The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada claims to be the most photographed hotel in the world, but it is impossible to quantify the claim in this time of ubiquitous cameras, smartphones, and social media. The hotel, which is also known as Frontenac Castle or the Chateau Frontenac celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018. An estimated 300,000 people spend at least one night in the 611 rooms annually while millions more visit as tourists.
The Château Frontenac is located in Old Quebec’s Upper Town. It sits on a raised mass of land overlooking the Saint Lawrence River and is one of the most notable features of Quebec City, the provincial capital of Quebec. The building was declared a National Historic site in 1981 because of its role in the history of the country. The Château Haldimand Hotel initially occupied the site before it was demolished to pave way for the current complex.
The Château Frontenac was opened on December 18, 1893. It was named for the flamboyant, colorful, luxury-loving Louis de Buade who was the governor of the colony of New France from 1672 to 1698. It was designed by American architect Bruce Price and constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage commuters to use the railway service.
The Château Frontenac hosts 611 guest rooms of which eight were renovated into themed executive suites. Some suites are themed to presidents and prime ministers that have visited the facility such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, former French President Charles de Gaulle, and Queen Elizabeth II. Apart from the world leaders, some suites are themed to Celine Dion, Alfred Hitchcock, and William Cornelius Van Horne. Restaurants and food-based services occupy several rooms in the complex, and as of 2018 the Champlain, Bistro Le Sam, and the 1608 Wine and Cheese bar operated catering services. The hotel complex supports the sustainable bee program by hosting four queen honeybees at the rooftop garden. The harvested honey is served to tourists and guests of the restaurants.
The earliest achievement of the hotel was its grand opening on December 18, 1893. After completion, it became the landmark of Quebec and was the tallest building in the city from 1924 to 1930. Today it is the city's 9th tallest building.
During the Second World War, the Château Frontenac hosted two key conferences on military strategies. Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King hosted the first in August 1943 that was attended by Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt. Throughout the meeting, the Canadian Prime Minister played a ceremonial role. In September 1944, the leaders met again to discuss the demilitarization of Germany.
A few years ago, a Korean postcard was discovered stuck between two floors during a routine renovation. The note dated back to the Second World War and was written by a soldier who had deployed to the frontline asking his girlfriend to wait for him. The management of the hotel tried to establish the source or recipient of the postcard but was unsuccessful. Today, the card is open for public viewing in the beautiful old brass check mailbox in the lobby. It inspired the production of the Korean television film, “Goblin ” and the number of Korean tourists visiting the hotel has since increased fivefold.