Le Château Frontenac, an icon of Quebec City‘s history and architecture, always figures prominently in photographs of the city’s skyline. Its multiple towers and turrets and its impressive setting atop Cap Diamant also tell the story of the city’s layered colonial past. Here’s an inside peek into the past and present of the most photographed hotel in the world.
Designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hotel was designed in the 19th century in a series of regal château-style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company, which encouraged travel during the railway boom by creating luxury accommodations for wealthy tourists. Doors officially opened in 1893, and several sections were added later, including the central tower in 1924.
Named after Count of Frontenac Louis de Buade, governor of New France 1672–1682 and 1689–1698, the hotel is near the historic Citadelle, Quebec City’s primary military base. Frontenac may not the tallest building around, but its setting on Cap Diamant—177 feet (54 meters) high—offers the most stunning views of the nearby Saint Lawrence River and features prominently in the city’s skyline.
Frontenac’s coat-of-arms can be seen on the hotel’s entry arch as well as at other points within the building, and a 300-year-old stone bearing the Cross of Malta emblem is also among the vaulted lobby’s interior.
After a series of restorations and a multi-million-dollar renaissance project, 18 floors now contain over 600 rooms. When Queen Elizabeth II is in town, she stays in the Château’s royal suite, also where her parents stayed. Other regal guests include Princess Grace of Monaco and Prince Andrew, along with celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Angelina Jolie.
Château Frontenac also has a huge historical legacy. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Mackenzie King planned the Invasion of Normandy here, and the Fathers of Confederation also gathered here to discuss unifying the British North American colonies that would later become Canada.
The Frontenac is an important architectural and historical landmark not only for Quebec but also the entire country. Guided tours of the hotel are available and offer deeper insights into the Frontenac’s past, present, and future.
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. The hotel guarantees guests will “feel an elegant touch of historic Europe” in each room.