One word describes Montreal: delicious. The city’s fine-dining restaurants and mom-and-pop eateries, sumptuous natural scenery and gorgeous architecture, and the commingling of French and English at every turn work in concert to create a delight for all senses. It’s an enjoyable—and scenic—drive from Northeastern cities, and also easily accessible by air. Montreal travel—here’s the lowdown.
Where to Stay
Tucked away on tiny rue Saint-Sulpice in Old Monteal, the Hotel St. Sulpice offers a modern, cosmopolitan getaway in the city’s most historic neighborhood. All rooms are suite-style and generously sized, and come with free wi-fi, espresso machines, and mini-kitchenette facilities. Rooms with fireplaces, balconies, or terraces are available upon request. Several spa packages, including both traditional in-spa services or in-room pampering treatments, can be folded in to your room rate. You can also book a culinary getaway featuring a six-course dinner at the hotel restaurant. Rates start at $179 (Canadian dollars) per night. (Get the latest currency conversions at XE.com.)
There’s no shortage of B&Bs in Montreal, but La Loggia Art and Breakfast puts a different twist on the standard inn by focusing on artistic and healthy getaways. It’s located in Bay Village, adjacent to the Latin Quarter, with easy access to the Beri/UQAM metro stop. Canadian artwork is featured throughout the inn, with no two rooms alike. Additionally, guests can tour the innkeeper’s nearby studio/art gallery, or take a sculpting workshop, fitness class, or city bike tour. Rates start at $105 per night, including daily breakfast.
Where to Eat
There’s an ongoing debate over breakfast throughout Montreal: Who makes the better bagel, Fairmount or St. Viateur? Loyalties are fierce among the locals, and frankly, both shops are pretty amazingly good – it’s hard to beat the mueslix bagel at Fairmount, packed with honey, triticale flakes, oats, millet, sesame seeds, and raisins … until one tries the rosemary and sea salt bagel at St. Viateur, that is. Create a win-win situation (and see which place you prefer) by sampling the bagels from both establishments during your stay.
It’s an impossible task to recommend just one place for dinner in Montreal – the city is teeming with outstanding restaurants, for any type of culinary preference. But when I thought of memorable meals, I kept returning to Khyber Pass, a BYOB Afghani restaurant in the Mont-Royal neighborhood. The dishes—from pumpkin to lamb, eggplant to chicken—feature unforgettable marriages of flavor and texture, with each dish perfectly cooked. Meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth; vegetables complement the mains or, with the addition of spice, stand alone on their own right.
Only in Montreal
Rare is the city where you can take a decent hike without going outside the city limits. In Montreal, though, it’s a year-round opportunity. Mont-Royal looms downtown, and the mountain and its surrounding park become a bustling outdoorsy oasis in the summer and fall, and a peaceful getaway (albeit with more challenging terrain) in winter and spring.
Speaking of winter, Montreal offers an extensive underground infrastructure—20 miles in total, a city within a city, as it were—to give residents and visitors easy access to the city’s main attractions and institutions during inclement months. Known locally as La Ville Souterrain, the underground metro and pedestrian corridors offer gateways to the city’s shopping centers, restaurants, theaters, offices, museums, and more, all protected from the weather.
Why I’ll Go Back
Did I mention Montreal travel is tantalizing to the taste buds? It’s truly one of the best culinary cities on the continent, and I’m never going to be able to squeeze all the restaurants I want to try into a weekend or week-long visit. My list grows ever longer, every time I go. For example, check out the menus at Au Pied du Cochon, Garde Manger, and L’Express. I could go on, but I won’t … get there, pace yourself, and try as many restaurants as you can. And be sure to leave a comment and let me know which ones you liked best (so I can go back and try them).
Image: Parc La Fontaine in Autumn (Courtesy Ville Montreal via Tourisme Montreal)
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