Montreal may be the largest city in the province of Quebec but it has many distinct neighbourhoods that were at one time completely independent of each other. As a result, those traits that make each district unique still remain and are evident in its hotel offerings as well.
Hotel Gault is in the heart of the old city but don’t let its ornate greystone exterior fool you. While the historic 19th-century facade would certainly be at home next to its counterparts in Paris, the interior tells a decidedly different and more modern story. The former home to a carpet factory offers beautiful but paired down mid-century Scandinavian feeling decor. The floors are polished concrete (heated in the bathrooms) and decorated in a simple, contemporary style with 1950s Eames chairs, plasma TVs and minimalist loft-style rooms that create a chic design hotel experience without feeling cold and impersonal. Some of the rooms have terraces with amazing views of nearby Bonsecours Market, Notre Dame Basilica and the waterfront, all within walking distance.
There’s 24-hour room service, an on-site restaurant and a lovely fireplace in the lounge to relax in between experiencing all the city has to offer. There are only 30 rooms here so the vibe is definitely quiet and cool.
Another Bearleader favourite is the Renaissance Montreal Downtown, which despite carrying the Marriott moniker is anything but a cookie cutter chain property. The bones of the downtown property have remained since it opened in 1951 as a Canada Post location, but a recent renovation of the 12 story building has created a fresh and stylized interior set in a great location at the centre of everything. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, shopping on Rue Ste. Catherine and the old city are a short walk away, along with anything else you may want to explore. Rooms feature Nespresso machines and 48-inch LCD TVs. There’s also a fitness centre, a seasonal rooftop plunge pool, a rooftop restaurant and a pan-Asian eatery called EAST, which all make the small hotel an excellent value for the money.
The real selling point for a stay at the Renaissance, however, may be its style. A swing in the lobby (with a DJ spinning nearby on occasion) is an introduction to the whimsical tone inside. Murals and works by Montreal artist Alexandre Veilleux, graffiti artist Scanner, and others, plus oversized colourful furniture interspersed with sections of raw concrete lend to the chic atmosphere. In the spacious rooms, there may be a Picasso-esque drawing scrawled across an entire wall or whimsical photos tucked into a corner. Even the interior of the elevators is a feast for the eyes.
Another plus is the hotel’s dedication to service. Instead of a concierge, the Renaissance will connect you to “Navigators” who are meant to be able to connect guests with the latest happenings, best restaurants and up to the minute attractions. Want to explore the city by bike? Your navigator can make that happen. Want to know where to get the best cocktail in town? They can help with that too. It’s a great service especially for a traveller who has never been to the city before. The Marriott website also features a Navigator City Guide App which is definitely worth downloading.
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Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger
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