It was 50 years ago this week. From May 26 to June 2, 1969, John Lennon, Beatles legend and one of the most famous people on the planet, and his wife Yoko Ono held their “Bed-in for Peace.” Staying in bed for a week was an act that resonated around the world and instantly became an iconic moment of 1960s counter-culture, anti-Vietnam War protest, and even music; without leaving their bed, the couple composed and recorded “Give Peace a Chance,” Lennon's first solo single.
The couple in their white pajamas in bed surrounded by hand-written peace slogans and the global media is an iconic image of the 20th century. The high-profile, peaceful protest fueled public sentiment and hastened the end of the war. And “Give Peace a Chance” continues to be an anthem of the peace movement, still in constant rotation on airwaves and playlists.
What's sometimes forgotten is where it all took place: at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Suite 1742 has been a pilgrimage site for decades, with fans posing for pictures in front of the door, ever since the bed-in.
Years ago, Yoko Ono gave Fairmont permission to market the suite using their names. But it wasn't until a couple of years ago, during a $100-plus million renovation, that the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite became an experience itself. With Yoko Ono's input, the hotel restored both the mid-century design elements and items specific to the bed-in: iconic window graphics, mementos, photos, even a guitar; and a series of interactive media experiences including messages recorded by the couple during the bed-in, media reports of the time, even virtual reality.
This year, during the 50th anniversary celebrations, the hotel invites visitors to the city, as well as hotel guests, to relive this incredible and memorable moment.
A series of one-off events will take place to commemorate the Bed-in for Peace, including guided tours of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite (usually not open to the public), a “Peace & Love” party complete with a “Yoko Fresh” cocktail, and a concert for the 50th anniversary of the Bed-in at Espace C2 (a stunning hall on the top floor of the hotel). All of these are ticketed events that include donations to the local chapter of Amnesty International.
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth is also hosting longer-term, complimentary #Bedin50 activities. This anniversary week, every half-hour in the Agora in the hotel lobby, there is an illuminated Bed-in projection with a soundtrack that highlights the war protest movement of the late 1960s.
Visitors to the hotel will also find a special exhibition of photographs from Gerry Deiter in the hotel’s lobby. On assignment for Life Magazine, Deiter was the only photojournalist to cover the whole event. Photos and testimonials from Bed-in participants are taken from the book, “Give Peace a Chance: John and Yoko's Bed-in for Peace,” compiled by Joan Athey. The exhibit runs through Oct. 9, John Lennon's birthday.
Agents can also help their clients relive the extraordinary moment, booking the 50th Anniversary Bed-in Package at the hotel that includes accommodation in suite 1742; breakfast at Rosélys restaurant or in-room; two white pajamas; calligraphed lyrics of “Give Peace a Chance”; a booklet of historic photos; white flowers; a commemorative collector item; a welcome treat; and a $100 donation to the local Amnesty International. The package is available through this year at the cost of $2,999 CDN, double occupancy.
There is only one John Lennon and Yoko Ono suite, but all guests staying at the hotel from May 26 through the autumn will receive a commemorative magnetic room key.