Montreal is all about F words — fun, food, fashion, fitness, French and a whole lot of fabulousness!
On a recent trip to Quebec, I spent some time in Montreal exploring some of its higher-end hotels and figuring out what makes each one of these properties unique. While there, I visited, toured, stayed in and checked out the services and amenities of three of the city’s most luxurious (and surprisingly affordable!) hotels — the W Hotel, the Loews Hotel Vogue and the InterContinental Hotel. I found that each property has gone to great lengths to carve out a unique niche while also putting a distinctive Quebecois twist on their respective well-known international brands.
W Hotels are fabulous no matter what city you’re in, and the W Hotel Montreal is no exception. The brand’s three famous passions – design, fashion, and music — are woven into every element of the property and into its guests’ experience when staying there. This W Hotel underwent another massive renovation in early 2015, so staying in its new, ultra-modern rooms and suites makes you feel like you’ve really arrived.
The W’s gym is not to be missed. Even if you don’t want to sweat, the artwork on the walls is worth a drop-in just to check it out. The extremely hot, bondage-themed mural covering one wall is enough to inspire you to change into workout clothes and start getting sexified.
When night falls on Montreal, patrons of the W don’t have to wander far to find an awesome hotspot. The bars and lounges all around the hotel are destination nightlife venues themselves and are usually hopping with both visitors and locals alike who come for the chic atmosphere, unique cocktails, and frequent “W Happenings.”
In August, Montreal will once again go all out for its version of fashion week and the Loews Hotel Vogue will once again be the festival’s exclusive hospitality partner and host hotel. This fabulous property, which was Montreal’s first boutique hotel and also recently underwent a facelift, features spacious rooms and suites with notably enormous bathrooms.
Even though it’s affiliated with the international Loews Hotel chain, the Lowes Hotel Vogue (No affiliation with the magazine. I asked.) definitely has a more boutiquey feel. It’s celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and commemorating it with a special cocktail in the bar and restaurant called XXV. Clever, huh?
Speaking of its bar and restaurant, La Societe, local celeb chef Jean-Philippe (aka “JP”) Miron serves up some amazing French-Canadian cuisine. In case you’re wondering, yes there are a few differences between French and French-Canadian food (I asked.). And if the S&M wall mural at the W Hotel didn’t get you all hot and bothered, this restaurant’s oysters are supposed to be amazing.
Back in the vicinity of the W and ideally located close to many of Montreal’s key sites (e.g., City Hall, the Place d’Armes, and the Notre Dame Basilica where Celine Dion famously tied the knot) is also the InterContinental Hotel. InterContinentals often have a very corporate atmosphere to them, but Montreal’s does a good job of blending formal luxury with local sophistication and flair.
For the hotel chains that have them, and InterContinentals do, I always recommend getting a room on the club floor and taking advantage of the club lounge. It costs a little extra, but it can really be worth it for the perks alone, including great free meal spreads for breakfast and dinner and an open bar.
But save a little room and time to still try out the InterContinental’s unique absinthe bar, The Sarah B. Named after the renowned 19th century French actress Sarah Bernhardt, this is one of the only absinthe bars in Montreal and definitely worth experiencing even if you’re not staying here. Just be warned — the drip fountain and sugar ritual help deliciously disguise the fact that some of these varieties of absinthe can be well over 100- or even 140-proof.
If you’ve never been to Montreal, you’re definitely missing out. And even if you’ve been before, I find more and more to explore here every time I come back. The people are beautiful, the food is amazing, the nightlife is a little on the wild side, and its very close and inexpensive for Americans to visit. So be sure to splurge a little when you’re there and live it up — AIRistocrat-style.