Montreal is not full of true 5-star luxury hotels–there is no Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental, and the Ritz-Carlton Montreal gets rather mixed reviews. There are certainly some charming auberges and B&Bs, but if you prefer more modern luxury rather than quaint surroundings, the pickings are a bit slim.
Here are our picks for the best modern luxury and boutique hotels–and fortunately, this time of year, you'll be able to get them at far better prices than in the late spring and summer. In particular, book well ahead if you plan to be in Montreal during the International Jazz Festival (which in 2012 will be held June 28 to July 7, 2012) as prices skyrocket and availability plummets for many hotels and accommodation options during this time. For some great foodie tips for Montreal, check out Superb Bistros, Beer and Bagels in Montreal
I enjoy some Sofitels more than others–and this is one that I definitely enjoyed. When my husband and I stayed in Montreal, we opted for a downtown location, rather than the Old Town, and we liked the Sofitel's location in Montreal's Golden Square Mile (from the French “Le Mille Carré Doré”), an upscale neighborhood along Sherbrooke Street near Mont Royal, walking distance to great shopping and restaurants. It's also easy to get to other parts of Montreal, since the Peel Metro Station is just a block away.
Probably what I enjoy most about Sofitel is their reliably plush and comfortable beds, and these did not disappoint. Even the standard Superior Rooms are a quite spacious 330 sq ft and let in plenty of natural light, with floor to ceiling windows. The marble bathroom has a rain shower, bathrobe, slippers, and L'Occitane bath amenities. Service during our visit was excellent, including the concierge desk, which helped us with dining reservations and directions. And the price this time of year is reasonable for a hotel of this caliber, starting well under $200/night including tax.
One thing that could be an issue for some guests is that there's no fitness center or spa on-site (although Sofitel staff will gladly arrange spa services in the privacy of your room). Frankly, we were walking so much around Montreal that a fitness center was the last thing on our minds–but of course, it's a must for some, so worth mentioning.
Loews Hotel Vogue is located not far from the Sofitel Montreal, so it's also convenient to downtown shopping, dining, and the Peel Metro Station. While the decor at Loews Hotel Vogue is more on the classic side, what we really love here is the jacuzzi bathtub–even in Deluxe Rooms, which are even a bit more spacious than the Sofitel, at 350 sq ft. There's also a small flat screen TV in the bathroom, if you want to luxuriate in your bath while watching TV or a film. Another nice thing, similar to Kimpton Hotels, is that even though WiFi isn't officially free, it's easy to get the fee waived if you sign up for the Loews YouFirst Rewards program. Loews Hotel Vogue is also family-friendly and pet-friendly, with special treats for your kids, pets (or both!) Pets incur only a $25 per stay fee.
As with the Sofitel, there's no on-site fitness center or spa, but Loews Hotel Vogue guests are offered free access to Club Sportif MAA, located three blocks away, and The Spa St. James, also a short walk away, is available for massages, body treatments, facials and other spa services.
If you stay at Loews Hotel Vogue, don't miss taking a peek at the iconic Ogilvy's store across from the hotel, probably the oldest department store in Montreal. One of its quirky traditions, maintained to this day, is a bagpiper who emerges from one of the changing rooms at 12 noon and proceeds to walk the aisles of the store, playing his bagpipe.
If you prefer to be right in the Old Town, near the waterfront, Le Saint-Sulpice is a great modern boutique hotel option. There's lots to like here: huge, airy Superior Suites range from 500-750 sq ft, giving you room to stretch out, and sleep up to 4 (there's a Queen bed and also a sofa-bed). There's a galley kitchenette for preparing your own light meals, and your own Nespresso machine so you can perk yourself up with some espresso whenever you feel like it. Windows open (a rarity these days) to let in fresh air, and there's also complimentary WiFi. Bathrooms offer soaking tubs, separate showers, and L'Occitane amenities. Some rooms even come with an electric fireplace–nice and cozy during these cold winter months! And if you're traveling with your pet, Le Saint-Sulpice provides a complimentary treat at check-in, food and water bowls, floor mats and pet beds and blankets for $40 per stay.
As with the Sofitel Montreal and Loews Hotel Vogue, there is no on-site fitness center or spa, but guests are offered free access to two fitness clubs, Aldred and Gymnasia, that are close by. Guests seeking spa treatments have the choice of hydrotherapy treatments at special rates at Spa Scandinave or massage and body treatments in the privacy of their guest room, arranged by the hotel concierge.
Anthony Bourdain's The Layover, which featured Montreal today, did not include a hotel stay (he was there less than 24 hours) but if he had stayed, we'd have recommended Le Saint-Sulpice to him. It has more character than a chain hotel, and the sheer space of the suites and the amenities do a good job of pampering a tired globetrotter. See Anthony Bourdain's Favorite Hotels and Travel Advice
and our Layover Hotel Collection
While I personally am not a huge fan of W hotels (they're a little too dim, lively and loud for me) the W Montreal remains one of the most hip and modern looking design hotels in Montreal–just enter its lobby, with its modernist red, black and grey motif or one of its purple mood light Wunderbar and you'll feel as if in a hotel version of Virgin Atlantic. Service is surprisingly good for the W brand, and of course the W beds are as comfortable as ever. Enjoy a cocktail and great people watching in the lobby and the 3 bars/lounges, or venture out to the Old Town, which is a 10-15 minute walk away, for some sightseeing or dining.
Unfortunately, standard “Cozy” rooms here might have you thinking you're actually on a Virgin flight or a cramped NYC hotel room–they're only 250 sq. ft, so cozy indeed. “Wonderful” Rooms are more generous, at 330 sq ft. All rooms feature electric blue accents, 42″ flat screen TV, DVD player, and Bliss bath amenities.
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