I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying that one thing that I've missed greatly since March 2020 has been travel. I love to travel so much, and after a pause from a worldwide shutdown I was ready to get back into it! While the boarders have opened up, Brian and I were craving a couples getaway and weren't quite ready to leave the country without Benny yet (we had actually planned a trip to NYC and canceled, a story for another day.) So where does one go when they want to stay within Canada and still feel like they're experiencing a different culture and atmosphere? Montreal, of course!
Montreal is touted as Canada's Island getaway, and honestly with the difference in architecture, language and energy from Toronto, it truly felt like we were getting away. Montreal is a big Canadian city that's abundant with European charm, rich in history and absolutely overflowing with culture. For us, it was an obvious choice as an easy getaway from Toronto and I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Montreal, whether it's a domestic getaway or international destination. Here are some details on our trip, where we stayed, where we ate and what we did while visiting Montreal.
A Note Before You Book
At present time Montreal, as part of the province of Quebec, requires proof of vaccination for a majority of leisure activities; including but not limited to any indoor dining, gyms, music festivals and theme parks. While the province is operating on their own app and QR code, it is not yet available to residents outside of Quebec.
If you are visiting, are over the age of 13 and you have had your second dose of vaccine over 2 weeks ago, then simply provide government issued proof of your second dose and a piece of photo ID.
Where We Stayed
Knowing that we would be on-the-go the entire trip to Montreal, I wanted a location that was both luxurious and centrally located within the city. I was so happy to find out that we had been booked into the W Montreal, an iconic brand that offers chic and modern designs and is known for their guest experience.
The location was perfection, within walking distance to both Old Montreal and the shopping on Sainte-Catherine Street. We parked our car with the hotel and while we rarely had to use it, it was always quickly retrieved from the Valet when we needed it. The W Montreal was also the best of all worlds in terms of ambience and comfort; there was a nightly DJ in their gorgeous lobby with bartenders expertly crafting cocktails, but then you couldn't hear a peep once it was time to retire to your room. Perfection, especially since I'm very conscious of noise when I'm traveling! I also appreciated the fact that the in-hotel restaurant Tbsp. offered a delicious breakfast, as well as strong espresso-based coffee.
Montreal's independent café culture is vast, and expanding by the day! Every neighbourhood has a collection of independent coffee shops that are unique one to the next, and offer something a bit different. We were lucky enough to have a guided café and pastry tour of some notable cafés in and around Old Montreal. The tour was excellent, and a perfect way to start our trip as we learned a lot about the history of Old Montreal. For example, did you know that Montreal was once a fortified city? I thoroughly enjoyed our tour and had the best time sampling local coffee and pastries. Here are a few cafés that really stood out.
Voted as one of the most beautiful cafés in the world, Crew Collective & Café inhabits the historic old premises of the Royal Bank of Canada. Built in the ‘30s, the breathtaking space with intricate vaulted ceilings and gold tones has been preserved and makes for a spectacular place to have a cup of coffee and get your Instagram shots. The details are unparalleled and I love how they repurposed old artifacts from when it was a working bank.
Olive & Gourmando
Open 7 days a week, Olive & Gourmando is a cozy bakery/grocery store/bistro that serves up tasty and delicious food for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. If you visit, you absolutely NEED to try their butter croissant. I was told that it was the best in Montreal, and I definitely agree. So good.
Located on the top floor of the SSENSE fashion building in Old Montréal, the SSENSE MONTRÉAL café is a cement-clad, minimalist space with a beautiful shadow show created by the long skylights in its ceiling. The modern design of this chic café is in beautiful juxtaposition to the historical architecture of Old Montreal
Tommy Café Old Montréal
Tommy Café + Apéro is a neighborhood coffee shop and bar. Established in Old Montreal, Tommy offers a wide selection of coffees, pastries, snacks and drinks — seven days a week. A balanced blend of modern design, mid-century furniture and Victorian architecture. I especially love the use of greenery in the space, and it's always bustling with people grabbing coffee to-go, or hanging out on the stairs outdoors.
Maison Christian Faure
A chic pastry shop-café-boutique where you can satisfy your sweet tooth or learn to make delicious treats during a workshop. Maison Christian Faure is very light and bright and the perfect location with water views. I enjoyed a canelé and Brian loved his macarons!