Montreal: the closest you’ll get to Europe this side of the Atlantic Ocean and a glorious playground for those who love an extremely international city bustling with North American living and French accents.
Putting my own personal adoration for the beautiful city I once called home aside for the moment, Montreal has a long list of offerings for any traveler looking for a bit of sophisticated relaxation.
While strolling along the St. Lawrence River in the French inspired old town area or fulfilling all of your shopping needs on the expansive Ste. Catherine street that includes underground malls (trust me, underground is the way to go for shopping in Montreal’s winters) and street lined shops and restaurants can fill numerous days in Montreal, there are also hidden secrets of the city that I assure you are worth every minute of discovery.
In September, as part of a $14 million renovation project, InterContinental Montreal revealed its new bar, Sarah B, which is the first absinthe bar in North America. Decorated with warm tones, including a walnut floor, Murano chandeliers, and velvet banquettes, the bar is a perfect place for guests to discover the rituals and legends surrounding absinthe, including the art of decanting the mysterious liqueur. The hotel’s general manager, Bernard Chênevert says, “Guests of the InterContinental Montreal will appreciate this taste of authentic Montreal and enjoy an experience they won’t find elsewhere.” Signature Sarah B. cocktails include: Jacques Cartier Collins (Versinthe, absolute pear, limoncello, house sweet ‘n sour mix, soda), Seasonal Absinthe Frappe (Versinthe, Marie Brizard anisette, Angostura bitter, basil leaves, seasonal fruit), and Mojito A La Mode (Versinthe, Bacardi, house sweet ‘n sour mix, strawberry puree, lemonade, basil, mint leaves).
For a modern twist on the traditional British teatime, head over to the chic St. James Hotel for tea at their newly renovated restaurant called XO. The hotel is known to cater to visiting celebs like the Rolling Stones and Madonna, so you can sure this is one extremely haute-experience waiting to happen.
If you’re looking for a mani-pedi during your Canadian stay, visit the spa at Place D’armes where you can experience a hammam (Turkish bath) before getting cozy with a drink on the terrace to dry your toes.
For men looking to include some of Quebec’s own Philippe Dubuc business attire to their wardrobe, visit the designer’s Montreal location while the women can become acquainted with Montreal’s equally stylish yet unmistakably feminine Marie Saint Pierre shop. Just be prepared to need an extra suitcase for all of your stylish purchases.
Located right in the heat of the city, Oglivy is one of the city’s most deluxe shopping malls and it is filled with charming boutiques, fantastic book stores, luxurious stationary shops, and store after store of all your favorite international designers. If you’d prefer your own guided tour of Montreal’s up and coming designers, however, contact the professional style-seekers at Les Effrontes.
Should-not-miss restaurants in Montreal include: Joe Beef, for all your steak needs in Little Burgundy (“Petite Bourgogne”), Toque, featuring a tasting menu and an unbeatable local reputation, La Cantine, the Plateau’s traditional Quebec brunch locale, and Point G for waffles, ice cream and macaroons galore. In addition, if you’re looking for a late night cocktail, visit Hotel St. Paul’s bar to rub shoulders with some of Montreal’s chicest locals.