What Travel Writers Say


Ottawa, Ontario - Fairmont Château Laurier

Review by Mike Keenan

Chateau Laurier Hotel, photo by Fairmont

Chateau Laurier Hotel, photo courtesy Fairmont

Our Room

Amenities: We occupy Suite 358, the Karsh Suite, rented like any other room in the hotel, but the price tag ($2,800 a night) sets it far apart. With its Sussex and Wellington address, the Karsh Suite appeals to both diplomats and VIP business travellers. A black and white private photo gallery (gifted by Karsh's wife, Estrellita who also supplied the frames) includes portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Karsh, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, George Bernard Shaw, Barbara Ann Scott, Shirley Tabb, Grey Owl and our favourite ballerina, Karen Kain. Our room is beautiful. Staying here is to steep oneself in history, reverting to magical times.

Bathroom: A modern whirlpool tub is accented with a marble-lined shower exhibiting three tiers of jets.

Decor: The Fairmont Château Laurier is a magnificent limestone edifice with turrets and masonry reminiscent of a French château. The design combines the French Renaissance style with the neo-Gothic vertical lines of the nearby Parliament Buildings. The builders used granite blocks, white Italian marble, light buff Indiana limestone and a distinctive copper roof. Furnished with antiques and a travertine marble staircase with brass railing, Czechoslovakian crystal and Sèvres vases, the regal Château changed the face of downtown Ottawa.

In our spacious, multi-room suite, fine wood and plaster mouldings accent each room and surround the living room fireplace. The kitchen is outfitted with its original leather floor.

Hotel Features & History:  Fairmont Château Laurier features 426 guest rooms, including 33 luxury suites. Guests staying in Ottawa, seeking exclusivity and the ultimate in luxury will truly enjoy staying in a Fairmont Gold room or suite. Located on a private floor, Fairmont Gold accommodation in downtown Ottawa has been described as a 'hotel within a hotel'.

Suite 358, the Karsh Suite - Legendary photographer, Yousuf Karsh and his wife, Estrellita, lived for 18 years on site. The hotel recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. With the Parliament Buildings close by, Karsh enjoyed access to international celebrities and world leaders, particularly after his reputation skyrocketed with the celebrated 1941 photo of “British Bulldog” Winston Churchill, reportedly the most reproduced photograph in portrait history.

Liberal Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier, was an early supporter of the hotel, seeing it as an opportunity to add prestige to Canada’s capital. However, he threatened not to sign the guest registry for the hotel’s opening, unhappy with the nose on his bust, sculpted in France for the occasion. It was repaired to his liking, and remains impressively exhibited in the main foyer amidst the elaborate and original oak woodwork.

An art deco swimming pool with $500,000 in recent upgrades, now part of the Health Club, is the centerpiece of the spa, built with pale pink Tennessee marble walls and dark green marble pillars. With a Greek fountain at one end, visitors relax on chaises lounges warmed by overhead brass lamps.

The original building cost $2 million, and the 306 rooms, priced at $2 per night, were among the first hotel rooms to offer indoor plumbing. CBC Radio broadcast from Fairmont Château Laurier’s seventh floor for 80 years, until moving to their new location on Sparks Street.

Rooms here feature: Air conditioning with individual climate control, Alarm clock-radio, Bathrobes, Keurig coffee makers with complimentary coffee and tea, Kettle, Hair dryer, Iron & ironing board, In-room refreshment centre (surcharge), Television with “On Command” system which enables guests to: Watch newly released blockbuster movies (between $10 & $15 plus tax per movie), View their account balance and check messages, Check-out from the room.

Ottawa, Canada's Capital City (1938)

Rick Mercer At The Château Laurier

Hotel Activities:  The Rideau Canal offers miles of bicycle and inline skating paths and the world's longest skating rink just outside our door. In addition, the nearby Gatineau Hills offer great hiking, biking and canoeing in the summer, as well as abundant cross-country ski trails and excellent downhill thrills each winter.

Zoes, Château Laurier Hotel, photo by Fairmont Lobby, Château Laurier Hotel Laurier Bust, Lobby, Château Laurier Hotel, photo by Mike Keenan Karsh Suite,  Château Laurier exteriore, photo by Mike Keenan

Spa: The hotel offers an in-door pool and exercise room open daily. Hours of Operation: Pool and change room access available Monday to Sunday: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Fitness Room access available 24 hours for registered guests.

Holtz Spa is located one block from Fairmont Château Laurier. For information or to make an appointment, please visit their website www.holtzspa.ca or contact the Concierge.

changing of the guards Rideau Canal


Breakfast: Buffet until 10:30 a.m. & à la carte, Sunday Brunch seating's - between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Reservations required

Lunch:  We enjoyed the tea service in Zoe's Lounge, a beautiful glass enclosed dining area on the main floor. The atmosphere was wonderful.

Supper: Wilfrid's is an award-winning restaurant that offers a wide selection of culinary creations. The Executive Chef and his team are famous for their superb selection of regional Canadian cuisine. This beautiful dining room offers wonderful views of the Parliament Buildings and the Rideau Locks.

Drinks: Zoe's Lounge offers its guests relaxing and elegant surroundings, perfect to enjoy the cocktail hour or evening entertainment.

Service:  One is treated royally by a well-trained staff.

Nearby Attractions: The hotel is located in the heart of Canada's capital next door to the Parliament Buildings.

Room Cost: $2800 per diem which will actually increase in the New Year due to hotel renovations!

Room Tip or Suggestion: Try for an upgrade to the concierge (Gold) level.

Address & Contact: 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N8S7, 613 241 1414

Hotel Website:  http://www.fairmont.com/laurier-ottawa/

Proviso:  I was a guest of the Château Laurier Hotel; however, editorial material above is solely my own and not reviewed by my host.
Ottawa Citixen Newspaper

Gold Level Suite, Château Laurier Hotel, photo by Fairmont Hemmingway cover, photo by Mike Keenan Karsh Suite, Château Laurier Hotel, photo by Fairmont Standard Room, Château Laurier Hotel, photo by Fairmont

Fairmont Château Laurier

Profile of Photographer Yousuf Karsh

Mike Keenan is a travel columnist for Troy Media. He produces a travel podcast - http://whattravelwriterssay.libsyn.com/ accessible on iTunes and Stitcher Radio and has been published in every major newspaper across Canada including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun. He has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City, Seniors Review and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. With hundreds of reviews, photos and helpful votes, he has earned Trip Advisor's "Top Contributor Badge" and is considered an "Expert" in both Hotels and Restaurant reviews. Mike posts photos to Pinterest where he has a following of five thousand viewers.

Château Laurier, Ottawa from Rideau Locks

Château Laurier, Ottawa from Rideau Locks

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan
Biltmore Estate

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