Snow blows gently in the cold December night as our taxi makes a right down a narrow street. I peer happily out the window as we pass a line of small trees and shrubs, all wrapped in festive red lights for the holiday season. Our driver announces our arrival and before I can finish paying my door opens and I’m greeted by a smiling young man, our bags already in his hands. Thanking him, I follow him into the warmth of the (current) top rated hotel in Quebec City; welcome to the Auberge Saint-Antoine.
Not just a luxury hotel, the Auberge Saint Antoine is also a museum; but that doesn’t mean you need to be a history buff to enjoy its charm. Upon walking the halls you can’t help but notice the artefacts; bits of pottery and utensils, glass bottles and personal items. Even the remains of leather shoes and cannon balls can be found, all arranged as the ‘art work’ on the hotel walls. It’s interesting for sure, and a huge part of what makes the Auberge Saint-Antoine so special.
Set in Quebec City’s old port, the Auberge Saint Antoine literally sits on history. Part of an old cannon battery runs through the bar and the Panache restaurant was once an enormous warehouse filled with a variety of goods. The area saw hundreds of years of history; including trading and battles, but as time passed it was forgotten, until the Price family acquired the grounds with the intention of turning it into a hotel. During the transformation a number of excavations took place, revealing that this was an incredible historically significant area, and an archaeologist’s dream.
Today, a number of the treasures excavated from the site can be found in the halls of the hotel, which itself is comprised of three historically significant buildings. A stay at the Auberge Saint-Antoine promises its guests a luxurious 21st century experience while paying homage to its incredible past.
Located in Quebec City’s Old port, the Auberge Saint Antoine is in the perfect spot to see the city. Less than five minute drive from the train station (about 20 minutes from the airport) it sits across the Saint Lawrence River and offers easy access to the city. This luxurious hotel is only a short walk to some of the most picturesque areas Quebec City has to offer including Place Royal, Petit Champlain, the Old Port Market, and the funicular (or breakneck stairs) leading to upper town. A great area for artisans, cafes and restaurants, it’s the perfect location from which to explore Quebec City.
As in the rest of the hotel, most rooms reflect some aspect of the rich archaeological history that makes this establishment so unique. Our room was the music room, complete with a couple of artefacts of it’s own; one outside to help identify the room, and another displayed on the desk.
But don’t let the old dates on the desk fool you; despite the property’s historic charm, the rooms at Auberge Saint-Antoine are much larger than one would think. We stayed in a comfort room on the third level with a lovely view of the courtyard and Panache restaurant. There was plenty of space to spread out around our double beds and the large desk (upon which I found some fresh baked goods when we arrived) without worrying about our things being in the way.
My bed can only be described as a little piece of heaven. I slept like a baby every single night and seriously debated never leaving the comfort of my pillows and duvet in the morning. I was that comfortable.
The bathroom was another pleasant surprise; my favourite aspect being the heated floors which were brilliant after coming in from the cold. The massive bathtub (complete with gorgeous smelling ‘noir’ shampoo, soap, conditioner, and body wash) was equipped with both the rain showerhead and handheld hose, and the counter offered plenty of room to spread out our toiletries in front of the (fog-free) mirror. Cozy white bathrobes behind the door and slippers (which I wore the entire time I wasn’t outside) were also included and much appreciated by the both of us.
Our room also included complimentary tea and coffee, two flat screen televisions (one of which was in the bathroom) and a Bose sound system, a mini bar with beverages and snacks, a safe, a telephone with a conference and speaker option, alarm clock, and a complimentary turn down service. And for those who aren’t as strong-willed as I am, and really can’t bring themselves to leave the comfort of the (amazing) beds; room service is also available.
Breakfast at Panache
They say the best part of the day is breakfast, and when you eat at Panache you will not be disappointed. The setting itself is beautiful (the wooden floors are actually originals from 1822) and the fireplace in the centre of the room is cozy enough to stave off even the coldest weather. As for the food, well the raving reviews and awards speak for themselves.
But if I can give you a personal tip from my experience; you can’t go wrong with the Lily’s French Toast complete with fresh fruit and real maple syrup. It was so good I ate it two out of three days (much to the amusement of the staff), and I have zero regrets. Other popular choices included the cold buffet with a variety of cold meats, cheeses, and pastries and the highly recommended Panache benedict with duck. (But seriously, the French toast…).
