Nov 14, 2015

The Fairmont's famous Bed-In

One of the finest hotels in Montreal is the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth with a great location in downtown Montreal above the train station and Amtrak, the underground city, and within walking distance to the hop-on bus tour station. I think all hotels have stories that would make a fascinating book.  Hotels of the caliber of the Fairmont have seen the likes of the
Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles de Gaulle, Jimmy Carter, Harry Belafonte, and John Travolta. Hotels try to protect the privacy of their guests but one story the Queen Elizabeth Hotel is willing to share is the week-long Bed-In staged by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  It is where Lennon wrote and recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”On the way for a bite to eat at the Fairmont’s Les Voyageurs Bar I noticed a wall-size image of the Bed-In. John and I enjoyed fish and chips while entertained by a pianist. Hotel staff was willing to share information about the famous Bed-In.

To protest the Vietnam War Lennon decided to stage a new non-violent protest – a Bed-In instead of the more familiar Sit-In. The first Bed-In was staged in Amsterdam and received wide coverage. The couple planned a second Bed-In in New York but Lennon had a legal issue and couldn’t return to the U.S. so on May 29, 1969 they ended at the Fairmont in Montreal. The couple grabbed world-wide attention during their week in bed in Suite 1742 where they spoke to over 150 journalists each day in an effort to get their message of peace out but the highlight of their stay was the writing and recording of “Give Peace a Chance.” Occasionally roses will be left anonymously by the suite’s door.

Today people can book the Fairmont’s Bed-In Peace Package that includes accommodations for one night, a Lennon CD that includes “Give Peace a Chance,” souvenir pajamas and nightgown, and breakfast at the Le Montrealais or in bed.  We had a wonderful room but, alas, the Suite 1742 but before we left the hotel John and went to get a look at Suite 1742.  As luck would have it just as we approached the door the housekeeping supervisor came out of the room and asked, “Would you like to see the Lennon suite?” “Of course!” I could feel the

mystical aura in the suite where the walls are decorated with press articles, a framed “Give Peace a Chance” with music and lyrics, and pictures of the couple. There is an interesting photo that includes a young girl, Gail Renard, who bypassed security and was then asked by Lennon to return each day to entertain Yoko’s young daughter. She later wrote a book about her experience.

A stay in Suite 1742 a must-do for dedicate Lennon fans. Other iconic Lennon spots include the 2.5-acre Strawberry Fields in NYC’s Central Park that includes the iconic black and white “Imagine” mosaic and named after the Beatles’ song “Strawberry fields.”  When John and I were in Prague we visited the Lennon Wall where in the 1980s the wall was filled with Lennon-inspired graffiti. The communist regime claiming it was the work of alcoholics, the mentally ill, sociopaths or agents of the West had it removed only to have it reappear. They gave up.