Every hotel in Quebec City is overshadowed by the landmark Chateau Frontenac run by Fairmont, but if you’d like to stay somewhere with a more hip and contemporary design, consider a stay at the artistic Hotel Monsieur Jean a few blocks away.
This 49-room boutique hotel is just steps away from the historic district attractions of Old Quebec. The view out your window will be of pretty streets and shop fronts dating back a century or more, but Monsieur Jean is in a newer building and inside it’s all modern and artistic.
Now that Americans can fly to Quebec again after a long drought of having to stay away, I’m reviewing a lovely hotel I stayed in just a couple months before all hell broke loose and we started the health struggle that is still ongoing. When I stayed at this Quebec City boutique hotel in January of 2020, I only needed a mask to keep my face from freezing. I was only distant from my fellow tourists because there weren’t many of them braving the Canadian winter temperatures like I was. I had just come from staying in a hotel made out of ice even.
I felt warm and cozy with Monsieur Jean, Vieux Québec however, as I looked out my window at this scene:
I was delighted with the whimsical decor, the library conference room, and an electronic machine that spit out short stories to read on demand. Quirky and colorful modern furniture fills the lobby and art adorns the walls, quite a contrast with the Old City historic buildings outside the doors.
There’s no restaurant inside of this hotel, but there is a cafe connected to the lobby that’s facing the street. It’s a great place to grab a quality coffee and something baked or something hot in the morning to start your day. Later in the day you can get an adult beverage there and drink it in the hotel lounge, next to the grand piano. Or bring your friend to the library for a game of backgammon.
Otherwise, the focus is on getting out and about since most of Quebec City’s main attractions are within walking distance. I did a long hike along the historic stone walls. I took a funicular down to the river ferry while chunks of ice drifted by. I visited the oldest part of the city at river level and visited some local museums. All of this on foot from the hotel. English-speaking staffers know the area well and can provide good activity and dining recommendations.
Unfortunately, one of the staffers had to go above and beyond the call of duty when I got locked out of my room–twice. In a baffling design flaw from the manufacturer, when the batteries of the keycard room doors here run out of juice, the locks just plain stop working. There’s no manual override like a physical master key, nor apparently, a way to replace the battery from the outside. So a front desk worker had to use a bent coathanger to reach under the door to grab the inside handle and pull it down. Naturally, that took him quite a few tries!
Rooms and Suites at Monsieur Jean Hotel
When I was in my room, however, I loved it. Filled with natural light from the big windows and designed with care, my room was the antithesis of corporate chain hotels ones that are filled with the same catalog furniture whether you’re in Halifax or Huntsville. Heavenly mattresses sit on beds with striped platforms and headboards and the end tables and dressers give a nod to France with their chrome feet. The alarm clock is an attractive free-standing classic one, not a blinking piece of plastic. Built-in closets and a hidden kitchenette area with fridge, microwave, and coffee maker are painted blue.
Bathrooms with heated floors are dominated by gold free-form mirrors and have marble double vanities. Real drinking glasses, a make-up mirror, washcloths, and a make-up cloth are welcome inclusions, as are the nice Gilchrist and Soames toiletries. Glass-enclosed showers feature an overhead nozzle and a hand-held one with plenty of space.
My room had an armchair, a marble table with two colorful chairs, and a huge TV mounted on the wall. The included Wi-Fi worked well and parking in an adjoining garage is available for a charge of $30 per day.
Suites at Monsieur Jean are worth the upgrade if you’re a couple or family and will be here a while. There are four different layouts of these, one having a terrace space and one having a Murphy bed in addition to a king. They all have more furniture by way of a delightful divan or additional armchairs plus a dining table.
Rates start at around US$200 to $250 for a room with a view depending on the season. See the official site for more photos, pics, and booking info or check prices online at Hotels.com and Expedia. Note that the official name is sometimes listed as Monsieur Jean, Vieux Québec Hotel or it will have “l’hôte particulier” on the end.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Hotel Monsieur Jean while researching a winter in Quebec City travel article for another publication.