Being so close to Toronto, Montreal is a city I’ve spent a lot of time in over the last decade but my most recent visit has probably been my most memorable to date. The W Hotel’s only Canadian property turns 10 this year and to celebrate it’s decade milestone, it’s 152 guest rooms and suites got a sleek new re-design by Martin Ablaza, Associate Design Director of Global Brand Design. To show off their newly designed digs, the W Montreal invited a group of North American media to La Belle Province to an exclusive weekend of design, fashion, art and music – which ironically are all elements that influence the W Hotel properties.
Having stayed with W Hotel’s in the past, I have an appreciation with the thought that the brand put’s into their hotels. They each take inspiration from their surroundings and you can find nods to their respective cities in even the smallest design details. Situated between Montreal’s financial district and historic Old Montreal, the new renovation is a direct reflection of the duality of both old and new. The city’s European influence is apparent with the French classical elements such as; the chevron patters which can be found in both the carpets and in subdued patterns in brass and walnut tables – however the city’s new wave culture is a also a thread throughout the property. When you enter any of the guest rooms, the first thing you notice is the beautiful mural that occupy’s an entire wall and closely resembles the architecture of buildings found in the Old Port. Huge windows allows for all of the rooms to be drenched in sunlight. What is normally an oversight by most of the W Hotel’s competitors, even the smallest of guest rooms creates an environment that promotes in-room entertaining equipped with a chic bar cart in the “cocktail corner” just perfect for any savvy traveler that wants to pre-drink with friends before a night out on the town. My personal faves from my suite are the modern elements – the open concept bathroom (quite large for hotel standards), the oversized work station and the mirrored wardrobe doors that open up to become a tri-fold dressing mirror.
All of the W Hotel properties worldwide employs a “W Insider” whose sole purpose is connect guests to the latest and most exclusive experiences, both in and outside of the hotel. This unique “Whatever/Whenever” service is not to be mistaken for a personal concierge – it’s much more than that. Whether you want a last minute reservation to a Michelin star restaurant at 10pm or tickets to a sold out concert, the “W Insider” on site can make that happen. Sticking to the W brand’s ethos of design, fashion, art and music, Caroline Khangi, the W Montreal’s Insider, curated an exclusive tour for us combining these elements and all within walking distance from the hotel.
I am not kidding when I say I can live off fashion. Like I am serious, I would feel more satisfied buying an outfit than groceries. Montreal has some amazing designers that I adore so I was thrilled to find out that Caroline had planned a very special atelier tour to visit Denis Gagnon, Rad Hourani, and Travis Taddeo. I fell head over heels in love with a black gown from Gagnon’s FW15 Collection and a coat designed by famed unisex designer Hourani, whose designs can be worn by either a guy or a girl. Stepping into Travis’ studio blew everyone away. Drenched in sunlight and with every square inch of the showroom covered in green plants, it just radiated good energy. Plus, he’s basically every cool Canadian girl’s favourite designer. It was also surprising to discover that all of these designers produce their clothing here in Canada.
We stopped into Tommy Cafe + Apero to recharge our bodies and iPhones over a much welcomed lunch break. The food, coffee, and vibes were just the thing we needed before pressing on to check out Phillippe Dubuc and the carefully curated Espace Pepin Home. Filled with the most amazing furniture, household accessories, art and even a tiny vegan cafe in the back, Espace Pepin took me by surprise. Unique in it’s design and layout, Dubuc’s store was filled with the most amazing murals created by famous street artist Zilon. Every single corner of the boutique had something completely different to observe and take in.
Entertaining is one thing W Hotels knows how to do well. On our last night in the city, we were invited to the hotel’s ultra exclusive VIP reception and after party to kick off the official re-design launch. The entire 10th floor was shut down to host the ultimate hallway party with each guest room having a different theme, which you may have caught on my snapchat. There were girls having slumber parties and models dressed in designs from Montreal’s top designers. Everyone in the fashion and art scene in Montreal was in attendance and I even spotted some of the guys from Highsnobiety there shooting images and video. The after party was held downstairs on the second floor bar, Plateau, where we danced the evening away to tracks by Diplo and watched a live performance by the hottest group in Montreal right now, Milk & Bone.
I recovered (just barely) the morning after the party with a quick brekkie with the team before heading out with Caroline and Montreal radio personality Phillippe Fehmiu, to check out the city’s street art that has become so popular on St. Laurent. We also paid a visit to Station 16 Gallerie D’Art Urbaine, which is a must see if you are into art and conveniently located in the art MURAL district. The gallery exhibits work by international artists who are influenced by design, illustration, pop culture, graffiti and street art.
Photography by Melissa Gariepy, W Montreal and my personal Instagram
There was only so much I could cover in under 72 hours in Montreal but I made sure to squeeze in a massage in the hotel’s AWAY Spa before heading back to Toronto. Thank you W Montreal, Starwood Group, Nathalie Marchand and Caroline Khangi for an unbelievable experience that I will not soon forget. I left your Montreal with new friendships and a new appreciation for the city you call home! Want to learn more about the W Insider program and more of Caroline’s fave spots in the city? Check out the video below. Click here for more information on the W Montreal