Traditional rooms with HDTVs, Keurig coffeemakers, and stunning nature views
Historical 1930 property in a peaceful, isolated nature setting
Largest indoor pool in North America
Attractive 18-hole golf course
Four on-site restaurants ranging from fine-dining to casual
Luxury spa and health club with saunas and whirlpool
Attractive, wood-beamed lobby bar with plenty of seating
Several family- and children-focused activities
17,000 square feet of conference room space
Property-wide Wi-Fi (included with resort fee)
Some wear and tear on decor in rooms and common areas
Mandatory per-day resort fee doesn’t include all amenities
Extra fees for breakfast and valet parking
Decor could feel outdated to some, and bathrooms are small
Complaints of subpar value for on-site dining
The upscale Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is set in a little village of barely 1,000 residents, and most travelers head this way simply to experience the resort and its famed facilities, including its top-shelf golf course and record-holding indoor pool. While the 211 rooms feature several modern amenities like data ports and HDTVs, worn interiors in rooms and throughout the hotel do betray its age, which extend back to 1930. The beautifully kept grounds, views, range of recreational activities, and historic charm are big draws. For the traveler simply looking to experience Montebello, the Auberge Montebello bed-and-breakfast offers a smaller, lower-cost option closer to the main town, but it lacks any of the Fairmont's stellar features.
A historic but time-worn log cabin, with vast grounds bordering the Ottawa River
Built as a private club in 1930, the 211-room Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello looks like a giant, Old World ski chalet, with a resume of notable mentions: It’s the largest log structure in the world, was the host of the 1981 G7 summit, and houses the biggest indoor pool in North America. The cavernous, carousel-shaped lobby is particularly impressive, held up by enormous wooden beams and framed by dark wooden staircases. The massive, six-sided stone fireplace in the middle of the hall is the centerpiece of the lobby, surrounded by plenty of plaid, suede, and leather armchairs and couches for lounging. Outside, the expansive grounds reflect the area’s natural beauty, with foliage-laced walking paths on one hand, and the shore of the Ottawa River on the other, allowing for gorgeous views and plenty of recreational activity.
While there’s a historic charm to the property, guests have complained of a musty smell throughout the interiors and a dated feel to the decor. The old-fashioned carpeting and time-worn furnishings, from the lobby and event rooms to the restaurants and even the poolside lounging, show their advanced age (renovations in the common areas were planned to begin in 2016). The overall effect is rustic, but can spill into shabby territory.
Isolated location, just outside the village center
Tucked away an hour’s drive from Ottawa, the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is far removed from the hustle and bustle of a big city. As the quaint town’s largest claim to fame, the hotel itself is the main destination for travelers. Outside the property, public transport is limited, so walking or driving are the best bets, although even short cab rides can be expensive. The Parc Omega wildlife reserve, about a six-minute drive away, is popular among tourists. The village of Montebello itself, which can be reached by foot in under 15 minutes or by taxi in under five, features the Explora Geo-Rallye bike adventures and the Chocomotive artisanal chocolate shop and museum.
Transport to Ottawa International Airport is about an hour and a half by car, while Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport is a two-hour drive away. A ferry depot to the hotel is about a 10-minute drive away, and offers daily transport into Ontario.
Old-fashioned decor with modern amenities such as Keurig coffeemakers and HDTVs
Many rooms at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello have received fresh coats of paint and have generally more polish than the common spaces, but several features of their original 1930s setup remain. The decor and furnishings still reflect an old-time ambience. Dark wood trims lend a sharp contrast to the cream walls, and mismatched patterns are a common theme, as seen in the plaid throw blankets and drapes, the checked bed skirts, and the striped carpets. Rustic accents, like the wood-frame desk chair or the slab of wood on top of the air-conditioning unit, contribute to the cabin-like feel.
Dated design aside, amenities are up-to-date and include 47-inch HDTVs, Keurig coffeemakers and kettles, safes, mini-fridges, ironing equipment, and several computer data ports. Wi-Fi is included in the hotel’s mandatory resort fee, but is free for guests who are members of the chain’s Fairmont President’s Club.
Single-vanity bathrooms, with flowered wallpaper and peach-pink tiles, are small, but all have fixed showerheads with shower/tub combos. They also feature hairdryers and the Fairmont brand’s standard Le Labo bath products.
The 205 square-foot Fairmont Rooms are available with king, queen, or double beds, while Deluxe and Signature rooms offer more space at 305 square feet and are tucked in more private corners of the hotel. Fairmont and Deluxe Rooms can come with river or garden views, though some can be far removed from the pool areas. The Jacuzzi Suite features a hot tub in the bedroom and a separate living room. Accessible Fairmont rooms are available upon request.
Mandatory resort fee for the pool, golf course, and other amenities
The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello has an extensive list of features that have made it a destination unto itself, but several require a mandatory, per-night, per-room resort fee, while other additional fees can also creep in.
While the hotel’s resort fee covers access to the Health Club, which includes an indoor gym; an indoor pool; an indoor whirlpool; and two dry saunas, spa services must be paid for separately. Treatments include standard facials and customized massages, as well as add-on baths and couples’ packages.
The resort fee includes access to several of the hotel’s year-round activities, including nature walks and indoor racquet sports. During the summer, additional sports like fishing, croquet and horseshoes, canoeing and kayaking, and biking are available. Winter includes ice skating, ice hockey, and skiing. However, the resort fee doesn’t cover everything; horseback rides, boat tours, and the main golf course, for example, are add-on purchases.
The hotel places notable emphasis on catering to its many visiting families. A game room, supervised films, and treasure hunts are offered for children, while daily family walks and mini-golfing sessions are part of the hotel’s buffet of outdoor activities. Babysitting and pet services are also available, as are additional amenities like baby accessories, connecting rooms, and rollaway beds.
The hotel features over 17,000 square feet of meeting space along with 20 conference rooms, some of them occupying entire buildings of their own on the hotel property. Each can be reserved with an event technology concierge service to facilitate planning and execution of business events, and special incentives are offered for group bookings. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property as part of the hotel's mandatory fee.
Weddings (or parties) at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello are all-inclusive events, with the hotel covering everything from guest accommodations to catering, and a honeymoon package for personalized post-wedding plans. Each hotel booking also includes one self-service parking spot.
Several dining options including classic French dishes, Sunday brunch, and barbecue
The hotel features four main on-site dining options, not counting room service. The upscale Aux Chantignoles features classic French cuisine, from escargot to roast prime rib, in a white table-clothed setting with postcard-like garden views. A vegan menu is also offered. Aux Chantignoles also does double duty as the hotel’s daily breakfast buffet and Sunday brunch venue -- though neither are included in room rates.
For more casual fare, Mulligan’s Bar offers daytime terrace dining with a bistro-style menu and drinks on the edge of the hotel’s golfing green, while Seigneurie Bar offers similar food, but is open for dinner as well. Guests can also opt for the reservations-required Le Riverain and Barbecue on the hotel terrace, for a daytime French-Canadian menu of poutines and sandwiches, and a popular evening barbecue during summer months.
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