Site Inspection at The Fairmont Macdonald in Edmonton, Alberta
Food & Wine
I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in August of 2023 and did a site inspection while staying at this beautiful property. The standout feature of this hotel is the staff. Each and every level of the guest experience was exceptional and that’s largely thanks to the excellent and attentive staff at every level of the hotel. The hotel has a fascinating history in Edmonton and was built in 1915. The hotel is the only historic four-star hotel in Edmonton and is referred to as the “Chateau on the River.” The property sits atop the ridge line of Edmonton’s downtown and has beautiful sweeping views of the North Saskatchewan River. Queen Elizabeth II herself stayed at the hotel in 2015. I would stay here again and highly recommend it to my clients.
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Where to stay
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
A historic luxury hotel in Edmonton, Alberta, offering elegant accommodations, fine dining, and stunning views of the North Saskatchewan River Valley.
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It’s centrally located and within walking distance of Edmonton’s nightlife, bars and restaurants (including the Rodger’s Center where the NHL Edmonton Oilers play). There is a large mall located about a five-to-ten-minute walk from the hotel for any immediate shopping needs and the hotel also has a small gift shop on-site in the fitness center. If you are looking for craft cocktails, the trendy Asian-inspired menu at Baijiu is located about 15-minute walk from the hotel. Baijiu is quite popular, so I’d recommend getting there before the dinner rush! There are also plenty of other eateries nearby should they prefer something else.
The hotel is about 30-minute drive from Edmonton International Airport and about one hour on public transportation.
The rooms are scheduled to undergo a complete renovation in November 2023. This does not include the suites or the gold level floor as they have already been previously renovated. I absolutely loved my view overlooking the river. The seventh and eighth floors are reserved “Gold Level” floors. The Gold Level floor experience comes with a private lounge and dedicated reception desk, so you can check in at a more elevated and secluded area of the hotel. In the Gold Level lounge, exclusively available to Gold Level guests throughout the day, is a fantastic selection of food, snacks, coffee, tea, non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages. There is a self-service fully stocked bar available day or night in the lounge as well.
The eighth floor (top floor) houses all of the suites on the property, all with different features and personalities. I’d recommend the King George Suite for honeymoon couples who like a bit of privacy (so long as they are okay with stairs as there is a flight of stairs directly from the front door to the suite itself). And of course, there is the Queen’s Suite, in which the late Queen Elizabeth II stayed back in 2015. The queen suite is a two-level approximately 1,500-square-foot accommodation that is simply stunning. The suite has its own private entrance, a private foyer and an additional room located within the private vestibule for other guests.
As a whisky lover, I found it particularly exciting when I discovered the property is home to the largest collection of Dalmore Scotch in North America! On top of that, the property has a special relationship with Breckenridge Bourbon (a bourbon distillery in Colorado) to produce a one-of-a-kind bourbon for their signature Old Fashioned cocktail. You won’t be able to find this particular Breckenridge Bourbon anywhere else! Both restaurants on site are fantastic. The Confederation Lounge, located directly through the lobby, was just refurbished in February of 2023. The room is gorgeous and is the perfect balance of a mountain lodge vibe with contemporary accents. Don’t miss a spot by the cozy wood-burning fireplace under the painting of the official signing of the Confederation of Canada. The painting features Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, the namesake of the property.
The second restaurant on the property is the Harvest Room. This is where breakfast is served each morning if you are not staying in a suite or Gold Level Floor. The breakfasts are FANTASTIC and are a la carte style on the weekdays and buffet style on the weekends! Don’t forget, booking your stay with me means you get included breakfast as part of your VIP status! The Harvest Room is famous for its breakfast, especially on the weekends. Another highly recommended experience is the Afternoon Tea service, served on Saturdays and Sundays in two seatings (12 pm and 2:30 pm). Since we are talking about tea, if you’re a tea person, you must try the different selection of teas while you’re staying here. The Fairmont has its own tea farm in Sri Lanka where they specially craft each of their teas throughout the entire tea-making process! I don’t consider myself a tea person, yet I found myself drinking Earl Grey each morning because it was that good!
The property prides itself on sustainability and one of the ways they embody that is through their herb/vegetable garden and beehives on site. They consistently highlight products from their garden on their food and cocktail menus, which really brings a nice farm-to-table touch. If you are allergic to bees, not to worry, the bee hives are in the far corner of the property and not near any of the rooms. That being said, make sure to ask one of the friendly reception staff to point out where they are located for reference.
The property also boasts a two-level fitness center with a great variety of free weights, barbells and other equipment, along with a full-service spa. There is a steam room and sauna along with a salt-water pool and jacuzzi which are great ways to decompress and relax. There is even a wading pool if you are traveling with little ones.
Need to Know
I recommend The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald to my clients looking for a relaxing and refined place to stay while in Edmonton. Whether you are coming in for a sporting event, wedding, family vacation or romantic couples’ getaway, the property has something for everyone. And it would be gorgeous for a wedding venue with the bridal suites to match. Reach out to me and let me plan your perfect Canadian Adventure!
This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Edmonton, Alberta. In need of further inspiration? Check out Vivian Ho’s guide, Discovering Alberta's Beauty: An Enchanting 7-Day Itinerary Covering Calgary, Banff and the Kananaskis Mountains.
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