Q: I was so impressed with Quebec City, I plan to go there again next February during the Winter carnival. I have already made flight reservations but I am still looking to book a hotel inside the Old Quebec. Chateau Frontenac is one possibility but I do see some negative reviews. I would like your hotel recommendations in case you know of, which would give me a plesant stay and nice view of the St. Lawrence. Of course convenience would help because this time I am not going to drive around but staying inside the city for my entire stay over there. – Kee
A: Lucky you! Quebec City is a gorgeous place, no matter what season you are there, but the city pulls out all the stops for their Carnaval (Jan. 28 to Feb. 13 this year).
Most of the activities take place on the Plains of Abraham, a historic battlefield that has been turned into a city park. So you can easily stay in either Upper Quebec and enjoy the festivities without having a car.
The first decision that any visitor to Quebec City needs to make concerns the Chateau Frontenac. The Victorian hotel, built in 1893 by the Canadian Pacific Railway to attract rail guests to Quebec City, dominates the Vieux Quebec skyline. We stayed there during our fall trip to Quebec City and were glad that we did, even though we felt the price was a little high for the size of the room. In the end, it’s hard to beat the location and the atmosphere (although you can certainly enjoy the Chateau Frontenac by getting a drink in one of the hotel bars overlooking the St. Lawrence or by taking a tour).
If you do decide to stay at the Chateau Frontenac, ask for a room overlooking the park next door as many of those rooms have a view of the river without the higher price of a riverview room. You should also join the free Fairmont President’s Club before you go so you can use the Club’s private check-in and have free internet during your stay.
Other options in Upper Quebec that look interesting (there are some fab hotels in Lower Town, but I’m skipping those as Kee specifically requested info on Vieux Quebec).
Auberge de la Place d’Armes has an excellent location in old Quebec, especially if you don’t have a car. Your rate includes breakfast and there’s free wi-fi. It was recently listed on National Geographic Traveler’s recommended hotel list and I trust their judgment.
If you don’t mind a larger chain hotel, the Loews Le Concorde Hotel is right off the Plains of Abraham and has views of the river and Vieux Quebec from some rooms and from its revolving restaurant/bar upstairs. It’s listed as an option on both Hotwire and Priceline, which means you might be able to get 4-star luxury for a cheaper price (I’m a fan of these bidding sites, so this might be my choice if I was planning a trip).
Hotel Clarendon, Quebec City’s oldest hotel, comes highly recommended by the Quebec experts on Fodors.com’s Canadian forums (and gets plenty of love on TripAdvisor as well). You might not get a view here, but it’s within walking distance of the Plains of Abraham.
Maison du Fort gets high rankings on TripAdvisor and has a great location on a quieter Vieux Quebec street. If you like smaller hotels and don’t mind cats (the owner has two and there’s cat figurines around the hotel, this could be a cozy option.
If you really want a one-of-a-kind Quebec winter adventure, you want to book a room at Hotel de Glace – the ice hotel that opens in Quebec every winter (this winter the dates are Jan. 7 through March 27, 2011). While you won’t be lounging around in a hotel bathrobe (the hotel’s info guide recommends at least three layers, as well as hats and gloves), the temperatures in the rooms range from 23 to 27 degrees F, no matter how cold it gets outside. At night, you use sleepings bags that are placed on top of a mattress and wooden base that shield you from the ice blocks below and some rooms even have fireplaces and spa services (most guests shower and eat breakfast at the Sheraton Four Points nearby).
A one-night stay in the Hotel de Glace costs $235 CAD (there’s additional fees on the weekends). Keep in mind that it’s not in the Quebec city center; to get there, you have to go to Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, about 23 miles from Quebec City. Even though I hate cold weather with a passion, I’d give it a try, just for the experience.
Do you have other Quebec City hotel recommendations for Kee? If so, tell us in the comments!