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(Courtesy of Luxist) List (Promo) So if any of you want to take your better half on a nice romantic getaway
A Weekend in Old Montréal November 12, 2007 Nothing could be more romantic than taking a new flame (or an old love) to a European city for a long winter weekend. With the euro pounding the dollar, however, it makes sense to see the cobblestone streets and candlelit cafés closer to home. French speaking and cosmopolitan, Montréal is the perfect proxy for Paris, and a real value with the Canadian "loonie" at one to one with the dollar. Splurge on a limo from the airport (about $50) and settle into a boutique hotel in historic Old Montréal. Your ticket to sure-fire romance is just outside your hotel door. Best spa experience For the ultimate couple's massage in the most curiously cozy of environs, book a hot stone treatment at Le Spa. Converted from a vintage bank vault, the small space oozes peaceful luxury. Candlelight bounces off the brick ceiling, rugged stone walls, and a heated onyx floor. Le Spa in the Hôtel Le St James, 355 rue St-Jacques Most panoramic sunrise With the massive arc of the Biosphere peeking over the distant tree line, the clock tower at the north end of Vieux-Port provides an exceptional backdrop for dramatic morning skies. Gentle currents of the St. Lawrence River flow below your feet as the rising sunlight glistens off the Jacques Cartier Bridge on the near horizon. C'est magnifique! Vieux-Port at Quai de l'Horloge. Best place to sip wine Tuck yourself away in an alcove at Hôtel Le St James' tiny lounge, with its high-backed love seats and dim lighting. Black-clad waiters provide excellent -- but unobtrusive -- service, sliding roasted almonds in front of you and disappearing without a word. An impressive wine list features world-class wines by the glass (for under $15). Most decadent treat Forget the crème brûlée. It's child's play on the splurge scale when compared to Bistro Boris' pommes frittes (French fries). Deep fried in duck fat and dipped in spicy mayo, these fries are pure indulgence. Flickering candles and intimate tables set the scene at this diminutive eatery. Best place to hold hands As dusk fades to night, park yourself on a bench in the Place d'Armes -- across from Basilique Notre-Dame. Royal blue lights suddenly appear in the cathedral's windows and arches, mimicking the color of the darkening sky. Water trickles from the park's central fountain, casting an emerald glow. The effect is stunning. Don't miss a visit to the church earlier in the day. It's intricate interior is wonderfully rococo without being overly ornate. Most romantic cliché Although frightfully unoriginal -- and a bit expensive at $45 for 30 minutes -- an evening carriage ride through Old Montréal is still terribly romantic. Glimmering lanterns along Rue St-Paul and the clip-clop of the horse's hooves on the cobbled streets set the stage for cozy snuggling under faux fur blankets. Carriages line up in front of the Basilique Notre-Dame, 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest. Best reason to wander from Old Montréal Catch a taxi (or hop on the Metro) to rue Sherbrooke Ouest and impress your love with an afternoon of old-world elegance. Take high tea at the Ritz-Carlton's posh courtyard garden. Make sure to ask for a table on the heated terrace overlooking the duck pond. After tea, stroll across the street to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. The collection here features work by local artists and select works from both European and modern masters. Where to Eat The fries at Boris Bistro are a must, and the duck and salmon dishes are well prepared. Three-course meals with wine run $45-$55. Restaurant Gibby's is a Montréal institution. Steak and oysters live up to the hype. Three-course meals with wine run $60-$80. Skip dessert at Chez L'Epicier at your own risk. The menu features a chocolate "club sandwich," with sliced strawberries replacing the tomato, basil for lettuce, and chocolate for roast beef. The pineapple "fries" are sheer crispy sweetness. A three-course meal with wine runs $75-$100. Where to Stay Expedia offers great deals at the delightful Hotel XIX Siecle. Ranging from $125-$165 per night (depending on your travel dates), the rate includes parking and a European-style continental breakfast buffet. The location can't be beat -- it's near Basilique Notre-Dame and Le Spa. Slightly more upscale, Hotel Le Saint Sulpice is also in the heart of Old Montréal. Weekend rates start at $165 for a simple loft suite; $305 for a superior loft suite with breakfast and a spa credit. ---Dawn Hagin
A place to indulge your inner fantasy The opus montreal is a hotel with multiple personalities Mar 30, 2008 04:30 AM MONTrEAL–Remember when getting in touch with yourself involved either recreational drugs, transcendental meditation or, at the very least, a dusty summer of backpacking across Europe? No longer. Today, it's a high-end affair, best achieved at boutique getaways, like the uber-chic Opus Hôtel Montreal. At the corner of Sherbrooke St. and Boulevard Saint-Laurent, where Old Montreal meets new, Opus Hôtel Montreal's 136 rooms and suites evolved from the venerable Hotel Godin, North America's first poured-concrete building. Built by Joseph Arthur Godin in 1914, the sleek art nouveau structure was updated in 2004, by architect Dan Hanganu, who added a modern wing of glass and steel. When Opus Hotel Vancouver owner John deC. Evans bought the property in 2007, the goal was to improve while preserving original elegance. The painstaking process is still underway, as architects work to revamp the fine dining restaurant and build what is expected to become Montreal's largest terrace bar, with dramatic space indoors and out to accommodate both large groups and the chic evening crowd. The Evans family knows hotels. Having already enjoyed great success with Opus Vancouver, they were confident their Quebec version would be well received. "We knew Montreal had the right vibe for this kind of hotel," says Katherine Evans, 27, daughter of John and the force behind Opus Hôtel Montreal's promotion, marketing and food and beverage functions. Opus has quickly become one of Montreal's most stylish boutique hotels, and certainly the only one to offer rooms that enable guests to get in touch with their inner Pierre, Susan, Mike, Dede or Billy. Finding yourself at Opus is a matter of matching decor to desire. Creative interior design that echoes a successful system used at Opus Vancouver has divided the hotel's rooms and suites into five personality collections, each with distinct characteristics. Pierre, for example, is a Parisian designer, in search of a sophisticated sanctuary. The walls of his room and suite collection are deep orange, the furniture, rich dark wood, and the bed coverings a mix of strong, warm textures and patterns. The effect, at once dramatic and urbane, invites you to pour yourself a glass of something very expensive and put your feet up. If the inner you is tender, select the Susan. With walls drenched in periwinkle, soft white linens and romantic silken pillows, a Susan suite is riddled with romance, the white leather settees and ottomans so languorous, you might just drape yourself over them and never leave. Elegant Pierre, romantic Susan, high-powered physician Mike, musician-party-boy Billy and outrageous diva Dede (take special note of the funky toss pillows on Dede's beds) – choose the suite that speaks to your inner self, slip into the robe that awaits in your closet, and head for the bathroom. Every Opus room and suite features a porcelain paradise with not only delectable L'Occitane amenities and perhaps the deepest bathtub you'll ever soak in, but also a personal, hand-held oxygen canister to give brain cells a boost on the road to self-discovery. Continue your self-discovery voyage at nearby Spa Valmont (the only Canadian location of the famous Swiss line) where therapists cosset you in plush terry and provide to-die-for facial and body treatments. Signature products contain the finest salmon roe – like face caviar, it's a decadent restorative. Rejuvenated, celebrate the glorious new you at Opus' Suco Restaurant while Executive Chef Mohammed Zai, recent winner of Quebec's chef of the year award, spins local fare into exotic delicacies. http://www.thestar.com/Travel/article/349113