You may be surprised by the number of castle-like hotels in Canada. Many of the country’s most enchanting accommodations were former railway hotels. Built in the late 19th century and echoing “the romance of European citadels,” the buildings were nicknamed Castles of the North. Now primarily owned by Fairmont, here are 10 such properties in Canada that still accommodate guests.
Located in downtown Ottawa with views of Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River, Château Laurier was designed in a French Gothic Château style to complement the adjacent Parliament buildings. Designated a National Historic Site in 1980, it features 426 guest rooms, including 33 luxurious suites. It’s home to a French Renaissance style-ballroom, built in 1912, plus an exquisite drawing room. Château Laurier is in the best position for exploring Canada’s capital city.
Banff Springs Hotel is a picturesque former railway hotel in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Banff National Park. Surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, it overlooks the small mountainside town. The Scottish Baronial-style building first opened to the public in 1888. Fairmont Banff Springs houses 764 guest rooms and suites, Willow Stream Spa, many dining options, two ballrooms (which have entertained Marilyn Monroe and Fred Astaire), and the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course.
Nestled between Ottawa and Montreal and on the border with Ontario, Fairmont Le Château Montebello is not your average-looking castle. In fact, it’s the world’s largest log cabin! The hotel is famed for its “rustic yet luxurious accommodations, excellent service and refined gastronomy.” It was historically a private club that hosted many visiting celebrities, royal family members and politicians. The hotel is situated on a 65,000-acre forested sanctuary on the Ottawa River.
Delta Bessborough (known locally as The Bess) is a 10-story hotel and historical landmark in downtown Saskatoon. The Canadian National Railway built the castle between 1928 and 1932, and it’s in a similar château style to other railway hotels. The hotel, surrounded by five acres of Elizabethan gardens, also features the Garden Court Café—the only patio in Saskatoon with a water view. There is also a Japanese restaurant on-site, plus an indoor pool and a ballroom.
Located in Quebec’s Charlevoix region, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu offers sweeping views of the Saint Lawrence River. The castle underwent a $140 million renovation in 1998, which included expanding the rooms from 377 to 405 and constructing a ballroom with a capacity for 1,000 guests. Activities at Richelieu include dining at four restaurants, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter, and whale watching and hiking in summer. It’s home to a 27-hole golf course and will host the 44th G7 Summit in 2018.
Fairmont Empress is Vancouver Island’s most iconic hotel and a National Historic Site. It’s also the island’s largest convention and events destination. The Edwardian château-style castle sits on Victoria’s Inner Harbour and has 464 rooms, its own Willow Stream Spa, several bar and restaurant options, and is home to the world famous Tea at the Empress. Everyone from royalty to traveling dignitaries has enjoyed afternoon tea in Fairmont Empress’ Lobby Lounge.
Fairmont Palliser, named after Captain John Palliser, who explored the region in the 1850s, is the oldest and most luxurious hotel in Calgary. Its architecture is Edwardian Commercial style, while the lobby is Renaissance Revival. The hotel’s website states that architect Lawrence Goth adopted a “Chicago look, with straight geometric lines resembling the innumerable prairie grain elevators found in Alberta.” Fairmont Palliser has the most prestigious address in downtown Calgary.
Château Frontenac is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. It sits high in fortified Old Quebec and dominates the Quebec City skyline. Named after the Count of Frontenac, Louis de Baude, who was a former governor of the New France colony, the National Historic Site has Saint Lawrence River views from many of its 611 rooms, spread over 18 floors. The hotel guarantees guests will “feel an elegant touch of historic Europe” in each room.
Located directly on Lake Louise’s shores in Banff National Park, Château Lake Louise is globally recognized for its responsible tourism endeavors. It’s a year-round luxurious mountain resort, as it offers world-class skiing in winter and incredible hiking and canoe activities in the summertime. The 552-roomed hotel has everything you could possibly need, including seven delicious restaurants and lounges, a spa, retail stores, and a summer kid’s camp.
Another Fairmont hotel, Hotel Macdonald is by no means any less luxurious. The château-style property is an Edmonton landmark and overlooks North America’s largest urban parkway: the North Saskatchewan River Valley. People have been visiting Hotel Macdonald for weddings, business trips, and romantic getaways since 1915. It also isn’t a visit to the hotel without saying hello to Smudge, a yellow labrador and Hotel Macdonald’s Canine Ambassador.