Grand Railway Hotels

Icons of Canadian History and Architecture

Canada's Grand Railway Hotels

Canada’s Grand Railway Hotels are iconic landmarks, rich in history and charm. These magnificent establishments have played a pivotal role in shaping Canada’s identity. Combined with the railway, these hotels connect the nation from coast to coast.

From the opulence of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to the historic elegance of the Chateau Frontenac, these grand railway hotels have witnessed the country’s growth, hosted celebrities and dignitaries, and preserved architectural marvels. Join us on a captivating journey through time as we explore our country’s captivating history of Canada’s Grand Railway Hotels. The grand railway hotel concept in Canada took shape in the late 19th century as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) laid tracks across the country. The vision by William Cornelius Van Horne, then General Manager of the railway, who coined the term “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists”, was to create luxurious hotels along the railway route, enticing travelers to explore the vast Canadian landscape. The CPR commissioned renowned architects to design these grand establishments, fusing European elegance with distinct Canadian motifs.

“If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.”

Many of the grand railway hotels have been designated as National Historic Sites of Canada, emphasizing their cultural significance. The restoration work ensures that future generations can continue to experience the splendor and charm of these timeless establishments. Today, our train tours include stops at the Rocky Mountain resort towns, where modern travelers can journey to these National Historic Sites, following in the footsteps of kings and queens, prime ministers and poets, climbers and skiers who’ve been drawn to the ‘castles’ and the ‘jewels’, and the majestic peaks that surround them, for 125 years.

True Canadian Landmarks

"Canada is not just a place on the map, it's a feeling of warmth and unity." - Justin Trudeau

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a historic and iconic landmark known for its luxurious accommodations and breathtaking mountain views. Its rich history dates back to the late 19th century, making it one of the most storied hotels in North America. The hotel first opened its doors on June 1, 1888. It was constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of its vision to promote tourism in the Canadian Rockies.

Over the years, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has welcomed numerous notable guests, including royalty, celebrities, and world leaders. Its opulent interiors, with intricate woodwork, grand staircases, and elegant furnishings, have hosted lavish parties, conferences, and important events. The hotel has undergone several expansions and renovations to meet the evolving needs of its guests. Today, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers over 750 guest rooms, multiple dining options, a spa, and extensive recreational facilities. Its location amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Banff National Park provides guests with opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and wildlife exploration.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has, without a doubt, the most beautiful setting in Canada. After Canadian Pacific Railway guide Tom Wilson became the first non-Indigenous person to see Lake Louise and said “As God is my judge, I never in all my explorations saw such a matchless scene,” word spread of a deep blue high alpine lake with a magnificent setting beneath the glacier-fringed Mt. Victoria. In 1890, the CPR built a log cabin at Lake Louise, soon to be replaced by the larger “Chateau”, with its roots in the alpine heritage shared by the Swiss mountain guides who were brought in to lead hotel guests into the peaks.

While the CPR marketed Banff Springs as a luxury hotel, Van Horne sold the Chateau Lake Louise as a destination for backcountry adventures and alpinists. Mountaineers, artists, poets, and horseback riders flooded in, along with royalty from around the globe. We offer the Chateau Lake Louise as an upgraded option to many of our tours. Please book early to ensure you'll get space at this hotel, for the 539 rooms often sell out a year in advance.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Located near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Fairmont Château Laurier is an iconic landmark in Canada's capital city. This Grand Railway Hotel was constructed in 1912 by the Canadian National Railway and named after Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Showcasing stunning architecture that combines elements of French Gothic and Scottish baronial styles, the exterior features turrets, copper roofs, and intricate stonework, while the interior is adorned with luxurious furnishings and ornate detailing. The hotel offers a range of rooms and suites, each exuding old-world charm and modern comfort. Over the years, Château Laurier has been a venue for important state dinners, conferences, and weddings. The hotel has also been featured in movies and literature, further solidifying its cultural significance.

Beyond its history and architecture, Château Laurier provides exceptional amenities and services to its guests. The hotel's location offers easy access to Ottawa's key attractions. Guests can explore Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, and the ByWard Market, all within walking distance.

Fairmont Empress

The Fairmont Empress Hotel is a historic and iconic landmark situated on the picturesque Inner Harbour in British Columbia's capital city of Victoria. The hotel is renowned for its grandeur, elegance, and famous high tea. Since its opening over a century ago, the Fairmont Empress has become a symbol of luxury and hospitality on the West Coast. First opening its doors on January 20, 1908, and designed by architect Francis M. Rattenbury, the Fairmont Empress was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to accommodate the growing number of tourists arriving by rail and steamship. Its impressive Edwardian architecture, featuring château-style elements and a prominent dome, made it an instant landmark. We offer a Victoria extension with all of our tours and this hotel is well worth a visit.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

Standing majestically in the heart of downtown Edmonton, The Hotel Macdonald is known for its elegance and unparalleled hospitality. Since its opening in 1915, the hotel has been a symbol of luxury and sophistication for over a century. Its breathtaking architecture combines Château-style and Beaux-Arts influences, creating a visually stunning experience for visitors. Offering a range of luxurious accommodations, including tastefully decorated rooms and suites, it provides modern comforts while retaining a sense of old-world charm. Each room is designed with attention to detail and boasts stunning views of the city skyline or the picturesque North Saskatchewan River Valley. VIA Rail travels through Edmonton between Jasper and Toronto making this city a possible add-on to your railway journey.

