Europhiles looking for a weekend jaunt ought to investigate a gem to the north. Often overlooked because of its proximity to the U.S., Montreal in Canada’s Quebec province is a veritable European playground, just an hour’s flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Steeped in French tradition, language and culture, Montreal’s cobblestoned streets, historic churches and delectable restaurant scene has earned the destination an affectionate title of “Europe sans jetlag.”
Where to Stay
Luxury jet-setters will love a stay at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, an iconic luxury hotel in the heart of the city. Fly into Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, which is just 30 minutes from the hotel. Private jets can be flown into Saint-Hubert Airport or Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Cool Touch: The hotel was memorialized in music history in 1969 when it hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono during the legendary “Bed-in for Peace,” where the song Give Peace a Chance was composed and recorded. In fact, guests can book the suite today, which is known as the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite, No. 1742. The suite can accommodate up to two people. (We hear other celeb sightings at the hotel include Bill Gates, Tony Bennett, Anne Hathaway, the Dalai Lama and Aretha Franklin.)
But if space is more your speed, we suggest booking the Mont-Royal Suite. Situated on the top floor of the hotel, the penthouse-style apartment has a spacious living room with fireplace, and a bedroom with a deluxe, marble bathroom with jetted tub and separate shower. The suite affords a panoramic view of the city.
Note: Be sure to inquire about the Fairmont Gold experience, the exclusive lifestyle program offered at Fairmont hotels. Guests who are a part of this program have access to a private Fairmont Gold floor, with a reception desk. They are also entitled to exclusive concierges and private butlers upon request.
Reach out to Marilyn Melançon ([email protected]; 514-879-6801), who serves as a liaison to travel advisors.
Looking for something extra special? We hear that the hotel’s concierge team has been known to arrange private jetting experiences to Niagara Falls and back, just in time for guests to make intimate dinner reservations.
Montreal is a hub for traveling gourmets, so it is fitting that the hotel’s restaurant, The Beaver Club, serves up haute cuisine. We hear that The Discovery menu includes gourmet offerings inspired by local produce, and it can be paired with local wines and spirits.
The hotel’s Gibson Salon Spa has four massage rooms and three esthetic treatment rooms. Tip: We hear the Swedish massage is the most requested. Advisors should book treatments one week prior to guests’ arrival. Reach out to Arnaldo Ciarelli ([email protected]; 514-866-6639) for bookings.
Where to Dine
Montreal, after New York, has the most number of restaurants per person than any other city in North America. That’s saying something, with such epicurean hot spots like Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Miami dotting the continent.
|Montreal’s Shops and Restaurants have a decidedly European feel.|
We love Restaurant L’Autre Version on Saint-Paul Street East in historic Old Montreal. The restaurant sits in a building that dates back over 200 years. Inside, the atmosphere is modern and urban, while the back garden is more Provence-meets-Miami with ivy-covered walls and canopied daybeds. The menu consists of fish, seafood, game and foie gras dishes (and an excellent wine list to match). Tip: We had the venison tartare and grilled thazard served “puttanesca” style. Bon!
Also in Old Montreal is Club Chasse et Peche. Serving up a seasonal menu with local ingredients, this quaint restaurant will be sure to please all palates.
What to Do
In the true European spirit, Montreal does not get going until almost noon. Many shops, restaurants and galleries won’t open until late morning or early afternoon, giving the city a sleepy vibe throughout the morning. However, when Montreal wakes up, it is raring to go until the wee hours, packed with a cornucopia of activities.
During the day, explore Old Montreal’s cobblestoned streets and historic waterfront along the St. Lawrence River. This classic neighborhood is home to art galleries, artisans’ boutiques, terraces and cafés.
Get “in” with the in-crowd in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood. This enclave of the city is characterized by multicolored houses and outdoor staircases (and it is this place a great number of the country’s artists choose to call home). Relax in La Fontaine Park or shop in the boutiques along Mont-Royal Avenue.
|Montreal’s restaurant scene is one of the hottest in North America.|
For the designer crowd, we suggest sticking to the downtown area. Sainte-Catherine Street is the boulevard for fashionistas. Starting at Saint-Laurent Boulevard, heading west, shoppers will encounter the Bay, Simons, Birks and Ogilvy, as well as several shopping centers like Les Cours Mont-Royal, Place Montréal Trust, Eaton Centre, Complexe Les Ailes and Promenades Cathédrale. Note: Guests staying at The Fairmont can arrange for a BMW hotel car to provide transportation to the shopping district. Complimentary shopping consultants are on hand at Ogilvy or Holt Renfrew.
Montreal has a popping art scene, as well. Guests can visit Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pointe-à-Callière, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History or Museum of Contemporary Art.