Following a year-long transformation, the largest hotel in Montreal is again open for business.
Twenty-one storeys high and located directly above Montreal’s Central Station, the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth has always embraced innovation. One of the first hotels to offer amenities such as escalators and central air in North America, since opening almost 60 years ago it has been the go-to lodging in town for everyone from Nelson Mandela to Queen Elizabeth herself. Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth is perhaps best known for being the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace—in 1969, the couple holed up in room 1742, where Lennon famously wrote and recorded Give Peace a Chance.
In 2016, owner Ivanhoé Cambridge closed the hotel for a year and spent over $140-million on a refresh led by Sid Lee Architecture. From over a thousand rooms pre-renovation, there are now 950 units including 100 suites and 100 Fairmont Gold rooms, each outfitted with sleek furniture and luxurious flourishes including patterned feature walls and ubiquitous built-in USB ports. The design is classically modern but with 1960s-inflected decor, a rich colour palette, and pleasing textures to add interest in each space.
The Queen E.’s common areas and restaurants have also been completely reimagined. The plush “business campus” is vast and surprisingly inviting, with intimate groupings of furniture arranged to encourage collaboration and maintain privacy. And while the iconic Beaver House restaurant is no more, one can now enjoy dishes such as snail cassolette and roasted duck at the stunning Rosélys bistro facing Mansfield Street, run by Chef Maxime Delmont. Craft drinks at Nacarat Bar are also an option, and much-anticipated is the opening this fall of the hotel’s Artisans market led by Chef Jean-Philippe Desjardins, which promises gourmet take-out counters, fresh groceries, noteworthy edibles from local small-scale producers, and even a Quebec wild game rotisserie.
The challenge with updating any iconic hotel is maintaining its character and charm while refreshing dated interiors and incorporating new amenities. The Queen E.’s renovation accomplishes these goals deftly. That iconic Bed-In room? You can still book it, but now the spacious suite comes with a virtual reality experience (you can relive the Bed-In protest through music, interviews, and archive footage) right alongside the kitchenette and freestanding bath.
Photos by Stephane Brugger via v2com.
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