Fairmont Chateau Laurier
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- Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Canada’s Castle on the Hill Celebrates it’s 100 anniversary
By Miriam Porter
"Miriam Porter and her son Noah treated like royalty at Fairmont’s Chateau Laurier, where kings and queens stay"
OTTAWA — In a land not far away, there stands a castle on a hill where kings and queens and princesses have danced and dined in a fairytale setting for 100 years.
“Wow” says my little six-year-old prince Noah when we first enter the “castle” that looks like it jumped off the pages of one of his bedtime books.
Actually, this “castle” is a hotel — the historic Fairmont Chateau Laurier — and for 100 years Ottawa’s Grand Dame has played host to some of the world’s most important people — heads of states and the kings and queens of the entertainment world — thanks to its close proximity to Parliament Hill, where the business of Canada is conducted. “Oh, if only these hallowed walls could talk,” I say to myself as we check into the 100-year-old Chateau Laurier that appears to be getting better with age.
And just like any “castle”, the Chateau has its secret passage and ghost. Deep within the corridors of this 429 room beauty lays an underground steam pipe tunnel that links the hotel to the Parliament buildings across the street; and it’s said the ghost of Charles Melville Hays walks the corridors of this classic structure. Hays, the general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the mastermind behind the building of the Chateau Laurier, sadly died on the Titanic in 1912 when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. However, staff here tell tales of hearing Hays’ friendly spirit whispering to them as they go about their daily chores.
The thought of sleeping in a haunted castle brings a smile to my adventurous Noah.
The Fairmont Chateau Laurier’s combination of French Renaissance style and neo-Gothic vertical lines mirrors that of the Parliament Buildings and so the grand lady blends in beautifully with her stately surroundings. Officially opened by Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier, on June 1, 1912, guests back then were asked to pay $2 a night. Prices have gone up in the last 100 years, but what hasn’t changed is the old style renaissance and eternal elegance of the Chateau Laurier.
Arriving at the castle’s majestic “draw- bridge” (main door), we are kindly greeted by smiling “knights” in uniform (bellboys). They lavishly open our “chariot” (taxi) and lead us into the magnificent grand lobby.
Prince Noah is in awe and immediately runs over to one of the luxurious couches and tests its softness and bounce-ability.
“This place is huge!” shouts Noah loudly — but nobody minds since this child-friendly castle has many princes and princesses playfully exploring the lobby.
Stunning black and white photographs lining the wood paneled walls catch my attention. I later learn they are original photos taken by famous photographer Yousuf Karsh, who actually lived in the Chateau for 18 years with his wife Estrellita and operated his famed photo studio on the hotel’s sixth floor. His collectible pieces occupy museums around the world and one of his most famous photos of a grumpy Sir Winston Churchill scowling at the camera was taken in the hotel and now occupies a treasured place off the lobby. (Historians say Karsh got Churchill to frown by snatching the great man’s cigar out of his mouth just as he snapped the photo).
Prince Noah and I are escorted through the ostentatious hallways to our weekend castle by a member of the hotel’s friendly staff.
Despite being 100 years old, you don’t need to worry about the modern necessities of life being offered at the Chateau. The rooms here have Internet connections with WIFI readily available, in room safes, mini bars stocked to the brim and multiple telephones.
Noah squeals with delight: “Mommy, there is a phone in the bathroom! Let’s call someone!”
I’m too busy admiring the luxurious white bathrobes and deliciously smelling sample products that occupy the lavish bathroom to answer him.
After a fun day of exploring kid-friendly Ottawa, my prince and I work up quite an appetite. Every castle needs a chef and the Chateau Laurier
has the best on the Hill — Chef Daniel Buss. When Noah and I get to meet Chef Buss, he offer us a tour of his impressive kitchen. Daniel’s genuine kind nature and sense of humor is a perfect match for his brilliant culinary talent. Noah likes him the moment Chef gives him his own chef’s hat and my little Chef boldly asks many important culinary questions:
* “Why is your hat SO tall?”