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, is a renowned luxury hotel that exudes elegance and sophistication. Standing as a landmark in the city since its opening in 1939, the hotel showcases classic architectural charm combined with modern amenities. A Vancouver icon, the hotel offers a range of luxurious accommodations, including well-appointed guest rooms and spacious suites. Each room is tastefully designed, blending traditional elegance with contemporary comforts. Guests can enjoy plush bedding, upscale furnishings, and stunning views of the city or the hotel's picturesque courtyard. For art lovers, the hotel's location next to the Vancouver Art Gallery make it ideal. Almost all of our tours start or end in Vancouver and this is one of our main hotels used in most journeys.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

The Château Frontenac Hotel is a historic and iconic landmark located in Quebec City, Canada. Perched high above the city, overlooking the St. Lawrence River, it is recognized as one of the most luxurious and picturesque hotels in the world. With a rich history dating back over a century, the Château Frontenac has become synonymous with elegance and charm. The hotel opened on December 18, 1893 and was designed by architect Bruce Price. The Canadian Pacific Railway constructed the Château Frontenac as a grand railway hotel. Its distinctive architecture, inspired by French Renaissance castles, features steep roofs, turrets, and copper-clad towers.

Today, the Château Frontenac stands as a symbol of Old World elegance and grandeur. With over 600 guest rooms, multiple dining options, a spa, and extensive meeting and event spaces, it offers a luxurious experience for visitors. We offer Quebec City and this hotel as an optional addition to our Canadian Trip of a Lifetime.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Fairmont Royal York

The Fairmont Royal York is a Grand Railway Hotel located in the heart of downtown Toronto. With its grand architecture and rich history, it has become a landmark destination for both visitors and locals alike. Its prime location, adjacent to Union Station, make it easily accessible to railway passengers.

The Fairmont Royal York has hosted notable figures, including royalty, celebrities, and political leaders. Today, the Fairmont Royal York stands as a testament to timeless elegance and sophistication. As one of Canada's most iconic hotels, the Fairmont Royal York has become an integral part of Toronto's cultural fabric. Its history, charm, and continued commitment to excellence have secured its place as a treasured landmark in the city's hospitality landscape. The hotel continues to provide exceptional service, combining its rich heritage with modern comforts to create a memorable experience for its guests. This is our hotel of choice for every Trans Canada train tour.

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

With a rich history spanning several decades, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth has become a symbol of elegance and hospitality in the city of Montreal. The hotel was named after Queen Elizabeth as a tribute to the royal visit to the city in 1951.

Throughout its history, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth has been associated with significant events and cultural milestones. In 1969, it gained international attention when John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their famous "Bed-in for Peace" in Suite 1742. This event, during which the couple recorded the anthem "Give Peace a Chance," became a symbol of the peace movement. Please ask for a tour of this room during your stay. Today, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth continues to be a prominent landmark in Montreal. Its prime location near popular attractions, such as the historic Old Montreal and the shopping district, makes it a preferred choice for travelers. The hotel is attached to the train station, making it easily accessible for all of our guests.

Tours Featuring Grand Railway Hotels

The Canadian Trip of a Lifetime: Westbound

You’ll start at the Atlantic Ocean and end at the Pacific Ocean. Over 16 days, you’ll see the full breadth of our great country. From the rugged East Coast to lake country, to Canada’s Prairies, to remote glaciers atop mountains, to lush West Coast rainforests, you’ll see Canada in a way that few…

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The Canadian Adventurer: Westbound

This 12-day tour will take you on a truly Canadian adventure. Packed with unforgettable natural excursions, must-see highlights, and endless landscapes, this tour combines two legendary trains that connect the Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes. Begin your tour in metropolitan Toronto and take in…

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Rockies Glaciers & Gardens: Westbound

From the remote glaciers of the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver Island’s lush floral gardens, this tour is our most comprehensive vacation package for Western Canada. Soaking up the scenery with daylight-only travel and sleeping in hotels at night, you’ll love travelling through the mountains aboard…

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Eastern Canada by Rail

Explore Canada’s cultural cities with this relaxing tour of Eastern Canada by rail. Highlights of this journey of exploration include: the “Centre of the Universe” in Toronto; our nation’s capital in Ottawa; trendy, chic Montreal; the European flare of Quebec City; an overnight train journey along…

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