Located an hours drive between Ottawa and Montreal, The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is one of Canada’s most iconic hotels, which proudly claims the title as “the world’s largest log cabin.” The sprawling resort is a perfectly luxurious pitstop for those enjoying a road trip between Ontario and Quebec.
In February of 1930, the site where the Fairmont in Montebello now stands was just a clearing in the woods. Just four months later, the massive cedar Chateau was complete: a building feat which captured the popular imagination of the time, inspiring newspaper features across North America and attracting crowds of onlookers.
The dream of Swiss-American Harold Saddlemire, who dubbed it “Lucerne-in-Quebec,” Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello was inspired by the luxurious alpine lodges from Saddlemire’s Switzerland. A crew of 800 worked around the clock using 10,000 giant cedar logs to build the resort’s three main buildings, all cut and set by hand. The central log chateau, which houses all the guest rooms in the resort, has a three-storey central atrium, at the heart of which stands a massive six-sided fireplace with a central chimney.
The hotel’s jaw-dropping lobby is one of the most dazzling I’ve ever encountered. The open-concept space is designed in the shape of a hexagon with a booming fireplace acting as the impressive focal point. Look up and you’ll find a double decker balcony featuring hallways adorned with vintage photographs of the property as well as bold faced name celebrities, politicians and royals who have visited in the property in the past such as Patrick Dempsey, George W Bush, Sir Richard Attenborough, Sandra Bullock, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Regan, and the Royal Family of Monaco.
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello offers a total of 211 luxury accommodations, including six Jacuzzi Rooms perfect for a romantic couples retreat. The rustic elegance and warmth of the wilderness comes alive in each room via chalet-inspired decor. Plush king beds keep you cozy on a cold winters night while in the morning Rose 31 bath amenities keep you feeling fresh.
There’s no better way to celebrate then by clinking glasses in front of a booming fire at Bar Le Foyer. Get comfy and cozy and you’ll find the rest of the hotel’s guests treating the space like their very own living room (it’s a popular resting stop for bookworms). Cocktail fans swoon for the resident mixologist’s Collins Royal (Belvedere vodka, Moët & Chandon, brut, mint, cucumber, lemon), and Le Bontaney (Botanist Islay Gin, elderflower cordial, Aperol, and lime).
Nestled on the side of a rolling hill, overlooking the hotel’s marina, river and the surrounding forest, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello’s spa mixes modern and traditional design while incorporating rural Quebec’s natural beauty. Like a traditional Quebec home, the fireplace in the Salon La Clairière ‘clearing in the forest’ is the heart of the spa: a gathering place where guests relax before indulging in their treatment.
The couple’s suite, Salon La Source, is the ideal retreat for those traveling with romance in mind. Surrounded by lovely views of the river, the suite features a fireplace, soaking tub for two, rain shower, and side-by-side treatment tables.
Skip outside of the spa and you’ll find yourself standing under an awe-inspiring timber roof, home to the hotel’s multi-faceted Health Club. The space features an indoor heated pool, two whirlpools, dry sauna, exercise room, and squash and tennis courts.
If you’re visiting the hotel during the winter months there are plenty of on-site activities to keep you busy. Guests can enjoy a free curling lesson on the daily, as well as opportunities to try tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling.
For those looking to experience a truly Canadian winter tradition, there’s a dogsledding outfit which operates just a stones throw from the hotel’s lobby. Squeal and giggle yourself silly on a lively mushing experience as a team of friendly dogs soars across soft powdered snow, swerving in and out lush forests dotted with pristine pines.
One of Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello’s most unique offerings is its year-round Land Rover Off-Road Driving Experience, the only one of its kind in Canada. Luxury car nerds will find they’ve found Nirvana as they maneuver around a course located a short drive from the hotel. The sprawling 65,000 acre natural site offers the perfect setting to navigate technical woodland obstacles. Tours are led by a knowledgable guide who educates each driver about the vehicles impressive tech-savvy bells and whistles.
Located a five minute drive from the hotel, Parc Omega is a private 1,500 acre private park offering hours of fun for animal lovers. Guests sit behind the wheel of their own vehicle and navigate a 10km winding road as friendly forest creatures come right up to your window (keen to nibble on carrots which guests feed to enthusiastic deer and wild boars). Parc Omega may just be the the best spot in Canada to witness the country’s most iconic animals up close and personal. Highlights include elk, deer, bison, moose, wolves, black bears, Alpine ibex, bald headed eagle, beaver, turtles, great blue heron, caribou, Arctic fox, and Musk ox.
Back at the hotel you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy a fine feast. In the morning an epic breakfast buffet reigns supreme at Aux Chantignoles. The hotel’s Sunday brunch is famous on special occasions like Mother’s Day and over the Christmas holidays when both floors of the dining room are packed with feasting families. Breakfast highlights include Quebecois specialities such as pork creton with mustard, maple baked beans, and Fairmont’s signature drool-worthy decadence, “maple crepes,” featuring thin French pancakes rolled into cigars and topped with maple cream.
Bistro La Seigneurie is the place to be if your’e looking for a casual nosh at lunch. The kitchen here serves up trendy Quebecois bistro grub such as Squash and Mozzarella Salad, a signature sausage stuffed with pork, cheese curds and maple, smokey Gnocchi with mushroom, veal jus and green onion cream, and Grilled Atlantic Salmon accompanied by farro, kale and a fresh squeeze of lemon.
Those looking to indulge in a romantic fine dining experience while staying at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello should be sure to book a reservation at Aux Chantignoles. The culinary team here shows off its whimsy while at the same time celebrating classic Quebecois flavours. Tartare of Smoked Duck is paired with cedar and apricot gel while a savoury Maple Donut is filled with La Sauvagine cheese, topped with green apple and pumpkin seeds and dipped in parsnip veloute. French classics such as Frog Leg Ragout, Hazelnut Crusted Sweetbreads and Pan Seared Foie Gras, also offer more adventurous guests a truly decadent dining experience.