Opening onto snow-capped peaks and hidden behind forests of pine, the image in your head of Canada’s historic hotels may not be that far off from reality. These charming Canadian château hotels have hosted visiting royalty–but perhaps it’s time to make your castle dreams come true by staying at one.
Most of these former Canadian Pacific hotels were built around the turn of the century and served as lodging close to city transportation hubs or to lure visitors to undiscovered corners coast-to-coast to enjoy its stunning scenery. Meticulously maintained or restored over the years, these stunning Canadian castle hotels are still finding their way into the hearts of visitors from here and abroad.
Fairmont Château Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Alberta
The Fairmont Château Lake Louise could easily pass for a Canadian castle — or a princely palace. Nestled into the Victoria Glacier and overlooking the icy crystal waters of Lake Louise, the hotel was built towards the end of the 19th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Hiking, fishing and skiing have long been popular with guests at the Château Lake Louise, the birthplace of Canadian Mountaineering. They have been joined by a myriad of modern options including snowboarding and river rafting. The interior is as palatial and lavish as the exterior architecture and surrounding landscape. A trip to the Château Lake Louise will make you feel like members of Canadian royalty.
Royal Guests: King Edward VIII, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan.
Fairmont Château Frontenac
Quebec City, Quebec
Swung inside the fortified walls of Old Quebec City, Château Frontenac is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a landmark site of this city and our country. Another outpost of the Canadian Pacific Railway, this Canadian castle hotel was intended to woo travellers for a stopover in Quebec City. How could they resist? The Chateau is every part a castle and you’ll likely wake up thinking you’ve arrived in Europe with views over the old fortifications and the St. Lawrence River. Romantic cobblestone alleys, winding stairwells and the sound of music spilling out of shuttered windows welcome visitors to a slice of France in Canada!
Royal Guests: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Princess Grace of Monaco, Chiang-Kai-Shek, Charles de Gaulle, Ronald Reagan, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
Fairmont Château Laurier
With all the magnificence of a French Château, it’s no wonder that the Fairmont Château Laurier is frequently mistaken for the “third chamber of Parliament” with its location just across from Parliament Hill. The building is made up of limestone, granite, and Italian marble masonry complete with turret rooms and a beautiful copper roof. Outside the door of this early 20th-century masterpiece, you’ll find the Rideau Canal, the world’s longest ice skating rink in the winter as well as miles of paths for biking and running during the warmer months.
Royal Guests: Pierre Trudeau, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, The King and Queen of Siam, U.S. President Hoover.
Fairmont Château Montebello
Does it really get much more Canadiana than a giant wooden castle built out of over 10,000 Canadian red cedar logs? The Fairmont Château Montebello, at the halfway point between Ottawa and Montreal, was inspired by similar castles in the Swiss Alps and has turned Montebello into a veritable “Lucerne-in-Quebec”. These accommodations might have a rustic touch, but the Château could hardly be called “roughing it”. You can swim laps in the pool or try the 18-hole golf course. Come winter, indulge in the ultimate Canadian royal activity: dogsledding.
Royal guests: Hosts of the G7 International Economic Summit (Ronald Reagan, François Mitterand, Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Thatcher) as well as President Bush, President Calderon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Bess, as the Bessborough Hotel is affectionately called by locals, has been around since the early decades of the 20th century, built and designed in the same famous Canadian castle hotel style of other Canadian National Railway hotels before passing through to the hands of CP. Similarly, The Bess is a landmark, set on the banks of the river and surrounded by five acres of Elizabethan gardens where one can still play a game of croquet or catch one of their numerous community events. Once inside, you can waltz away in the Adam Ballroom, restored to all its swinging Twenties glory. The hotel has been tastefully redecorated while maintaining that unique exterior which brought this humble city onto the map in the heyday of railroad travel.
Royal Guests: The Bess is keeping her guest list a bit of a secret, but we’re guessing anyone who is anyone visiting Saskatoon is staying here.
Fairmont Royal York
The Fairmont Royal York was built to be the most opulent hotel of its day in Canada. It was once the tallest building in the British Commonwealth with 28 floors reached by a highly ornamented ten passenger elevator. The hand painted ceilings are still here, looming above crystal chandeliers, ornate furnishings and dazzling gold details. Located on the rooftop are the Honeymoon Suite, the Royal Sweet and the V.I. Bee Suite, housing the Royal York honeybees as they pollinate the in-house garden which provides herbs, veggies and honey to the nine on-site restaurants. Looking for a different kind of Queen? Ride up Elevator Number 9 to follow in the footsteps of Her Majesty up to the Royal Suite on the 16th floor, her home-away-from-home in Toronto.
Royal Guests: Ronald Reagan, James Brown and Tony Bennett, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Built to compete with CN’s Hotel Nova Scotian, The Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites was considered one of the first modern hotels to come to Nova Scotia largest city. Commanding the sixteen acres of Halifax’s Public Gardens, The Lord Nelson toes the line between old-school British luxury and Maritime charm. A recent renovation brings a breath of fresh air and modernity to this 85-year-old Halifax landmark by the way of Nespresso machines, Aveda bath products and pillowtop mattresses made for a King or Queen.
Royal Guests: Nova Scotian darling Anne Murray, The Rolling Stones, the White Stripes, Jerry Seinfeld, and Paul McCartney.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is easily one the most recognizable Canadian castle hotel and a National Historic Site. It is nestled into the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park, just a stone’s throw from Bow Falls and the thermal springs that initially brought visitors to this once remote area. The hotel is lined with turrets and dormers, giving it that distinctive “castle” feel, echoed in the plush rooms. The hotel is reputed to be haunted by a bride who lost her life falling down one of the hotel’s sumptuous staircases, so beware the ballrooms at night, where she is said to perform her sad dance.
Royal Guests: Marilyn Monroe, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Benny Goodman, Winston Churchill, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson, Robin Williams.
Fairmont Empress Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
The Fairmont Empress is about as “Royal” as it gets. This elegant hotel has been meticulously restored so it glimmers brightly alongside the beauty of Victoria. During a 1989 restoration, a Tiffany-style stained glass roof was discovered behind some wood and today it shines its multi coloured sunlit beams into the marble foyer. A 1919 visit from Edward the Prince of Wales saw him waltzing until dawn with some lucky ladies of the local population. Later in 1939, a dashingly young King George VI and Queen Elizabeth graced these hallowed hotel halls when they embarked on their Canadian Royal Tour, marking the first visit by a reigning monarch to Victoria. The British Royals are not the Empress’ only fans however–Hollywood visitors can also be counted as the Empress’ many admirers.
Royal Visitors: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Camilla, the current Emperor and Empress of Japan, Rita Hayworth, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Roger Moore, Harrison Ford, and Shirley Temple.
This article originally appeared on Room5 US.