Fairmont Hotel Macdonald: Staying in the Jewel of Edmonton’s Skyline

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, Edmonton, Canada


In July, 1915, the doors to a seven storey limestone and copper, chateau-inspired castle were opened.  Luxury and charm spilled into the streets, enticing newcomers of Canada to settle in this Northern Alberta community.  Guests dined beneath twinkling chandeliers hung from an ornate 24 foot ceiling, as notes of an invisible band reverberated through the grill-work above.  Tales of exploration and discovery were shared over clinking glasses and a massive fireplace, unescorted ladies quietly accessed the Drawing Room through a private side entrance and sweeping views of the bold North Saskatchewan River valley beckoned patrons to step onto the grandness of the patio.  The heart of Edmonton was born.

Once the tallest building in Edmonton, Hotel Macdonald still shines front and center.

100 years of history lie behind these walls.  To envision an Edmonton skyline without the crown jewel that is the Hotel Macdonald is impossible, yet it was very nearly removed from existence.  By 1983, this Grand Pacific Trunk Railway property fell into disrepair, and was slated to face the wrecking ball.  Thanks to the vision and dedication of former Edmonton Mayor, Terry Cavanagh, a designation as a Municipal Heritage Resource was bestowed upon the hotels exterior, lobby, Confederation Lounge, Empire Ballroom, and Wedgewood Room.  A $2o million renovation and preservation was performed by Canadian Pacific Hotels, who overtook the property in 1988. The castle was returned to its former glory, and re-opened in May, 1991.  The city’s heart beat once again.

Today, the hotel denotes airs of romance and timeless elegance, yet manages to maintain a warm and welcome feel. The upscale amenities and luxurious surrounding mix with personal touches to create an atmosphere that embraces each patron to grace its grounds.  From gourmet dining and High Tea to in room movies with hand delivered popcorn, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is the epitome of grand service and genuine gesture.


With sweeping views of the North Saskatchewan River valley, Canada’s largest urban park system, the patios of Hotel Macdonald are one of Edmonton’s most picturesque gathering spots.  Guests unwind with a signature cocktail or decadent plate under the warmth of the Alberta sunshine. Paths wind through impeccably manicured gardens, the largest inner city hotel gardens in the country, offering an invitation to reflect by the fountain or enjoy a friendly afternoon game of croquette.  A richly contrasted color scheme of red and black pops against the faded limestone exterior as laughter and conversation mix with the breeze.


The large windows and wood paneling of the estate-library style, Confederation Lounge, draws patrons into its charming and classic atmosphere. Overstuffed, plush seating and a massive fireplace lie beneath the 9×18 foot ‘Fathers of Confederation’, a reproduction of the original by Robert Harris, which hung in parliament in Ottawa until it was lost to a fire in 1962.  The air radiates history, a bygone era of gentlemen gathering, discussing the growth of such a mighty, vast land.  Guests can cozy up indoors with a gourmet coffee, or step out onto the patio for a local craft beer, conversation flowing as a resident artist works on her latest masterpiece.

Confederation Lounge, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, dining in the Harvest Room is a deliciously luxurious experience.  With award winning cuisine and an international wine list, guests dine on regional specialties beneath a vaulted ceiling and views of the valley.  The smart-casual dress code adds additional flair as decorative hats and pinky primed guests gather for the ‘High Tea and Tour’ on weekends.  With the options of continental buffet, full buffet and a-la-carte, breakfast here is a work of art, served with a side of patio views and a high level of service and attention.


The Empire Ballroom is historic and grand, an opportunity to feast in the hotel’s original main dining room.  The 1983 restoration revealed a magnificent 24 foot ‘Chase’ scene, a beautifully ornate work of art, hidden for decades beneath a false ceiling and garish paint.  Beads dangle from the antique chandelier, representing the age old tradition of tossing them in the air during parties and true to form, the seasonal patio offers grand views of the valley and the glass pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory.

With over 50 items that range from deluxe, hot entrees to cheese platters and a dessert bar, this is one of the most grand and extensive brunch layouts in the city.  Guests can choose from the creative gourmet displays, or visit a friendly face behind a sizzling grill station to customize a fresh crepe or omelette.  Brunch in the Ballroom makes for an incredible tradition, family celebration or gift.  For more information or to make a booking, visit HERE.


With 198 rooms, including 13 suites, the hotel has accommodations that range from romantic getaways to rockstars and royalty.  The perfect family getaway begins with optional adjoining rooms.  A king bed and private bath for parents, connected to a separate room with two double beds and private bath for kids.  Each room provides guests with robes for lounging, in room movies ($) and hi-speed wireless internet ($).  You can compare room sizes, views and options HERE.

The Fairmont Gold Club was introduced in 2016 after an extensive renovation to the 7th and 8th floors.  These floors now house a hotel within a hotel, offering exclusive services and amenities.  Located on the 8th floor are the specialty suites, including the 2400 sqft ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ Royal Suite, an exclusively grand two storey space complete with dining room and space for a personal chef.


