By Julia M. Bayly
When it comes to a visit to Montreal, getting there can be half the fun.
On a recent trip with my friend Kim, getting to that city from Fort Kent, Maine, meant a drive to Quebec City followed by a three-hour ride on VIA Rail into Montreal.
Travel by train is just plain fun—and when it’s business class on VIA, it’s like your own rolling magic carpet ride into the city. It’s the ideal way to avoid the stress of driving in traffic.
The trip includes a three-course, gourmet meal with wine. What’s not to love about that?
Once we’d arrived at the train station, we did not have far to go to reach the hotel where we’d be staying: Below the station is the city’s landmark Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth.
As it happened, not only were we placed in a massive corner suite, but that suite was located just down the hall from the room made famous by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace where the song “Give Peace a Chance” was recorded.
For Kim, it was like arriving at Mecca when Joanne Papineau, the Queen Elizabeth’s media liaison, took the time to give us a quick tour of that room.
“John and Yoko gave 150 interviews a day here in this room,” Papineau said. “The story is during one of those a rabbi said, ‘John, you have got to give peace a chance,’ and that’s where the song came from.”
The room is very much now as it was during Lennon’s stay late May and early June of 1969. The bed is still there and numerous photos of the famous couple and their equally famous guests—including Timothy Leary and Tommy Smothers—line the walls next to gold records.
Papineau even brought along the original hotel log covering those days which included hand-written entries covering security matters and the daily comings and goings in and out of the room.
Kim was overjoyed with the chance to get so close to one of her musical idols.
I, on the other hand, found my own personal heaven 17-floors down in the hotel’s Boutique Gourmandise where manager Carole Simard serves up amazing pastries and hand-made truffles daily. I thought I had died and woken up in Chocolate Nirvana after sampling one of the confections and the shop’s signature chocolate mousse cake.
From the lobby it’s a quick walk back down to the train station and access to Montreal’s famed underground city—a network of thousands of boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
Back above ground in fresh air, the hotel is easy walking distance to museums, galleries, shops and more restaurants.
Our getaway lasted three days, which was enough time to get a taste—literally and figuratively—of the city. But with the ease of getting there thanks to VIA, a longer visit is definitely on my to-do list.
- The train station serves VIA Rail and Amtrak
- 100 of the hotel’s 1,037 rooms are suites
- The hotel is rated AAA Four Diamond
- Each guestroom offers individual climate control
- Guestrooms are equipped with a coffee/tea maker and stocked with complimentary coffee and tea
- High speed Internet access is available
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth
900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W.
Canada H3B 4A5
-Photo Credits: Door plaque by Julia M. Bayly; remainder courtesy Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.