I left a very unseasonably warm Vancouver for a very chill Montreal, and I mean this in every sense of the word. This isn’t my first visit to this unique French Canadian city, and if I’m completely honest, I can’t help feeling I’ve only scratched the surface. So leaving me wondering, what am I missing?
With 5-star hotels just around the corner, the Hotel Ambrose is lovely and ideal for the budget-minded. Originally two separate homes constructed in 1910, they were later converted into hotels during the ’70s. More recently renovated with beautiful modern touches, giving the hotel a hip vibe. The location makes most sites walkable and makes me smile. I’m not paying 5-star prices; it’s perfect!
Rooms are simply decorated, cozy and comfortable. Breakfast is served in your room, or, if you wish, head downstairs to the trendy hotel cafe, a popular hangout with the university crowd.
Montreal scores high as a walking city, best enjoyed in mild weather, “Bien Sûr”! Marché Atwater is a traditional market which is home to many culinary delights. The food selection is overwhelming, French pastries are to die for, and I’ve never seen so many versions of choucroute. Who knew? My eyes were on sensory overload, and my stomach was hungry. So many delicious items to choose from, and some that I had to ask, “qu’est-ce que c’est?”
As you leave the Marché Atwater, head towards rue Notre Dame, taking you toward Griffin Town, which has an eclectic selection of cafes and restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques; Stock Markt nearly crashed my bank account. This area is also home to the famous Joe Beef and Liverpool House, but you’ll need to make reservations to these popular restaurants way in advance!
If you’re looking for something different, head to OLD PORT, a.k.a. Old Montreal. Architecturally interesting, and yes, more cafes, restaurants and shopping, definitely on the touristy side. Just ignore and enjoy a walk in the footsteps of history or, at the very least, a Calèche (carriage ride).
Did I mention this area has a vibrant nightlife? I was at the mercy of a bunch of 21-year-olds; just to be clear, no one was dragging anyone. So I went of my own free will. We started with drinks at Santos good vibe; seriously, what do I know, except it was fun! After drinks, we headed next door to Philemon Bar for more drinks (ya, we did). I was feeling a bit nostalgic…Tequila shots?
If you weren’t aware of this already, Montreal is a University city, and McGill and Concordia are only a few blocks from one another. There is no escaping the great minds of these students. They own this town. LE PLATEAU is a popular hub for these students; it’s also home to two iconic restaurants, Beautys Luncheonette and Schwartz’s Deli. This area is a buzz at night with popular hangouts like Big in Japan Bar, Suwu and, yes, many more restaurants, but what else does one do when it’s minus 30 degrees? After a late night of debauchery (or anytime, tbh), uber Down Town to Boustan; their delicious Lebanese food will cure all.
So, you’re not a student? Wanting something a little more sophisticated? Skip the RITZ; it’s old and tired. Instead, head over to Bar George at the Hotel le Mount Stephen; it’s great for people-watching, the bartenders are top-notch, and the drinks are too. It’s the best! It’s not the place for Tequila shots, well…maybe just one:)
Lastly…a walk (a hike for some) to the top of MOUNT ROYAL, which on a beautiful day makes it all worthwhile.