With a dress code of ‘Smart Casual’, dining in itself is a renowned ‘Hotel Mac’ experience, as both guests and locals enjoy the most coveted patio seating in the city.  No matter the choice made, each plate and glass are treated as a work of art.  The creative genius of the chefs continually evolves with the seasons, finding new and unique inspiration in each corner of life.  Service is a combination of wealthy knowledge and a warm smile as each mouthful is somehow more delectable than the last.


In 2015, Fairmont partnered with Wild BEES to open 16 ‘Bee Hotels’, and a vision of sustainability was born. Currently located on site of Hotel Macdonald are three hives, affectionately named Margaret, Agnes and the most recent addition, NewBee.  The hives are professionally tended to each week, offering guests an opportunity to suit up for a unique and educational experience.


Fairmont Hotel Macdonald offers a wide array of amenities for any family wishing to visit Edmonton, or to spend the perfect Stay-Cation right here in our very own city.  A full scale fitness center offers state of the art equipment to those looking increase their heart rate, while the spa is the place to enjoy a relaxing massage and slow it down.  The pool area provides an opportunity to lane swim or splash around, as well as a hot tub, sauna and steam room.

Other amenities include both self and valet parking as well as 24 hour bell staff and a Concierge.  President Club members can enjoy a complimentary downtown BMW service. 10,000 square feet of stunning meeting space makes Hotel Macdonald the city’s leading wedding location, and is perfect for gatherings of all types.  Family friendly amenities include childcare and pet-sitting, child-friendly dining options, hypo-allergenic bedding, adjoining or connecting rooms as well as complimentary use of the hotels three BMW bicycles (2 adult, 1 child)


Perhaps the most popular hotel personality is that of the sweet faced, Smudge.  This gentle soul was originally trained to be a Canadian Guide Dog for the Blind before beginning her journey as a Fairmont Canine-Ambassador at hotels in New Brunswick, Scotland and finally, Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton.  A pet-friendly hotel, guests are greeted by her wagging tail and gentle face, encouraging guests to take her for a walk downtown or in the beautiful River Valley.

While our incredible stay-cation was courtesy of Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, all opinions and words are my own. Our most heart-felt gratitude goes out to the hard working staff who made our experience one of memories that will last a lifetime.  Joslyn, you are a true gem.  Thank you.




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24 thoughts on “Fairmont Hotel Macdonald: Staying in the Jewel of Edmonton’s Skyline

  1. Wow, what a history this hotel has. Just gorgeous and so well taken care of. I envy most of the stay, but I definitely couldn’t go near those bees. You’re very brave! Looks like the perfect brunch location though on that terrace.

  2. What a magnificent hotel. I am so glad that it didn’t get torn down, that would have been a tragedy. The bee hives and being able to suit up and see them is a great addition as well as Smudge.

    1. A building can always be replaced, but the history it harbors cannot. This hotel is so rich in it, in such a young country! And yes, the bee experience was a definite highlight, as was sweet faced Smudge. Thanks for reading!

    1. Yes, the Fairmont in Lake Louise is a place that inspires wanderlust for sure! The Hotel Macdonald is steeped in history and luxury and also offers spectacular views, I hope you get a chance to visit someday!

  3. We were just in Edmonton, I wish I had known this was there. We visited both the Fairmont hotel at Lake Louise and at Banff Hot Springs and loved the architecture and history. This would have been a great addition to the trip. We will save it for our next visit. Thank you.

    1. Yes, those are both very popular for travelers coming to Alberta! Hopefully next time you get a chance to visit the one in Edmonton as well, it is so worth the stop!

  4. I have yet to get to Edmonton, because well, I’m not into malls. However, this place sounds like a fantastic stay. I love the “vision of sustainability”.

  5. Hey, this hotel is fantastic! I don’t like luxury for luxury but if it comes with a great history and magnificent architecture like in this hotel I would not mind to pay some extra money for the experience . .

  6. Macdonald is defintely a hotel that I have fallen in love with. Its elegance coupled with a vintage charm has bowled me over. 1oo years of history gives the hotel a unique aura. Finally the presence of Smudge makes for a homely and warm ambience.

  7. I’ve from Edmonton (living in Ireland now) and I love seeing posts about my hometown. I haven’t stayed at the Fairmont Hotel McDonald myself, but I attended a media event at the Empire Ballroom, and got a tour of the hotel. It’s quite beautiful and I’m sure worth a splurge. The views of the river valley from the patio are gorgeous.

    1. It is definitely a hotel worth the splurge! Whether it is a stay-cation or you are visiting Edmonton for the first time, Hotel Macdonald is simply too iconic and beautiful to pass up.

  8. Wow, this hotel is beautiful, but then I knew it would be after visiting the Fairmont in Banff! I’d certainly consider staying there in future and can’t wait to visit Edmonton on my next trip to Canada!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read about our experience! Fairmont is absolutely a name that rings luxury and authenticity on any visit to Alberta. The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is no exception, and I hope you get a chance to visit!

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