Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
What We Love
- On the Saskatchewan River’s north bank, within walking distance of downtown
- The fairytale castle vibe and plenty of history; Queen Elizabeth slept here in 1939
- Staff is particularly attentive
- Terrycloth robes in the bathrooms and feather duvets on the pillowtop mattresses
- The health club has an indoor pool and Olympic-size squash courts
What To Know
- This is an Old World–style hotel; not well suited to those looking for more modern design
- WiFi costs $14.95 per day and is free for members of the Fairmont President's Club
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is reminiscent of a 16th-century French chateau, with its intricate, gargoyle-covered limestone facade, copper roof and crystal chandelier–bedecked interior. The only thing more dramatic than the stately curb appeal may be the views from the opulent restored Victorian public areas. As Edmonton’s oldest and only four-diamond hotel, the “Mac” (as locals call it) has serious pedigree and a historic reputation to uphold. Named after Canada’s first prime minister, the 199-room hotel has been wining and dining some of the world’s power players (King George VI of England and his daughter, future Queen Elizabeth II, for example) since opening its doors in 1915.
Bed and Bath
Today, this fairytale gem still maintains an air of elegance. Look for signature elements from the original railway era hotel, like brass doorknobs on the closets, paneled doors and deep bathtubs. The guestrooms are spaciously (if simply) appointed with luxurious upholstery, original art and comfy feather duvets. Traveling with a pet? He’ll get the royal treatment too; a gift bag of treats and a map of pet-friendly perks await canine companions at check-in.
The hotel’s restaurant, the Harvest Room, serves fresh regional specialties like freshwater fish along with great views of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. More relaxed dining and unique cocktails can be found at the Confederation Lounge, a library-style space that stays open most nights until the nonbookwormy hour of 1 a.m. To burn off the food and wine, hit the full health club, Olympic-size squash courts or indoor pool. Or simply stroll through the palatial gardens and take in the full royal experience of the property.
In the Area
Hardware Grill is a longtime favorite fine dining establishment (try the signature cedar-plank-cooked salmon), with an outstanding wine list that includes more than 500 top-quality selections. Funky shops, hip bars, boutique hotels, theaters and nightclubs all give Old Strathcona a young, edgy vibe. If you’re into the bar scene, this strip is Edmonton’s hottest. Head to West Edmonton Mall for indoor fun. Snorkel and, believe it or not, scuba dive on the mall’s giant lake; the vast water park has 20 water slides and a wave pool. You can also bungee-jump from a height of 100 feet, walk with a camel in the petting zoo or ride the roller coaster in the amusement park. Edmonton is rich in Ukrainian heritage sites, most of which are found north of downtown; a small collection of costumes, dolls and fine tapestries can be found at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. Don’t miss the gallery of aboriginal culture at the Royal Alberta Museum, which uses a multimedia display to document the lives of the Plains Indians. The museum also hosts frequent cultural shows, dance performances, films and special exhibits.
How to Get There
We stayed on the gold floor and had access to their gold lounge. The lounge did not have as many food options as others I have stayed in but it was adequate. Alcohol was not included in the lounge access which I found strange since I have stayed in many Fairmont properties worldwide and alcohol drinks have always been free.
The room was very spacious and charming. The pool and steam room were very nice but sadly the hot tub was closed during our stay.
Service was great when it was available but we found that we constantly had to wait for attendants to actually show up at the gold desk. When the staff was there, they were super attentive and helpful.
Spent a couple nights at this familiar icon on Edmonton's river valley edge. Had a nice room with a river view that was beautiful during the day, and glaring yellow spotlight bright at night due to night lighting of the hotel shining directly into our room (had to close the drapes to sleep). The room was otherwise Fairmont nice with a comfy bed and well appointed bathroom. The service was very good, but not as excellent as it had been prior to Accor's acquisition...perhaps this was due to staffing changes or training in progress. The usual familiar staff faces were great, and a couple recognized me from previous visits. The new faces at the desk seemed to have an officious air about them (sort of fictional European hotel like vs the casual Alberta smiles). I was not embarrassed, as I usually am, that they insist on using my professional title at addressing me, as they didn't. The free welcome drink was very much welcomed. The food and drinks were very good, but the prices were out of line expensive for the location ($35 for breakfast that is half the price anywhere else??). And I guess I would have three other perennial 'complaints': 1. wifi remains spotty and weak at times, 2. winter in Alberta is dry, but the Hotel Mac seems to be running a dehumidifier in addition, and 3. how is it that any other hotel is able to place wall mounted toilet paper rolls within an arms reach and many Fairmont properties seem to delight in placing them a short hike from the toilet?? Don't get me wrong, I still love staying at Fairmont's and the Mac is a great place in Edmonton (well placed, good service, comfortable, clean and convenient). Even with the much vaunted Fairmonts, there is room for improvement.
I was welcomed by the valet and greeted by my name. The attention to details here is above and beyond. As my room was not quite ready when I arrived, I was upgraded to Fairmont Gold - a first for me. It was an amazing experience as I got to enjoy the delicious snacks, honor bar, breakfast, amenities and gorgeous room. Every single person that I encountered went out of their way to ensure my stay was pleasant. They provided history about the hotel and the bees, they shared details about the Gold features and they were kind in every word they spoke. The service I receive here is the reason I come back time and time again. This stay did not disappoint. See you soon!
On a busy weekend, the restaurant had only a buffet lunch. 6 of us had a light meal in the bar. Lovely old building nicely decorated for the season. View out the large windows. Decent selection of choices in the bar. Not inexpensive, but quiet and classic.
Our server was Dew Johnny and it's not an exaggeration when I say he was the best server we’ve ever had anywhere. So kind, so accommodating. He recommended the Harvest Room board where we got to try a little bit of everything and it was all truly phenomenal. One of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had.