Café Bar Artefact
Located just below the reception desk on the main level, the Café Bar Artefact was my hangout spot of choice during my stay, and not just because of the awesome cannon visible through the walls.
With inviting chairs covered in pillows, two alcoves with fireplaces and board games, and a cocktail list after my own heart, I loved spending my evenings here and if I had to, I would be more than comfortable sitting here alone.
A light menu is offered at the Café Bar Artefact, including appetizers and desserts. As you already know I was a big fan of the cocktail list, one of the top in the city, and tried many including the cocktail of the month (the Equinox), and the green apple mojito. If you feel the need to behave and stick with something non-alcoholic there is a variety of ‘mocktails’ and, of course, the incredibly popular hot chocolate for two which is served with waffles. It’s basically liquid chocolate and its incredible; the perfect way to warm up after coming in from the cold.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 8pm-11pm the bar hosts Jazz nights; it’s a great way to relax and enjoy some music after a busy day exploring the city.
Nothing beats Canadian hospitality; and there was more than enough to go around at the Auberge Saint-Antoine. From the moment the doorman opened the taxi door and welcomed us to the property, until our departure when we were wished a safe journey and given a bag of treats for the train, I felt like a valued and appreciated guest.
Reception greeted me each time I walked by, taking the time to ask how my day was going, how I slept or just to offer a friendly smile. When I (stupidly) forgot my key in my hotel room it was no problem to get another (along with assurances that I was not a complete idiot and it happened all the time.) The front desk team was also more than willing to assist me with directions when the concierge was busy; doing their best to ensure that I spent more time exploring and less time waiting.
The concierge team was a fantastic resource for information and recommendations. Having not made a reservation for dinner on Saturday night, we were given multiple suggestions on places to try along with a business card and a number to call back if we got stuck. It was an incredibly kind gesture, and just one of many examples of the fantastic customer service that we experienced during our stay.
Despite the luxurious settings and my lack of French, I constantly felt at ease chatting with all the staff I interacted with throughout my visit. The quality of customer service was phenomenal and a large part of what made our stay so perfect.
Aside from the award winning restaurant and chic bar, Auberge Saint-Antoine also offers the following:
- LeGYM: The property’s fitness facility, LeGYM is accessible 24 hours a day to best fit visitor’s schedules. Equipment includes free weights, treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes and Swiss balls. Personal training sessions are also available for private sessions and yoga classes are available Saturday mornings at 11am.
- Spa Treatments and Massages: Also available at LeGym, guests of the hotel can arrange for manicures, pedicures, and other skin treatments. Massages are also an option as the Auberge Saint-Antoine is affiliated with L’Attitude Massothérapie.
- Cinema: One of the coolest aspects of this hotel is the private screening room. Guests are welcome to check with reception to see if it’s available, and if it’s not in use you can take advantage of the DVD collection and use it for some movie viewing of your own!
- Archaeo Tour: With such a rich history incorporated into the hotel there are bound to be some great stories to go with the collections. Take twenty minutes to take a free tour and learn a bit of the history behind what makes this hotel so unique.
Other perks include:
- A Business Center
- Indoor, heated valet Parking and Car Wash
- Children’s Programs
- The bottom floor or Panache is also available for group events and weddings.
I absolutely loved my time at the Auberge Saint-Antoine. A luxury hotel with a cozy and welcoming atmosphere; I never wanted to leave! I can honestly say that my stay here was the best hotel experience I have had to date, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this property to anyone visiting the area. When I return to Quebec City, this will be where you can find me.
As indicated above it was a pleasure dealing with all the staff I met during my stay; however a special acknowledgement needs to go to a few team members who went above and beyond in making our experience so enjoyable: Marcela (front desk), Charles (Concierge), Sasha (Panache), Christina (Café Bar Artefact), and the lovely Ingrid Lemm. A HUGE thank-you to all of you!
*DISCLAIMER* I was a guest of the Auberge Saint Antoine during my (fabulous) stay; however these words are, as always, entirely my own.