A few weeks ago, against all appearances, I left for a working trip to Montréal and New York. Thanks to Renaissance Hotels, I was tasked with creating a photography feature for a magazine (I’ll say more about it when the issue comes out).
The frontier between work and pleasure is often blurred when I take on this type of mission (especially since I got to go with my SO), and this state of mind is very much the one of Renaissance Hotels (which I discovered last winter in Hamburg).
It’s perfect for me since my illustration work is also along a similar line of project : it’s all about enjoying your work and maximising business travel.
See you later Navigator !
These hotels, thanks to their Navigators (you know, this concierge with millions of good tips), allow you to discover the city under a new and more personal angle. I had already been to Montréal 2 times, but had never stayed long enough to discover all its secrets.
This time it was a quick stay as well, but with a myriad of discoveries – both touristic, gastronomic and unusual. I’ll try and resume my stay in Montréal in this one post, with lots of great addresses. I hope it’ll inspire you!
Like at home
The Quebecers were, as usual, incredibly friendly. So it is without much surprise that I found the same friendliness at Renaissance Montréal Downtown Hotel.
To chill in the lobby…
Even just the lobby, with its big leather sofa, bookcases and unexpected swings makes you want to curl up and enjoy the place.
… or in our room?
In our room, a modern decoration, colourful and welcoming, with a minimalist fresco by Quibe above the bed, and a mirror that fashion experts would probably be very envious of.
Breakfast, be it served via room service or in the dining room, is delicious. I especially enjoyed the berry pancakes with the vanilla twist. Probably the best I’ve ever had so far.
East Egg Benedict (with salmon and croissant!)
The breakfast in East restaurant
On the roof-top, a swimming pool opens up as soon as the weather allows, and there is a bar with a view where ice-hockey fans like to gather.
The East Restaurant
The hotel’s restaurant is a hommage to Asia’s most popular dishes, with Yusheng salad (with 32 ingredients!), dim sum, sashimi and other yeast dumplings.
Yuzu bliss and taro cheesecake
We really enjoyed the food the first night we arrived. And the pastries are pretty awesome as well, like the taro cheesecake or the well-named Yuzu Bliss.
The Navigator’s recommendations
Following the Navigator’s advice, we discovered Montreal in different ways : vintage, colorful, friendly and welcoming : follow me!
THE MILE END AREA
We spent a good amount of time in this bohemian area, with it’s vintage boutiques, vinyl stores, and very Instagram-able libraries and cafés. Here are a couple of addresses if you want to have fun browsing in that part of town.
ARTS CAFÉ (201 Avenue Fairmount O): perfect for a matcha latte while listening to “Smalltown boy” straight from the eighties.
CARDINAL TEAROOM (5326 Bvd St-Laurent) : English tearoom for those of you that enjoy pretty tableware, club sandwiches and warm scones.
LIBRAIRIE DRAWN & QUATERLY (211 Rue Bernard) : it used to be a Canadian comic-book publishing house. You’ll find quite the selection of comic-books, but also culinary/fashion/decoration magazines.
ANNEX VINTAGE (56 Rue Saint Viateur) : stationery, vintage accessories and clothes.
SUNRISE CAFE & COLLECTIONS (54 Rue Saint Viateur) : both a decoration and fashion shop and a café.
VERTUOSE (5409 Bvd St-Laurent) : a boutique with lots of green plants, cactus and very cute tiny pots. Too bad it’s not the sort of purchase that travels well.
PLATEAU MONT ROYAL’S COLOURFUL HOUSES
You can stroll in the streets of Plateau Mont-Royal and admire the architecture of these colourful houses. Note this surprising rainbow house in Bullion street – probably the most photographed of all.
After the stroll, stop at the BLUEBOY (1P1, 150 Mont-Royal Avenue E), a shop that specializes in homemade frozen yogurt, made with creative flavours, such as tomato-basil, coco-lime, mojito, but also more classical options – you can add fruity or chocolate-y toppings.
A Frozen yogurt stop
To make it even yummier, you can opt for a side of churros.
ATWATER Market (138 avenue Atwater) : this art-deco building houses all the stalls where local farmers sell their treasures : maple syrup in all its forms (butter, candy, cake, flakes), flowers, meat and fish.
Le VIN PAPILLON (2519 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest) : to keep up with the local product vibe, here’s a great address for those who like good wine and good food.
I said it already : I’m no expert when it comes to alcohol – I only tolerate it in very small amounts.
Croque-Mackerel , Fried gnocchi with sturgeon cream and smoked carrots eclair
Here you’ll find tapas with regional products, served with a glass of wine. I don’t know if it’s because of the quality of the wine (thanks to Alex who was with us that evening – a Quebecer who studied in Bourgogne and a wine expert), but I especially enjoyed the synergy between the food and the wine (all in moderation of course!).
Ham and cheddar
Smoked carrots eclair
Everything was absolutely delicious – these fried gnocchis with sturgeon cream and cheddar ham are still in my dreams.
SPA-SUR-L-EAU BOTA BOTA
To finish our stay in style, here’s a great address for an unusual relaxation option in Montréal. This boat houses a spa where you hop on for a couple hours or for the day : massage packs can be booked for a complete relaxation.
We didn’t have quite enough time for the whole experience, but I enjoyed the dip in the heated pool (37°C!). .
Tradition would require us to alternate between a cold pool (10°C, with a full immersion, head included) and the heated pool/sauna, in order to open the pores and invigorate the tissues, but I decided to just go for the “softening” of my tissues in the heated pool, knowing that outside, the temperature was only 10°C anyway!
Apparently the contrast is even better in the wintertime when there is snow!
So here’s a recap of my Montréal stay. I hope you enjoyed it! I really had fun, and hope to discover even more of the city during my next stay.
We’ll meet up again very soon for my re-discovery of New York, and new addresses and experiences! Enjoy the end of your week! (English translation by Marine)