In marvellous Montreal, a très grand merci, to Fairmont Hotels for our regal Queen Elizabeth for FREE. I believe what they say in français is “gratuit”.
Who knew that Montreal had it’s own garment district? The area is called Chabanel, as is the street that most of the buildings with the best shops are on. We started out at number 555. There was an old gent sitting outside the building on a chair, distributing maps of that building, showing which shops were open, their hours, the floor they were on (of eleven or twelve) and what kind of sales they had going on. Magnifique!
My sister and I, on a girls weekend away, couldn’t believe our luck. We had so much fun buying fantastic articles of clothing for us and for gifts, and everything at a great price, too (and then there was the advantageous exchange rate to boot, Mon Dieu!), that we ran out of time and never even made it to another building. No regrets. Our arms were full when we returned to the hotel by taxi, completely laden with shopping bags.
I had no idea about this area until I asked the receptionist who checked us in if there was any place in particular that she would recommend for good shopping. Then she whispered the magic word, “Chabanel”. The timing couldn’t have been better; this was the last weekend in November, and there were huge sales going on in many boutiques there.
The shopping tip was far from the only thing that we loved about the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. Our junior suite was perfect for the two of us, with separate rooms and beds, not only comfortable but even a little luxurious. In the mornings we found a superb array of breakfast and brunch fare on the buffet, and the best wait staff I’ve ever encountered in any hotel. Everybody was professional, courteous, friendly and engaged with their clients. We also loved their sense of humor and had a lot of good laughs and fun.
And all this for free! Can you believe it? I couldn’t. But it’s true, and I got this wonderful weekend away with a Fairmont Signature Visa credit card. I received certificates for two nights’ hotel stay free, a free room upgrade if available (it was), and complimentary breakfast for two guests, for two days. I am very sad to report though, that this card was recently discontinued (August 15, 2017). 😦
My sister and I in front of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral
Also, for the record, I have to give Fairmont my most heartfelt thank you for extending my certificates an extra 30 days beyond their expiration date. I had lost my mother, the most precious person on the planet to me, earlier in the year, and I completely forgot about such unimportant things as free hotel stays or anything at all to do with travel, for that matter, for quite a while. Many months later, when my sister and I realized a weekend away together would do us both some good, I remembered the certificates. When I found them, and saw that it was too late to use them, I decided to call Fairmont’s Customer Service. I got connected to a very kind someone, who made the necessary changes in my records, and allowed me to use all of my certificates, even if a little bit late. I was deeply moved by this generous flexibility.
Nowadays we so often hear about what goes wrong when people travel, but very rarely do enough of us give praise to those businesses whose employees make things go more than right for us. Fairmont is one of those traveler-friendly and respectful companies, and I really admire them for it. Kudos!
I had never stayed at the Queen Elizabeth before, and was very happy with my choice. I look forward to going back someday. It’s in a very user-friendly practical location, and you can walk to many of Montreal’s sites from here as well. The picture I put on the post is of the Notre Dame Basilica, small, but very pretty, and walking distance from the hotel. Our favorite meal was also enjoyed nearby, a dinner right across the street from the Queen Elizabeth, at a very good restaurant called The Keg. Its name notwithstanding, this place serves excellent food, and in a vibrant, attractive, snappy, happy atmosphere.
Oh, I almost forgot, our Canada weekend was a very cold one, and we had driven to Montreal, and I left my car untouched in the hotel’s garage for 2 1/2 days in subfreezing weather. When we were about to leave, the valet discovered that my battery had died! He very kindly offered to jump the dead battery with the hotel’s cables, and for no charge. I accepted, and was very grateful. (And in circumstances like this, always remember to generously tip the person who performs such a helpful service for you with grace and aplomb…) Our 300+ mile return trip home went by without any incident. Bon voyage!