Legends, luxury, and John Lennon - all for the cost of a regular hotel suite!
Have you ever wanted to party like a rock star when you travel? Or live the life of a legend, sitting in the lap of luxury? Or follow in some of the most famous footsteps in the world? With a little luck, you can enjoy all three when you stay at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth and have a slumber party with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
In late May, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono arrived in Montreal following their first Bed-In for Peace in Amsterdam and a one day event in the Bahamas. The Fairmont wasn't their first choice of location but many other hotels had turned them down.
As it turns out, I think the Fairmont was the perfect choice and a little bit of that musical magic is still felt in the halls today. The four adjoining rooms of the Bed-In (now configured as one large suite) were used to record Give Peace A Chance and played host to likes of Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and dozens of other visitors.
They certainly were bonafide rock stars but John Lennon and Yoko Ono were anything but wild party animals when they were in Montreal. I was absolutely fascinated to read through the hotel's original, 45 year old paper logs and absorb all the details of Lennnon's room service orders. No crazy rock star parties here! Instead, there was plenty of orange juice infused with honey, wholesome whole wheat bread, brown rice, and steamed fish. I almost felt sorry for Lennon and Ono when I read through the list - there wasn't a hint of chocolate, cheese, or cognac and they were definitely eating healthier than I was!
Healthy living wasn't the only thing on John Lennon's mind during his visit. Time and time again, the hotel logs revealed a special side to Lennon - that of a courteous, thoughtful man. From calling ahead to warn the hotel about delays, to apologizing for the extra hardships the staff experienced, to taking a Fairmont bellboy under his wing when the young lad got in trouble for spending too much time in the famous suite, the John Lennon I met through those pages was the furthest thing imaginable from the tough, abrasive man portrayed in the press.
The story of the suite revealed a new side to Yoko Ono as well. I learned that she keeps in close contact with the hotel, working with them on special events and commemorations and helping them decide what groups and charities can use the room for publicity. And there are a lot of them - it seems everyone wants the chance to stage an event in the room, including a nutrition themed "Give Peas A Chance" event! I don't think the peas made the cut but countless others have benefited from the setting.
Today, the suite has been modernized and updated but still retains many of the original features from 1969. It's tastefully decorated, with black and white photographs and other mementos adorning the walls. When it's not being used for special events, it functions like any other hotel suite at the Fairmont. The suite is priced the same as other comparable rooms in the hotel, with no special surcharge! Staying here is the experience of a lifetime for many devoted music fans, so if sleeping in the Lennon Ono room is important to you, I recommend reserving it well in advance.
Even if you don't sleep in the Lennon Ono suite, a visit to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is a special experience. During our visit, we got to explore their roof top gardens, filled with herbs, strawberries, edible flowers, and heirloom tomatoes, and say a special hello to the bees in their very own aviary. The hotel bar serves up my favourite travel splurge of all - a Fairmont chocolate martini - but if you're lucky you can also order a cheese plate containing chevre from the Fairmont's goats (don't worry - they aren't kept on the roof! They have a happy farm home!) Some of the staff have been working at the hotel since even before the Bed-In and, with a little luck, you might be able to hear a tidbit of news on some of the famous guests they have hosted over the years!
Time to confess: Any celebrity hotel suites you'd like to check out??
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