If you’re looking to fill yourself with the joie de vivre, consider a visit to Montreal (sometimes affectionately referred to as ‘Petit Paris’): it’s the ideal spot for Americans cautiously looking to reunite with their travel difficulties. Compared to the potential stress of jumping over the Atlantic, this city is geographically close, accessible by air, by train – by cruise lines – and still offers that quintessentially old-world romance, robust culture and European heritage.
In a world of post-pandemic travel, cities are once again on the rise and trend – so Montreal is ideal for its plethora of enriching experiences that seek to revive and invigorate your soul. Here are the top choices for where to stay, spa and shop in Montreal.
Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile Hotel: Situated in the heart of the Golden Square Mile District, this hotel is a cultural blend of European charm and American vibrancy. There’s an eclectic vibe but calming demeanor the moment you step onto the property. The rooms (256 of which, including 17 Junior and Executive suites and 1 Opera suite) are generously decorated. A favorite is the Opera Suite on the penthouse, with sweeping views of Mont Royal. Meanwhile, this room features floor-to-ceiling windows, a separate living and work area, a marble-clad bathroom, and a separate bathtub with Balmain amenities.
Relaxation can be taken to the next level with the Appia Nomad Spa in the hotel room – where massage services are brought to you. Top options include the little-known baby/toddler massages, as well as facials (for adults) that use all-natural specialty products to melt away your problems.
Go with room service and order gourmet Renoir dishes: French cuisine brimming with international elegance and an overarching holistic philosophy. Its inventive dishes, conceived by Executive Chef Olivier Perret, use local ingredients with favorite menu items like Atlantic salmon tartar, refreshing gazpacho that highlights Quebec’s local tomatoes, and its detoxifying juice of kale, pineapple, celery and ginger.
Finally, leave your smartphones back in the room and savor the moment with one of your creative drinks or handy mocktails at La Terrasse, your garden-enriched patio overlooking Sherbrooke Street.
Montreal is known for its très chic style – so naturally, it abounds in many fashion-inclined spots.
Ruse boutique: As someone who is a huge fan of sustainable luxury – I love that there are a bevy of treasures in this store, owned and operated by Charlotte and Eddyne since 2015. With familiar and beloved names like Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and more – perhaps the most fun is visiting and discovering some coveted pieces like this caramel-colored Hermès Kelly Retourné; Dior summer-ready sandals; and jetset-ready Fendi Zucca monogram coated canvas travel bag.
BKIND: Founder and CEO Marilyne Bouchard created this beauty company with an emphasis on sustainability. Using her expertise and experience as a microbiologist, she founded her company in 2014, developing eco-friendly cosmetics for sensitive skin. Her bestsellers include this Superfruit Facial Moisturizer enriched with Mango Butter, Apricot Oil and Pomegranate Seed Oil; natural coconut oil and lavender body lotion; and plant-based/toxin-free nail polishes.
SSENSE: Founded by three brothers Rami, Bassel and Firas Atallah in 2003, this company specializes in luxury designer clothing and street style editorial brands. Although they are primarily an e-commerce store, they do have a physical store in Montreal, just steps away from the iconic Notre-Dame Basilica. Art installations, events and personal shopping services are just some of the attractions to visit in person. There are hundreds of brands on offer here that cover women’s, men’s, home, pets, technology and more. Currently exclusive resources include this Cycle collection and Fear of God Essentials Core Collection.
General Magasin: Situated in Old Montreal, this beloved boutique has been offering dreamy wearable art for over a decade. Everything exudes a warm feminine touch that graces jewelry, sunglasses, bags and lifestyle items such as stationery and accessories. The store also has a general store that includes home decor, accents, eco-friendly products, and more. Favorites include this Emily in Paris-inspired collection and the Ayla Bar signature earring collection.
Spa and Zen
As an important source of life, Montrealers have always been incredibly respectful of water – after all, the city is embraced by the St. Lawrence River and Lake of the Two Mountains. As a result, many spas here echo and honor these waterways, whether through their conscientious philosophy, business approach and/or service.
Boot Spa-sur-l’eau boot: This former ferry and theater boat from the 1950s/60s has been reincarnated into the famous ‘floating sanctuary’ that it is today and is now known to guests as Bota Bota spa-sur-l’eau. This spa is a transformative place of rebirth and rejuvenation. Since 2010, this serene retreat has strived to provide guests with a thoughtful approach to wellness.
President and CEO Geneviève Emond explains that they developed a specific approach to thermotherapy and explains its wellness benefits: “Our water circuit is central to our operations and our most popular service. It comprises our circuit of saunas (4), steam baths (2) cold dips and showers, as well as our wide range of indoor and outdoor relaxation areas and outdoor pool and Jacuzzis.” Along with massage therapy and other holistic packages – it’s all topped off with panoramic views of Montreal and the Saint-Lawrence River as you relax on your expansive terrace.
Namkha Cafe and Yoga Studio: This space offers a modernist triad of Zen and features a cafe, comprehensive yoga/meditation studio, and self-service boutique. With its light-filled environment, you can sip your favorite beverage, keep the flow with wellness and yoga practitioners (pro tip: classes and passes are perfect for visitors on the go), and even stock up on wellness products. such as face mists, essential oils, equipment and more.