The Fairmont Montebello joins the short list of Fairmont properties I’ve stayed in over the years. They include the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs and the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. All have delivered wonderful stays and experiences – but at a price – as you would expect from a hotel chain of this caliber.
A stay at the Fairmont Montebello was the reward for the “full experience” of the 50th anniversary of the Canada Ski Marathon. It is a cross-country skiing event over a weekend (160 km done broken into stages) that had been on my radar for some time. The first two nights included sleeping in a classroom on the floor of the Papineauville High School. By the time we’d finished the second tough day of skiing and sleeping on a floor, we were both very ready for a little luxury.
Enter the Le Chateau Montebello – a hotel I could have comfortably stayed at for days. Here’s why.
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The world’s largest log cabin
The building itself is fantastic. Called the world’s largest log cabin, it is truly an architectural masterpiece – and worth the visit just to see it.
With an enviable location on the north shore of the Ottawa River, the property is criss-crossed with hiking, cross-country skiing and dogsledding trails, in the small town of Montebello, Quebec.
History of the chateau
The chateau has a very interesting history. With 3,500 labourers working around the clock – even on Sundays – which was normally a day of rest, the chateau was built in just four months. (According to lore, the local curé, a man who would not have approved of working on Sundays, was sent to Rome for a conveniently timed two month holiday.)
It’s hard to appreciate the size of the chateau and the height of the structure without seeing it in person – definitely an incredible sight, especially inside.
The most beloved part of the hotel has got to be the six-sided stone fireplace that rises 20 metres (66 feet) to the roof. It’s a gathering spot with comfortable seating all around. In winter it’s a great place to sit and warm up. I especially like the fact you can order drinks and appies from the bar – just steps away -and then sit back and watch the world go by.
John and I enjoyed a spacious bedroom with a king-sized bed and sitting area. Though the hotel was opened on July 1, 1930, there have obviously been lots of upgrades as our room felt modern with only the bathroom harkening back to older times when they weren’t built to be big.
There are several dining rooms to try. A lot of regional products and some of the local brews are featured on the menu. I particularly liked the breakfast room. With big windows, it felt like you were part of the outdoors.
Exploring the Fairmont Montebello
Exploring the hotel is a lot of fun, especially as its got its fair share of nooks and crannies. Wandering the halls we discovered lots of historical photographs – showcasing many of the important politicians that have stayed here over the years.
We found private chairs for reading and even a colourful canoe on the second floor. It wasn’t until the morning after our stay that we discovered the pool via an underground walkway. It’s big and a great one if you’re into swimming laps. Too bad we missed the hot tub the night before. I would have enjoyed its soothing waters.
On a Monday morning we seemed to be the only ones out walking the grounds. Unfortunately we had a five-hour drive in front of us so we didn’t have much time to linger. But we did walk along the river – and could easily imagine how beautiful it would be when the snow was gone and you could go swimming and boating.
When it comes to the outdoors in winter, Chateau Montebello offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dogsledding and sleigh rides – along with a couple of small ice rinks for skating and shinny.
Rooms in February start at around $360 per night plus tax and the resort fee. All meals are extra.
Booking a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello
I think the Fairmont Chateau Montebello is worth the splurge. You can book it – even for a night through this link.
Further reading on things to do in Quebec in winter