We’ve all heard the French phrase “je ne sais quois,” meaning that special something that’s hard to name. But did you know that you don’t have to cross the pond to find it? In the Canadian city of Montreal, that ideal blend of vibrant history and hospitality is all around you. Forget “je ne sais quois”– we’ll take all things Québécois any day. See below for our complete weekend guide to Montreal.
Where to Stay:
With flights to Montreal clocking in at around an hour from most major Northeastern cities, you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the city itself instead of the inside of an airplane. Check into the contemporary chic W Montreal, a 152-room-and-suite spread in the city’s Downtown area- a luxe escape with a prime downtown location that’s just a few streets over from Old Montreal, filled with cobblestone streets and historic buildings. You can spend hours strolling neighborhood, located right on the St. Lawrence River. If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel for your next getaway to the city, head to the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal.
What to Do:
Just around the corner from W Montreal is the Royal Bank Tower, an exquisite, neo-classical building that has recently been converted into a co-working space and coffee shop known as Crew Collective. The mesmerizing history of the space is obvious in its 50-foot vaulted ceilings and brass finishes. Continue your stroll around the corner to Cafe Balance, where you can grab a latte right from the barista’s hand through the window. Do yourself a favor and grab a pound of beans to bring back home with you.
Where to Eat:
Montreal knows a thing or two about bagels, but they won’t be the type you’ll find around most of the US. Learn the difference at the beloved St-Viateur Bagel Shop in Mile End, where you’ll find the oblong, hand-rolled bagels of varying height at the shop’s landmark original location. Don’t hesitate when you see a line streaming out the door; it moves fast, and you’ll be free to dig in soon. If you want, head around the corner to Cafe Olimpico for some of the best coffee in town. You certainly won’t be the only guests digging into a dozen bagels from St. Viateur alongside Olimpico’s cafe au lait.
For an upscale night out, Toqué! is a pillar of Montreal’s fine dining scene. Renowned Chef Normand Laprise fosters an environment that’s creative and experimental, with local flavors taking center stage. Don’t deny your sweet tooth at Toqué!, where the dessert menu is filled with delectable offerings like Bahibe chocolate ganache alongside a pistachio oil sponge cake. For a cocktail before or after dinner, visit the rooftop at Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel and savor panoramic views of downtown.
For another taste of Montreal’s luxe life, stop into the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, the first hotel in North America to bear the famed hotel brand’s name. It’s home to Maison Boulud, Chef Daniel Boulud’s acclaimed French restaurant, where you can enjoy your exquisite meal on the outdoor patio. The lush garden oasis is dotted with white swans paddling around in a small pond. If you head to one of the upper floors, don’t skip taking a glance out into the Montreal night sky, where you’ll catch a glance of the giant mural of late musician Leonard Cohen, which graces the side of a skyscraper on Crescent Street.