On a rainy, cold day like today, I think of a warm summer breeze, drinking wine with my husband on a balcony and just feeling happy. One of our highlights this summer was a special trip to Montréal, when we visited my family and my little nephew. We were in town over the weekend, and apart from spending time with the loved ones, also checked out the Montréal Jazz Festival to watch Adam Cohen perform an incredible show. In addition, we stopped by some of the hippest local stores, including Ssense. It was a very memorable trip, in big part because we stayed at the W Montréal hotel.
I have a special history with that property. I have been to all of its restaurants and clubs over the years, have attended many parties that were held at the Wunderbar and the Plateau Lounge, and celebrated many milestones with my family. But, somehow, I had never stayed at the W Hotel until this trip. It was funny, because when we arrived, I felt like I was returning to a home of a close friend, having been there so many times. My husband and I were looking forward to exploring the hotel again — this time, from the hotel guest perspective.
But let’s step back for a second. Earlier that week, I received an e-mail from Caroline Khangi, one of the W Insiders. Take a look at the video below, to meet Caroline.
I was curious about this concept: the W Insider can make specific recommendations on what to do, see or experience in the city, based on each guest’s individual interests. So when Caroline e-mailed me, I had a very specific request: I wanted to know what would be the key shows at the Jazz Festival that Saturday, and also what boutiques we need to check out. I had been to the city so many times that I was curious to see what Caroline would suggest. Her list was quite comprehensive, well-researched and targeted specifically to my interests. She listed a couple of designer boutiques that I wanted to check out for a long time, as well as some that I didn’t even know about. Brendan and I were starting to get really excited about our stay.
We arrived on a Friday night and were pleased to find a handwritten note from the W team in our room, welcoming us. It’s always so nice to see such personalized touches and I really value when hotels do this.
The property has been open since November 2004 and, for most of this year, has been going through a re-design phase. W Montreal is a hip place, so I discussed these changes with the hotel’s marketing and public relations manager, Nathalie Marchand, the following morning. We caught up over breakfast, and she then took us on a quick tour to show how the property is transforming through new updates and upgrades.
The W brand has a well-recognized tagline: Whatever, whenever. It basically means that guests can get whatever they want, whenever they want. Some of the facilities at the Montréal location include a FIT Fitness Centre that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and available on a complimentary basis to all guests. Then there is the Away Spa, which features a very long list of luxury beauty treatments. The W is also one of the city’s pet-friendly properties; in addition, they offer dog walking, a grooming service, and even pet birthday cakes as well as a one-of-a-kind pets’ room service menu, available 24 hours a day. Plus, whenever you stay with your furry friend, the W donates CAD $5 to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The lobby of the hotel is called The Living Room: the concept is that guests can just hang out there whenever they like. And they do: throughout the weekend, we constantly saw people having drinks, chatting, reading the newspaper or browsing the Internet on their iPads there. This part of the hotel also offered complimentary apples and coffee in the morning, as well as fresh fruit-infused water throughout the day, which was especially welcomed considering the heat of that weekend.
We also learned some interesting facts from our tour with Nathalie:
– Bartini is the smallest bar in Montréal, with just six seats.
– All meeting rooms have a bar option, where meetings can essentially be converted into a cocktail-style environment.
– The hotel used to be a Bank of Canada property. That’s why the outside is very simple, while the inside is colourful and trendy.
– Most hotels tend to focus on the bedding, whereas the W puts the bar at the centre: it’s all about cocktails, socializing and mingling.
– All furniture is locally made by Quebec companies.
– Guests can check-in with the W app instead of a traditional check-in at the reception. They also don’t need a key if they use the app.
– The property has seven floors and 152 rooms, making it a real boutique experience.
We really loved our stay at the Wow Suite. It was shaped like a luxury loft, with two floors, a small bar area, a desk area, a stunning shower with glass wrapping all around it, several TVs and a massive balcony overlooking the city. The floor-to-ceiling window made the suite bright throughout the day, and fun for looking out at night.
That’s why my memories of sitting on that balcony with my husband, and sipping on wine while looking at the city in front of us, will always stay as one of the big highlights of 2015.