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Le Centre Sheraton Montreal has acquired the rights to 40 archival photographs from the city's nearby McCord Museum, and the photos are to be displayed exclusively in the hotel's meeting rooms. A recent $40 million renovation enabled the artsy purchase, as well as the addition of some swanky new banquet chairs.
Designed with fidgety, conference-bound business travelers in mind, these aerodynamically-configured chairs provide laptop storage space underneath the seat and a hook on the back of the chair (for backpacks, umbrellas, fruit cornucopias). In short, the hotel is doing away with beds completely, and now asking frazzled business travelers to get cozy in their banquet chairs for the duration of their stay.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Le Place D'Armes, the Montreal hotel kindly asked fashion designer Dennis Gagnon to whip up some snazzy new staff uniforms. And on Tuesday night, those uniforms—scarves, zippers, Aldo shoes and all—were debuted to a small crowd inside Suite 701 (the hotel's billowy, high-ceilinged bar).
We recently experienced a remembrance of things past while flipping through our photos of a recent trip to Montreal (did you catch the Proust joke in there?), and wanted to tell you about the hotel we stayed in during our visit, the new Hotel Chez Swann. Named after the main character in Marcel Proust’s magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, this 23-room property is part boutique hotel, part art gallery.
The building is not your typical Westin in a big city. Sure, it's inside a big 23-story tower (formerly, it was home for the Montreal Gazette newspaper) but also adjacent are three smaller historical buildings that give the hotel over 450 guestrooms and suites total. And it's still pretty new, having just opened in May 2009.
The hotel features an interesting restaurant concept, gaZette, serving French Canadian cuisine in a farm to table experience with fine-dining flair. For drinks, guests can head to the Reporter Bar where they can trade scoops--er, stories from their day.
But the real star of the building is the hotel's indoor glass-bottomed pool on the fourth floor with views down into the hotel's grand entranceway. And of course, at night there's always the ever-reliable Westin Heavenly beds to sink into after you're done exploring the city.
How’s this for priorities? Opus Hotel Montreal chose its location because of proximity to the city’s party zone – the Plateau and club-crammed Boulevard St-Laurent. If you’ve come to Montreal for some bilingual flirting, this is the place.
The Opus is also a prime example of a hotel trend that shows no signs of abating: Nightlife that rivals the rooms. Here, it’s the model-magnet lounge, Koko Bar, which has the whiff of a Miami pool party: Gauzy white curtains, servers in short sleeves, and the kind of designer oddities meant to convey "personality" – in this case, a lime-green runway and...frog statues. And seating is on banquettes (of course it is).
Montreal’s buzziest new hotels have two things in common: Resurrected antique architecture and chill lounges.
le petit hôtel is l’example parfait. The 24-room boutique hotel lives in a lovely 19th-century building in Vieux-Montreal. Ease into the evening with a glass of Quebecois ice wine at the low-lit lounge and, as the hotel folks put it, "mingle, munch, and unwind."
As for the design? Also parfait. We’ve researched lots of boutique hotels, and some can seem forced in their “boutiquey-ness” – too cute, and conventionally unconventional. Here, though, we love the mischievous and inviting interior. Tang-orange color accents play against old stone throughout the hotel. A monochrome suite with a grey-slate wall is offset by, say, a single orange chair or vase. (It reminded us of the film Red Balloon where there’s just one pop of color in the muted black-and-white landscape.)
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We have to admit: it’s rare for us to sneak a glance at our porter’s feet when he’s schlepping our bags into a hotel. But then, we haven’t stayed at The Opus Hotel Montreal or The Opus Vancouver. We definitely would have noticed these babies.
That's not just any pink you’re seeing—it’s a custom shade painstakingly created by the Opus Hotels owner and the head designer of the venerable Canadian shoe company John Fluevog. The snazzy numbers are worn by valets and male guest-service associates at both Opus hotels—but there’s no need to plot an elaborate game of “trip the porter and steal his shoes”, because they’re also available through the hotels’ mini-bar menus. (Of course they are.)
Oh, Montréal, ever the cultured temptress: Culture hounds forgoing their Parisian jaunts this summer can get their French art fix in our northernly neighbor. To help them out, Loews Hôtel Vogue is offering a package called “Culture and Nature à la Montréal Style,” which helps guests “experience the beauty of Montreal both indoors and outside.”
In other words, that means overnight lodgings, two museum passes to the renowned Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and an oh-so-French picnic lunch for two packed in a keepsake backpack. (Think sandwiches, baguette with local cheeses, mixed salad, pita chips, fresh fruit, cookies, and bottle water.)
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Jaunted's own Shira Lazar was there at the hotel this week and she got an exclusive tour of the suite with Richard York, a journalist who visited with the couple during their week-long stay.
Here's a look inside the famous bed-in suite.
When you were in college, Montreal was a veritable fantasy land for the adventurous 20-year-old American: a lowered drinking age, a different culture with no expensive flight required, a lowered drinking age, interesting people, and a lowered drinking age. Plus: lots of cheap hostels!
Now that you're a bit older and your priorities have changed, it's time to hit up Canada's cultural capital again and this time around, you can afford to (and you probably want to) stay in a real hotel while you get the most out of what the city has to offer. Also, they say French is the language of love (don't they?) so why not take your honey there for Valentine's Day? Or, you know, just take yourself there for a vacay. After the jump, we've rounded up the Five Best Hotels to Experience La Vie a Montreal.
[Update: Fairmont has let us know some players are starting to arrive today! Eeek!]
The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal has scored the cushiest gig of them all, sure to make fellow Canadian hotels very jealous--it's the official hotel of the NHL All-Star Game happening this weekend.
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth decked to the NHL nines as it prepares for this weekend’s NHL All-Star game in Montreal. As the official hotel, the Fairmont will host a series of exciting events throughout the weekend.
No word on what those exciting events are just yet but for any serious action, you'll have to hit the ice. Or if you have a thing for brutish, toothless yet somehow still attractive men, staking out this hotel is a good start to get cross-checked without any penalty time. Wink, wink.
Surprisingly, room rates are very affordable here starting at $289CAD this weekend for a Fairmont Gold room.
This is actually the bed at Aloft Rancho Cucamonga. But they are pretty much all alike.
Specifically, Aloft Montreal Airport. The review is more about the brand than the property itself, and it's spot on about the elements of Aloft that do and do not work. For instance, the hotel earns points for having guest rooms with a "refreshing lack of clutter," but loses out with "corporate chirpiness" like when desk clerks say "Aloha" instead of hello.
(We don't quite get all that aloha business either. We're not in Hawaii, a place of sun and fun. We're in Montreal, or Lexington, or Chicago, or Philadelphia, likely on business. So thanks, Aloft, for reminding us that we're not in Hawaii on vacation.)
In all, the Times sums up Aloft so well, we're a little miffed we didn't think of this analogy ourselves: "If the design-savvy retailer Target opened a hotel, this is what it would look like."