Montreal is a large, Canadian city with an undeniably unique character. Some describe it as “European”. Other appropriate adjectives may include “artistic,” “creative,” and “vibrant”. However one might describe Montreal, without a doubt, it is special. In part, it’s the stunning architecture in the Old Port, including the breathtaking Notre Dame Cathedral, that creates this impression. And the mingling of languages and ethnicities, including but certainly not limited to French and English. Unique neighborhoods alive with ethnic shops, art and cuisine – perhaps this is what helps to define Montreal. I’m sure that it’s all of the above, and more.
Certainly, Montreal felt to me more than the usual big city, particularly in the summer when we last visited . I’d been there before, in the dead of winter, and in the beginning of spring. And while these seasons showed the city in good form, it’s true that in summer Montreal truly comes alive. The restaurants opened their doors and windows, allowing eating and spirited conversation to spill out onto the streets. Festivals were so abundant, they overlapped one another in time and space. You could not turn around for all the outdoor entertainment and colorful parades. Creative expression was everywhere.
We stayed at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, located in lively downtown. Though we discovered other boutique hotels especially in the Old Port with perhaps more in the way of character and ambience, The Queen Elizabeth was a luxurious, centralized placed to stay. A large, gracious hotel, The Queen Elizabteh is in walking distance from great shopping, restaurants, and the historic Old Port. It would certainly be an ideal location for guests year-round. Add to this its proximity to the world renowned festivals held in the summer, such as the famous Montreal Jazz Festival, The Queen Elizabeth is the ideal place to call home during your summer stay in this beautiful city. Certainly, our comfortably furnished, air conditioned room was a welcomed retreat from our time spent strolling about in the scorching July heat.
Though like us, you will likely want to step out of the hotel and explore the city, there are a few reasons to linger within the hotel walls. For one, there is The Queen Elizabeth’s famous restaurant, The Beaver Club – the definition of fine dining and wine, with a lovely tasting menu (and delectable pastry menu). We had a particularly good room-service experience – one of those evenings where a pizza and a bottle of wine is just what the day ordered! The Queen Elizabeth also sits atop the Via Rail and Amtrak train stations – this is notable not only for commuters, but for all guests at The Queen Elizabeth because of the convenient access to a network of underground shops and eateries it affords. (A good tip in case of a rainy day!)
Some of the palpable character of Montreal dissolves in this hotel, perhaps due to its size – surely the boutique hotels in the Old Port offer a more colorful or romanticized impression of the city. Still, you will not be disappointed in the comforts afforded, the level of service, and above all, the proximity to so much of what Montreal has to offer.