* “Are you extra careful when you turn on the hot oven?”
* “Have you ever got locked in that huge freezer?”
* “Where is the chocolate machine?” Chef’s kind blue eyes crinkle into a smile as he patiently responds to each of Noah’s questions.
My inquiries are food based. Noah and I follow a Vegan diet and similar to my friends with kids that are allergic to dairy, gluten or peanuts, we are always aware of menu options when travelling. And Daniel, a father of three, has a genuine understanding of parent’s concerns.
Like all Fairmont Hotels, the Chateau Laurier caters to specific dietary needs and offers “Lifestyle Cuisine” dishes for guests with specific diet-dependent conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The chain’s “Cuisine Plus” menu offers Vegan, raw and macrobiotic choices — all using fresh and nutritional ingredients.
My Vegan prince and I dine at Wilfred’s restaurant overlooking a picture perfect view of Parliament. My spinach mushroom salad and stir-fry veggies with rice are delicious. Noah dips his fresh baked pita into hummus, takes a loud slurp of his virgin Strawberry Daiquiri and announces, “I want to live here.”
After dinner we roam the majestic foyer to get a closer look at the hotel’s museum quality pieces. Suddenly, Noah screams, “I see Albert the vegetarian!” and runs off. His enthusiasm is contagious and several children happily chase after him.
Noah stops at an antique desk, stands on a chair and excitedly points to one of Karsh’s photographs. Sure enough, it’s Albert Einstein looking right at us.
(I had once shown Noah photos of famous vegetarians — he has a very good memory.)
For the duration of our stay each time we walk through the lobby Noah waves and laughs at the photograph and cheerily says, “Hi Albert!”
Like all fairy tales, our trip to Ottawa has a happy ending thanks to our stay at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier — our castle on the Hill.Recommended for:
- Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Enjoyed our stay. The hotel is celebrating it's 100th year anniversary this year and has plenty of impressive historical memorabilia. Located steps away from Parliament, near the Locks and Rideau Canal, right in the heart of the city this is THE place to stay in Ottawa. If you can't afford to stay here, I would highly recommend you go for high tea, drink or dinner. The hotel is spacious, rooms well appointed and comfortable.Recommended for:
Dining options at Fairmont Chateau Laurier include a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an indoor pool, a health club, a sauna, and a fitness facility. This 4.0 star property has a business center and offers small meeting rooms, a technology helpdesk, and audio visual equipment. High speed Internet access is available in public areas. This Ottawa property has event space consisting of banquet facilities, conference/meeting rooms, a ballroom, and exhibit space. Additional property amenities include a concierge desk, multilingual staff, and gift shops/newsstands.
There are 429 guestrooms at Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Beds come with pillowtop mattresses and signature bedding. Coffee/tea makers and minibars are offered. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, bathrobes, complimentary toiletries, and hair dryers. Wireless and wired high speed Internet access is available for a surcharge; guestrooms also offer multi
Notifications and Fees:
The following fees and deposits are charged by the property at time of service, check in, or check out.
- Pets: C$ 25 per day
The above list may not be comprehensive. Fees and deposits may not include tax and are subject to change.
- Business Center
- Fitness Center
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Pets Allowed
- Data Ports
- TV In Room
- Hair Dryer
- Air Conditioning
- Electronic Room Keys
- In-House Bar
- Video Check Out
- Meeting Rooms
- Clothing Iron
- In-House Dining
- Wake Up Service
- Family Rooms
- Coffee & Tea Maker
- Mini Bar In Room
Excellent!2449 reviews across the web.
- Guests recommend this as a luxury hotel.
- Guests say the hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway.
- Location95% liked the proximity to shopping.
- Service93% found the staff to be very friendly.
- Ambiance92% enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.
- GroundsPool was lovely, according to 86%.
- HotelHotel is great.
- Hotel BuildingVery nice building.