Stage Your Own Bed-In: Following in John & Yoko’s Footsteps, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal

They don’t really want you moving the furniture around the way the late ex-Beatle did. But you can sleep in and have breakfast amongst snowy, plumped up pillows while munching on the same foods John Lennon and Yoko Ono enjoyed more than 30 years ago.

The John Lennon suite in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal was the setting for the famous couple’s bed-in in 1969. It’s also where they recorded the song “Give Peace a Chance.”

When I walked in, I noticed the original bed was gone, but John and Yoko were smiling beatifically down at me from a framed photo on the wall. John was wearing blue and white striped PJs and slapping his feet in the air like a seal.

Why Montreal? They got turned away from the United States because of John’s drug conviction and when they tried staging a similar bed-in in Amsterdam, it flopped. Toronto, stodgy and scared, turned them down, too. But Montreal, the city that exhales joi de vivre, was the perfect choice.

Today, the suite’s living room is tastefully appointed with comfortable chairs and sofas. When John was there, everything except the bed was schlepped into the hallway. Hotel PR rep Joanne Papineau showed me the original room service order. Breakfast was poached filet of sole, salad, scrambled eggs, crisp bacon and pots and pots of tea. The bedded couple also requested a wire cage big enough for a white rat. For an experimental art installation? Or for a new friend of Yoko’s daughter, who was with them? Papineau wasn’t sure.

The hotel staff had their hands full with visiting celebs such as Timothy Leary, and oceans of press trying to slide into the circus. One bellman zealously ran errands non-stop for John until he got in trouble with his superiors for neglecting other guests. “He told John about it, and John said, ‘Why don’t you come and work for me, be my personal valet?’ So, he did,” explained Papineau.

The suite, which is popular with honeymooners, is available for approximately $600 CAD a night through December 31, 2006, including breakfast in bed for two with the John & Yoko Getaway Package. A special “Give Peace a Chance” package includes a CD, pajamas, bouquet of white flowers, the same breakfast and dinner that John and Yoko had, and a framed souvenir picture for around $2,000.

It wasn’t the same bed, but when I closed my eyes I could imagine.

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