services can hook you up. We rented a car to get to all our stops outside of the city but most are accessible by tour bus as well. If you don’t want to travel outside of the city to a ski resort, the Chateau Frontenac also has its own toboggan slide situated near the back side of the hotel with views of the nearby St Lawerence River.
Another plus to staying here: everyone can see the stunning panoramas which come with staying overnight at such a high elevation. Usually when you stay in a hotel, you have to be lucky enough or pay enough to end up with a room that has the perfect window facing the perfect direction for a picturesque view. However, we were able to capture our best pictures of the frozen river and the Old Town below from the hallway windows across from the elevators!
As the most prominent building in the Quebec City skyline and having so much history within its walls (even once being home to famous names such as Charlie Chaplin and Queen Elizabeth II), the Chateau Frontenac is a must stop. When you’re looking at the many options of where to stay in Quebec City, take note that the Chateau is rated by tourists and hotel critics alike as one of the best. You'll feel like a celebrity as soon as the bellhop takes your bags in the lobby. As you walk through the hallways filled with luxury and glamour, you'll feel like you've been transported in time, making your Quebec vacation even more special.