[updated 07 October 2013]
I will probably get grief for saying that Montreal is a college town with an attitude, but it is. And I loved it here! The mix of English and French, combines with their desire to be independent, makes this just an amazing place to visit for a long weekend (if you live on the East Coast of the US) or even longer!
My trip to Montreal was really quite brief so watch this space for more comments soon.
I don’t normally do this, but given how awful my experience was, I felt that I should share with my readers: do not stay at the Hyatt Regency Montreal. Although the lobby is gorgeous, and the bar quite the happening seen – and the staff are outstanding – the rooms are tired and I would actually say gross. The Hyatt brand should be ashamed, as should the owners of this hotel: I would describe this as a 1990s Holiday Inn-inspired hotel. Trust me, it’s not worth the ridiculous price for the Hyatt name.
Although I have not stayed at either of these hotels, I have had numerous meetings and meals at both so, hopefully, they will live up to their names better than the above and should be worth a try: the Westin Montreal and the InterContinental which are across the street from each other.
If you want cool and funky, with out of this world food – from one of the top restaurants in the city – you must go to Hotel Herman (http://hotelherman.com/). First things first: this is not an actual hotel so don’t be surprised when you rock up to a small restaurant with a bar in the middle and the kitchen in the back. But boy is it worth it! The wine list is pretty good, although a little pricey, but the food is incredible: classic, yet inventive, and every bite delectable. Run here if you can!
If you are in search of probably one of the best vegetarian restaurants that I have ever been to, look no further than ChuChai (http://www.chuchai.com/). There is a restaurant one side of some residential steps and a bistro on the other. Apparently, they have the exact same food, you just pay for the look. Either way, get thee here and order the crispy vegetarian duck. Oh. My. Word. Seriously, I wanted to cancel my dinner the following night just so I could return here. That’s how good the food is! And yes, they have wine!
Another cool place, if you decide not to go to ChuChai every night, is Aux Vivres (www.auxvivres.com). The food is a bit more college level – good, but not overly inventive, and a value for the money – and the restaurant appears to be in a converted chain restaurant of some kind. But the staff were great and the food really was tasty, it’s just the sort of thing that I tend to make on my own.
Recently opened is Invitation V (http://www.invitationv.com/) a lovely vegan restaurant in the Jewish quarter of Montreal. Although the menu is somewhat small, the options that they offer are out of this world. And if repititious thoughts are any sign of how much I enjoyed this restaurant, I cannot get the house-made seitan satay with peanut sauce out of my head!
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore Montreal (some day) but I can say that, without a doubt, the old quarter down near the water is amazing. If even just for a stroll, I suggest you go here just to relax and get a feel for one part of what, no doubt, Montreal has to offer.