Go on over to the travel section on Sympatico.ca to read up on my latest Luxury for Less piece, spotlighting one of my favorite cities in the world, Montreal!
|Rooney. One of the many chic shops featured in Luxury for Less.|
As Canadians, we’re lucky to have one of the most culturally rich and aesthetically stunning cities in the world- Montreal. Lauded as Canada’s “little Paris”, you cannot deny the European allure of Montreal, without the Euro currency. Once in the bilingual city, and after you’ve indulged in La Banquise poutine and both St-Viateur and Fairmount bagels, grab a Bixi bike and hit the 500-plus kilometers of bike lanes that cover the city. There are over 400 Bixi stations around Montreal where you can rent a bike for 24-hours for only $5. Check out bixi.com for a full map of all the stations. With the best and most inexpensive way to explore Montreal in tow, here are some must hits to live it up in the city of style:
LOLA & EMILY
Located on Boulevard Saint Laurent, Lola & Emily has been a stand-by shopping stop for chic labels like Sweden’s Filippa K and Denmark’s Designer’s Remix since it’s inception in 2001. Decorated with antique furniture from India, Lola & Emily carries everything you need from jewelry, bags, and shoes to make your outfit complete.
South of the Boulevard Saint Laurent shopping strip, on Stanley, is a boutique that hits all the right stylish notes. Editorial’s MO is to mix high-end street wear labels with affordable fashion and jewelry lines, creating an eclectic look that many celebrity stylists strive for. Brands from all over the world include Vince, One Teaspoon, and Brandy & Melville.
If there’s going to be one men’s clothing store to hit, it’s Rooney. In Old Montreal, near the Old Port, Rooney specializes in emerging designers that provide everyday classics from the perfect button-down to the perfect pair of jeans with the utmost quality in manufacturing.
For rare finds and big designer names, it is worth the trek to the vintage haven that is known as the Little Shop. Prior to a few months ago, Little Shop operated privately, specifically to set-designers for music videos and huge films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Now, the public can search this tiny house that’s filled to the brim with antique figurines, Victorian hats and lace, and of course the labels… in one go, don’t be surprised to lay your hands on vintage Pierre Cardin, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino and YSL. For prices as low as $25 a top, it’s no wonder that many high-end shops get their supply here.
Further west of the heart of Boulevard Saint Laurent is a new restaurant that prides itself on fresh farm to table ingredients. Lawrence has a new menu daily that will make it tortuous for you to just select one item when ordering. The brunch is particularly spectacular- watch out for the homemade lemon curd donuts.
Le Comptoir is a small and vibrant restaurant with an extremely friendly and hip wait-staff. The menu is written on a large wall-to-wall blackboard in French but don’t worry if you don’t know what a Tarte de Homged is, your waiter will be more than happy to translate. A dinner for 2 with drinks, including the stand-out charcuterie board and at least 3 more items from its fresh daily menu, will come to less than $50 each.
Off the cobblestone streets in Old Montreal, hidden below street level, is TV chef sensation, Chuck Hughes, newest restaurant, Le Bremner. The beautifully decorated space with dark woods and vintage lighting serves an incredible menu of seafood, including Chef Hughes’ obsession, oysters. The brilliantly concocted cocktails like the Pineapple Mojito and Rhubarb Manhattan are also not to be missed.
For a night out in Old Montreal, Philemon Bar is a fun spot to lounge and people watch as the clientele varies from the business-like to artsy types.
Music lovers can basically live at the Sparrow, a favorite of Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, as on any given night, you will no doubt bump into one of the many talented musicians that live in this fine city. The low-key and friendly vide makes the Sparrow a great spot to relax and catch-up with friends.
This unique spa is anchored right on the water of the St Lawrence River in the Old Port.
Bota Bota’s innovative floating spa offers the relaxing and energizing benefits of a water circuit (two saunas with views of the river, a eucalyptus steam bath, and whirlpool baths) as well as massage therapy, body treatments, facial treatments, and manicures and pedicures. During the weekday, with a treatment booking, the water circuit is free of charge, and on Tuesday’s it’s 2-for-1 pricing.
MUSEE D’ART CONTEMPORAIN
Running at the Musée d’art Contemporain from October 6 until January 3, 2012 is the triennial exhibition, now in its second edition. It is the largest event devoted to Québec contemporary art and features 40 artists. On Wednesday evenings after 6pm, the Musée d’art Contemporain provides free guided tours. Located in Montreal’s Quartier de Spectacles, after hitting the Musée d’art Contemporain, you can visit the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde, Le Monument-National, and Place des Arts.
SNOW TOURS MONTREAL
For the more athletically inclined, during the winter months, Snow Tours Montréal guides visitors through the city while enjoying activities like ice skating, snow tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Winter clothing and boot rentals are available and each tour includes a delicious Québécois lunch and a trip to the farmer’s market.
Located in the Quartier de Spectacles, the brand new ZERO1 has 128 rooms with a modern touch that combines top design with incredible comfort. Rooms start at a stunning $140/night.
LE PLACE D’ARMES HOTELS AND SUITES
Right in the heart of Old Montreal is Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites. You can conveniently walk almost anywhere you need from this location- the Palais des Congrès convention centre, Multimedia City and downtown Montreal is only a three to 10-minute walk. The cosy contemporary rooms include free wi-fi so you can stay in the loop.