I've got a sizeable soft spot for Fairmont Le Château Montebello. My hubby and I went for the first time in the winter of 2015, and I fell so in love with the place that this winter I went back twice. From the impeccable, friendly service to the rustic ambiance, it truly feels like a home away from home.
I'd never been to this beautiful spot in the warmer months, so I put it at the top of my summer to do list. Because seriously:
Take an hour's drive east along the banks of the Ottawa River and you'll arrive in the village of Montebello, home to the world's biggest long cabin. Built in 1930 as a private club, Château Montebello has hosted countless celebrities, royalty, and politicians.
I'm talking Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Margaret Thatcher, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Ronald Regan, the Prince of Wales, and Grace Kelly (aka Princess Grace of Monaco).
Here's a shot of the hotel from way back in 1930:
Hardly anything has changed except for the removal of the window awnings when central air was installed. All the logs are original and are meticulously maintained inside and out.
You'd think an immaculate place with a such a rich history would risk being stuffy, but not so: on every single visit the entire staff has been warm and welcoming to lil old me and everyone else in sight.
They have a hotel dog named Bello who works the front lobby; families and couples cluster around the six-story fireplace playing cards and boardgames; and it's totally okay to pad around in your slippers.
Here's Bello, the retired guide dog who lives at Montebello:
So what's there to do at Montebello? In the summertime you'll find tennis, squash, canoeing, kayaking, mini golf, trail running, hiking, swimming, bike rentals, volleyball, badminton, croquet, and guided tours of the neighbouring Manoir Papineau. And that's included in the $25 resort fee. This is *not* one of those hotels that tacks on a nightly fee that only gives you wifi. Montebello gives you wifi plus all those other goodies!
If you want to splash out for a little something extra, there's a golf course, Canada's only Land Rover off-road driving experience, and an absolutely beautiful spa.
Hubby and I checked into the Regan Suite (wowee!) and discovered a lovely welcome gift from Chef Jean-François plus a full supply of my favourite Le Labo toiletries:
We hiked the trails (bring bug spray!), took in the views along the river, checked out Château Montebello's sizeable on-site marina, splashed in the pool, and watched other guests fish at the river's edge. Doesn't get much better than that!
We also toured the Manoir Papineau (Parks Canada doesn't allow pics inside, sorry about that), walked to town to visit local chocolatier ChocoMotive (chocolate-covered everything!), relaxed at the spa.
Let me talk about the spa for a minute. It's stunningly beautiful, and every treatment (even as a day guest) gets you a locker with use of a robe and flip flops, plus access to the pool, health club, and spa lounge. The spa lounge is a magical place complete with cookies, citrus-infused water, bottomless tea, and comfy lounge chairs each with their own snuggly blanket.
I had a massage with registered massage therapist Mélissa, who was an absolute gem. She asked great questions before the treatment (any injuries, recurring tightness, desired pressure), and checked in with me throughout to make sure I was happy. Top notch and I will definitely book again on my next trip.
For dinner, hubby and I indulged in a delicious meal at the newly renovated Seigneurie Bar. Get the burger! I think I've ordered this burger every time I've been to Montebello and it never disappoints: an all-beef patty topped with cheddar, pancetta, a Montreal pickle, and all the fixins on a brioche bun.
And for the love of god, upgrade your fries to poutine! The curds were so fresh they were still squeaky, which is a rare feat indeed. Especially at a hotel. I felt like I was going to bust after that meal, but hey, we hiked so it's all good.
The next morning it was time for more eating, so we indulged in breakfast in the stunning Aux Chantignoles dining room:
We opted out of the massive brunch they're famous for and went for the "mini brunch" instead (half the price so somethi.
Maple butter crêpes, scrambled eggs, french toast, an omelette station, roasted potatoes, Québecois beans, heaps of bacon, breakfast sausage, smoked salmon, cheese platters, smoothies, yogurt, parfait, mueseli, bagels, muffins, danish, croissants, toast, oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, fresh juice, and bottomless tea and coffee.
Like I said, mini brunch.
After our light meal it was time to hit the trails again...
...then the pool, then the fireplace. It's the Montebello version of wash, rinse, repeat. ;)
The next day we reluctantly packed up and headed home, but not before another dip in the pool. We both agreed it felt like we'd been away much longer than two nights. Time kinda stops at Montebello, which is quite possibly the best feature of the place.
Now, before you go thinking that you can't manage a trip to Montebello because it's too pricey, I've got news for you. A stay can be much more affordable than you might think, so check out my tips to get the most out of your visit (at the bottom of the article).
But you know I'm a giveaway girl, so...
win a trip to montebello!
This might be one of my all-time favourite giveaways. I'm sending one lucky winner and a guest to Château Montebello!! This prize includes overnight accommodation in the world's biggest log cabin, all seasonal activities, and that amazing breakfast for two. The package is valued at $384 so get in on it!
A couple of things:
1. This prize package is valid for Sunday-Thursday stays.
2. The package is not redeemable during the Christmas holidays or on long weekend Sundays.
3. Excluding those holidays, the prize is redeemable anytime until December 31, 2017.
Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below and complete as many actions as you like! With each action, your name goes into the hat again to up your chances of winning. This time I've given you more entry options than ever before so pick as many as you like and best of luck. I'll announce a winner next Friday July 22.