One of the most recognizable landmarks in Ottawa, the Fairmont Château Laurier is a National Historic Site of Canada and remains a luxury hotel today.
The Fairmont Château Laurier
Located at 1 Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa, the Château Laurier is a massive hotel with over 400 rooms. In operation since 1912, the Château remains a top destination. It’s certainly not cheap, however. Whether you’re getting a standard room or suite expect to pay upwards of $300 a night, and much more for the top rooms.
The Château offers all the amenities you’d expect out of a luxury hotel. During non-pandemic times the hotel offers childcare services for parents who need some time on their own, with a business centre set up for those who need to get some work done on their trip. Both dogs and cats are allowed to stay at the hotel for an extra fee. Pets cost $50 to bring, and they are required to be on leash at all times. There is also a classic Afternoon Tea menu available with delicious snacks and drinks.
All guests have access to the Health Club & Pool, which includes a saltwater pool that’s the only one of its kind in the city. There is also a high-end gym and even if you aren’t a guest you can buy membership passes for the fitness centre. Memberships costs $125 for a month or $960 for a full year, as of August 2021.
Finally, there is also massage therapy on offer at the Château. There are plenty of different varieties including Thai yoga and hot stone massage therapy. The massages can be from 30 minute to 90 minute sessions, with the prices ranging from $60 to $130 (as of August 2021).
History of the Hotel
The Château Laurier was built in tandem with Union Station, which sat across the street from the hotel and now serves as the Senate of Canada Building (the building ended its time as a train station decades ago). As the Grand Trunk Railway expanded across Canada in the 1910s the company wanted to make sure their passengers had luxury accommodations. In fact, when it first opened in 1912 the Château connected with the station through an underground tunnel.
The hotel’s popularity led to expansion in the 1920s. The Grand National Railway (who owned the building then) commissioned a massive new wing of rooms to be built, more or less doubling the number of guests the hotel could hold. During this time the CBC also installed radio stations on both the 7th and 8th floors of the hotel. These stations remained in operation until 2004, broadcasting in both English and French.
The Château was named a National Historic Site in 1981, before it was later sold to Canadian Pacific Hotels which rebranded to Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in 1999. As of the the last few years, the hotel has been embroiled in some debate due to the current management looking to add in a new section to the building for more long-term housing. As it would be very different from the main part of the building this has been met with public pushback.
The Château has held numerous noteworthy guests over the years. Famous visitors include Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Smokey Robinson, Shirley Temple and many more. Former Prime Minister R.B. Bennett actually lived in the Château for the entirety of his five-year term in office in the 1930s.
Noteworthy Places Nearby
In terms of location, the Château is just about perfect. Right in the heart of downtown, it takes mere minutes to walk from the hotel to spots like Parliament Hill, Confederation Square, the Senate of Canada Building, the Notre-Dame Basilica, and much more. From the hotel you can take in great views of the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River.
For those looking for a detailed tour of the area you can take a ride on one of the Hop-on, Hop-off bus tours. Otherwise, downtown is a nice area to walk and contains a high concentration of interesting attractions.
For more information visit the Château Laurier website.
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