Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hotels in Montreal: Five favorite getaways in Quebec's largest city

Montreal's Bonsecours Market in Vieux Montreal. Sue Frause photo.
I love nice hotels.They don't necessarily have to be high end, or totally chi-chi, but a few ingredients are key: a great bed, top-notch service and good value. That's easy to find in MontrealHere are a few of my favorites:

OPUS Montreal | Formerly the Hotel Godin, the building that is now home to OPUS Montreal was built by Joseph Arthur Godin in 1914 (and the first poured concrete building in North America). Located on the corner of Sherbrooke Avenue and Boulevard Saint- Laurent, this boutique hotel has 136 guest rooms that are sleek and luxurious, with vibrant colors on the walls. Art Nouveau in style, it features a signature curving staircase, which is no longer in use but may be viewed from the third floor. Notice the Gaudi influences on the corner exterior section of the hotel. Saint-Laurent is the perfect street for shopping or enjoying a meal at one of the many fine restos.

La Place d'Armes | Located in Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal), this was the city's first boutique. It features luxurious rooms, studios with balconies and penthouse suites. There are also fireplaces in every room, complimentary breakfast and complimentary wine/cheese each evening. I enjoyed Rainspa, an urban spa with a hammam, where I had a massage and a pedicure one afternoon. Aix Cuisine du Terroir serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Suite 701 lounge bar is nice for a cocktail or two.

Auberge Bonaparte | Also located in Vieux Montreal, it's a small hotel with 31 rooms. Built in 1886 by architect Victor Roy, it features old stone and shiny wood floors, along with large windows that open out. I had a side view of the Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica, just a few blocks away. The basilica is where Celine Dion was married and where the late Pavarotti performed, as did The Three Tenors. Enjoy breakfast and dinner at Restaurant Bonaparte on the main floor. Chef Gerard Fort has been creating yummy classic French cuisine here since 1991. Ask for a table overlooking rue Saint-Francois-Xavier and watch the caleches go by.

Sofitel Montreal | Don't let the office building look scare you away. The interior of this 258-room hotel is glass and metal throughout, contemporary and light. The lobby features furniture of Quebec cherry wood and a stained-glass window representing a pastoral view of Montreal. I loved the colorful carpet. Thick and hand-woven, it was designed in the style of French painter Fernand Leger and has four themes: Montreal Jazz Festival, Cirque du Soleil, Grand Prix of Canada and Montreal winter sports. Since I sleep around a lot, I give this my VBB Award (Very Best Bed Award). It was like being in a cozy cocoon! The hotel is located near McGill University and in the heart of the Golden Square Mile. Renoir serves contemporary cuisine.

Hotel Le Guilleret | This is a delightful little spot I found in Vieux Montreal on rue Saint-Vincent. Built in 1780, the red and white facade is a favorite of photographers. In 2005, a young couple took over the former printing office, which was also a restaurant, hotel and private residence. When you check it, you receive your own key to the outside door, so you feel like you're living here. The charming 
auberge has a total of three suites and five rooms, all very French with wood floors and six fireplaces throughout. Free WiFi, but bring your own shampoo and robe. A full breakfast is served with fresh croissants, and you can even cook an egg in the open, stone-walled kitchen. If you wish to rent the entire house, it fits up to 22 people comfortably. My room with breakfast was $98. A real find!

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