Video: Luxurious and Unique Ways to Elevate a Trip to Montreal
From pastry making to champagne bars, here’s how to steep yourself in the city’s culture
Montreal—with its incredible architecture, beautiful green spaces and winning restaurants—makes for the perfect long-weekend escape. Here, we go through some ways you can take your trip to the next level. Choose one (or all!) for an unforgettable mini-vacation.
Upgrade your ride with VIA Rail
Skip the drive and book yourself a VIP ride on the rails. A business-class ticket will grant you access to VIA’s lounge before departure, as well as more legroom, a delicious meal and a complete bar cart. Plus, CAA Members can save 10% on their trip.
Stay at the newly renovated Fairmont
After being closed for a year, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth has re-opened its doors to reveal a $140-million facelift—and it was worth the wait. With a new design that pays homage to the city’s glory days of the ’60s, the hotel has incorporated retro decor with a contemporary feel. Rooms have been expanded and are adorned with bold, pop-art-inspired accents and rich colours, and the beds are exactly what you would expect from a Fairmont: plush, dreamy and the best place to end the day.
The signature Gold lounge on the 21st floor—a Fairmont trademark born in Montreal—has a continental breakfast and view to write home about, for those staying in the upscale Gold rooms. Downstairs, the raw bar at new restaurant Rosélys greets you right after the hostess. The high-contrast black and white floors help provide the perfect backdrop to yet more retro accents—from the lounge-y chairs to the polished silverware—and lead you to the open-concept kitchen. Set to open this fall, an Eataly-esque urban market will be right across the hall and serve as the restaurant’s pantry.
Take a pastry-making class at Patrice Pâtissier
Join a class of up to 12 people taught by chef Patrice Demers, who takes you through the art of creating decadent pastries. Each class offers a slightly different theme—chocolate, maple syrup or citrus, for example—and guides you through three hours of demonstration as Demers offers tips on how to make mouth-watering desserts.
At the end—arguably the best part—you get to eat them, of course. If you can’t swing a three-hour course, at least go for brunch and have a croque monsieur, or pick up some eclairs to go.
Take the plunge at Bota Bota
Set on an old barge that has been completely revamped, this spa offers Scandinavian circuits overlooking Montreal’s beautiful Old Port harbour. Hop from steam room to cool pool to swing chairs to sauna to “waterfall” to hot tub to—you get the picture. The regimen is said to have a whole wealth of health benefits including improving circulation and stimulating your immune system.
Book yourself a massage, facial treatment or just hang out for as long as you like.
Learn to sabre champagne at La Champagnerie
Stop in to try your hand at the ancient art of popping bottles. Don’t be intimidated: a trained guide will carefully take you through the steps. Choose your weapon, find the seam running up the side of the bottle, place the blade at a 30- to 45-degree angle, apply gentle but firm pressure, then swiftly glide the blade upward and follow through, (hopefully) slicing off the top of the bottle. Don’t worry if you don’t get it on the first try, you’ll get to enjoy the bubbly—eventually.
Snacks are available, and they even have an over-the-top seafood poutine—if you’re not saving your appetite for dinner.
Sit and savour your dinner at HVOR restaurant
Get ready for an experience of the senses. This beautiful space near Griffintown is as fresh as the herbs they grow on the rooftop. (Ask for a tour of the garden—including HVOR’s very-own beehive — before or after your meal.) You can order à la carte, but it would be wise to put your trust in the tasting menu paired with wines. This multi-course dinner can be a two-hour experience, and each dish is more beautiful than the next—thoughtfully prepared, hyper-seasonal and masterfully paired with wines that will surprise and inspire.
Each night is different, but expect a string of ultra-creative vegetarian, fish and red-meat dishes, ending with a dessert that will do the entire meal justice.
Have a nightcap at Nacarat
Conveniently attached to the Fairmont, this elegant bar is a must-visit—even if you’re not spending the night at the hotel. The open concept is meant to imitate the stations of a restaurant kitchen, and the decor pays tribute to glam rock. Headed by world-renowned mixologist Nader Chabaane, the menu offers a variety of intriguing twists on cocktail classics.
Our recommendation? Order the Negronen, made with mescal, cognac Hennessy and vermouth, bitters and amaro. The concoction is smoked in a glass box that, when opened, releases satisfyingly smoky billows. Pretty dramatic. Pretty perfect. Pretty luxurious.
Looking to explore more Canadian hot spots?
Check out our guides to Toronto, Jasper and Tofino.