Montreal is an excellent start to any trip to Paris.
Enjoy 2 or 3 days in the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world before flying to the largest French speaking city in the world.
Montreal and the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
Speak French or English, You Choose
The great thing about Montreal is that it is officially bilingual so you can practice your French without fear of making mistakes before facing the people of Paris. Almost everyone in Montreal can speak English as easily as they speak French and if you are struggling with the language, they will flip into English for a chat.
We stayed in style during our weekend in Montreal.
Taking advantage of the media discount at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth we were right in the heart of all the action taking it easy in our junior suite.
Queen Elizabeth has been around since 1958 and it is most famous for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed In back in 1969. It was in this building that Give Peace a Chance was written.
As we looked over the guest list through the years we were impressed to see that The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates have stayed here.
Now they can add Dave and Deb to that list!
We were excited to be staying at the Fairmont. We are used to the rooms in Asia where the beds are hard and the cockroaches are not uncommon.
To open our door to our 1 bedroom/ 2 bath suite with a separate living room was something we are not accustomed to. A wonderful fruit tray was waiting for us along with 2 bottles of water on the coffee table and a media kit for us to peruse.
We ate the fruit as we read, but were too afraid to drink the water because we weren’t sure if they were free or not. According to our minibar menu, a bottle of water will set you back $9.00, besides, Canada has very potable water so water from the tap will do just fine for us.
We didn’t want to leave the suite!
Montreal is one of our favorite cities for dining out, but since we had this fabulous room we decided to buy some meats and cheeses and stay in for a night. It's not every day we get to live like the other half!
We needed to, we are going to be camping our way through France. In two short days we will be back to our old selves roughing it in tiny rooms or sleeping under the stars. But for now we are enjoying the comfort.
We went down to the hot tub and checked out the gym. They had a very well stocked gym with everything that the business man needs to stay in shape on the road. They even rent out shoes and workout clothes at the Fairmont in case you forget your own.
The Pool Needs Help
The pool was a little dated and small though. I don’t think many people care much for the pool when they are staying at a Fairmont Hotel, but I think their pool area needs an overhaul.
It was a small square room with a small square pool and a boxy hot tub stuck in the corner. There was no sauna and the steam baths were separated in the male and female change rooms. It just felt uninviting and uncomfortable. We didn’t stay for long.
What the pool area lacked, the restaurant made up for. The buffet breakfast was out of control. Assortments of fruits and meats and cheeses were on display.
Different types of cereals, yogurts and breads were offered and the hot buffet section was incredible. Eggs Benedict, eggs to order, omelette's, bacon, sausage. Anything you could think of eating for breakfast was offered. We ate so much that we didn’t even need lunch!
You pay for the luxury of staying at a Fairmont Hotel. On top of the room rate, the breakfast (if not included) will set you back 24.95 a person, an in house movie costs 14.95 and internet will set you back 17.95 for 24 hours and that is not even for wifi. You have to plug into an ethernet cable.
Pay for Internet in Hotels, It's a Sin
This is a problem we have Canada. All hotels charge you an extra fee on top of the outrageous prices that they already charge for the room. We have traveled to many places in the world and most offer free wifi.
Most airports offer free wifi too, but not in Canada. Maybe Fairmont will lead the way soon and offer their guests free wifi.
How is the Fairmont Overall?
Unlike the Royal York in Toronto or the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth isnt’ exactly a beautiful architectural display. It is a large boxy building built for size and to hold large conventions. Outside you would never think that it belongs to the prestigious Fairmont family, but walk inside and the feeling comes alive.
It is a giant hotel in the heart of downtown with 1037 rooms. It is a quick 10 minute stroll to Old Montreal and it is only 2 blocks away from the lively St Catherines Street. It is located right above the train station, the metro is close by, the underground city runs right below it.
The bus to the airport even stops at its front door. It has all the convenience a person visiting Montreal needs. While it isn’t the prettiest of the hotels, it does have that elite air of sophistication and elegance. We loved every minute of our stay at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth and hopefully we will get to stay there again.
It is going to ruin our reputation as an adventure couple if we keep this up! But then again, who says that an adventurer can't have a little comfort once in a while.