In 1969, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their infamous “Bed-In for Peace” at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, the staff refused to touch their clothes for dry-cleaning and shoes for polishing. Hippies! A houseman had to vacuum three to four times a day because John constantly threw flower petals into the air. Matters were not helped when they requested a cage for their white mouse.
Unlike the stars of today, their diet was extremely ordinary, even to the point of fish and chips, brown rice and two-color jello for dessert. Since they didn’t leave their bed, they missed dining at the hotel’s venerable Beaver Club, ranked as one of the top ten restaurants in the world. They could have dined on the finest of Quebec’s regional cuisine like the kings, princes, international dignitaries and celebrities who were frequent guests. Pan fried duckling foie gras with green tomato and strawberry marmalade or artichoke cappuccino with truffles to start. Roasted meats and utterly fresh fish, prepared with panache. Service at the Beaver Club is a rare treat. The maitre d explains each menu item in delectable detail, guests eyes light up, and he assists in fashioning a menu which did not disappoint John Travolta, Ray Charles, Paul Anka, Joan Rivers, Shakira, Lauren Hill and countless others.
The event grabbed world-wide interest. John and Yoko spoke to 150 journalists each day, and 350 radio stations carried reports of these “peaceniks” who were protesting the war in Vietnam. Here’s where they recorded Give Peace a Chance with celebs like Tommy Smothers, Petula Clarke and Timothy Leary.
A total redesign of the Queen Elizabeth included the iconic Suite #1742. But it has been embellished with memorabilia. Pick up a green rotary dial phone and hear John’s commitment to peace. There are virtual reality exhibits; archival radio and TV footage; historical replicas of pieces inspired by John and Oko’s travels, art and lives. In another room, podcasts, photographs and even the room service menu from back in the day. This 1,370 square feet homage can be rented for $2,400 per night. Makes one wonder if Yoko Ono has given her blessing to this installation.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.