Sweet Slumber at the Auberge Saint-Antoine
All photos courtesy of Auberge Saint-Antoine.
There is something particularly magical about visiting Quebec City during the winter. The city has a certain coziness, with the smell of wood-burning fireplaces filling the air, trees and shops everywhere adorned and lit up. There’s also a romantic connection with the past that is so cogent in a 400-year-old city. Yet, paradoxically, there is a modern sophistication to Quebec that ensures all the luxuries you expect. You can’t help but eat well, drink well, and in the case of the Auberge Saint-Antoine, sleep well too.
While Quebec City offers everything from big hotel chains to small B&Bs (and, of course the Chateau Frontenac, one of the most photographed hotels in the world), you should spoil yourself with a stay at the Auberge Saint-Antoine. It has been ranked amongst the world’s top hotels many times and there is something very special and memorable about staying in a hotel that has been part of the city’s fabric for almost 330 years. Built on one of the city’s richest archeological sites, there are 3 buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as portions of another structure that date back to the end of the 17th century.
Well over 5000 objects were found on the hotel site during archeological digs that shed light on the occupation of the harbour, the military and every aspect of life in Quebec over the centuries. Seven hundred of the objects are on display throughout the hotel which itself, in many ways, is a museum. Each room has a piece embedded in glass, with an explanation of its meaning. As the hotel grew over the years, so did the archeological discoveries. In response, the Auberge Saint-Antoine worked with the Quebec Ministry of Culture, the federal government and the City of Quebec to ensure the heritage was respected, studied, explored and celebrated. In fact, between 1987 and 2002, 14 archeological explorations, in conjunction with Laval University, took place around the site. For good reason, the hotel has won awards for its contribution to archeological and historical knowledge of the city and for its marriage of architecture and archeology.
As for the hotel, there is an extremely intimate feel to it. There are 84 rooms and 11 suites with every luxury you could want. The linens, the goose-down duvets, the bed and drapes that are so thick they block out light entirely – all ensure a night sleep worthy of royalty.
Many of the rooms have a terrace and/or gas fireplace, heated bathroom floors and a bathtub that perfectly fits two people. The Nespresso machine is a nice touch and the attention to detail is remarkable, right down to a container of dental floss attached to the wall. There is of course free Wi-Fi, in case you really can’t pull away from life (but you should).
There is a fully-equipped gym and spa, as you might expect at a hotel of this calibre.
The hotel bar, the Café-Bar Artefact, has jazz and tapas every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and the hotel hosts a “fashion tea” on various Saturdays throughout the year. The next one is Saturday, January 17th and features Longchamps bags, MYEL and Inukt.
The Panache restaurant has a fantastic reputation and offers a modern take on traditional Quebec cuisine. The breakfast is divine so don’t skip it.
Everything about the Auberge Saint-Antoine is luxurious, sophisticated and yet respectful of its rich past. If you do manage to tear yourself away from the hotel and venture outside, explore the Old City. It is festive and magical, especially this time of year. Just try not getting into the holiday spirit. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes or boots, the area is very hilly with lots of stairs. Be sure to wander up to the Plains of Abraham. The view of the mighty Saint Lawrence is beautiful as is the view of the city.
When you get peckish, there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. However, as is the case with most super-luxury hotels, the concierge has the inside scoop, and so taking the advice of the Auberge’s incredible concierge, Charles, was a very good decision. Patente et Machin, a hip but laid-back, very unpretentious resto with exceptional, gourmet food was worth the cab ride. The owners own another top-notch restaurant, L’Affaire est Ketchup, but it is hard to get a reservation at the last minute. That said, Patente et Machin will not disappoint.
Or just stay in, order room service and enjoy your gas fireplace. Auberge Saint-Antoine is the perfect place to refill your tank, pamper yourself and relax, whether you head there now or after the holidays to recuperate.
To find out more or start planning the perfect holiday getaway, visit http://www.saint-antoine.com/.