Where to stay for a week in Montreal?
April 11, 2013 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a 10-day vacation with my girlfriend in Montreal in July, with a couple of days at the end in Quebec City. I bought all the guidebooks, but maybe the hive mind has a better idea which neighborhoods are good as a home base in Montreal for exploring.

We like eating delicious food, drinking delicious beer, seeing interesting art, walking in beautiful places, and just generally exploring and getting to know a place. We aren't planning on renting a car, so it's nice to be somewhere that has plenty of things within walking distance.

Ideally I would like to find an weekly rental; we have done that in other places and it has worked out well. Mostly I am looking for a recommendation for an area to narrow down my search for a place to stay, but any advice is appreciated. Pointers to local craft beer are especially welcome. (We were very disappointed that Unibroue doesn't offer tours.)
posted by overleaf to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (20 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Mile End or the Plateau (Mile End being basically the north end of the Plateau...slightly posher) would be the obvious, but still probably best, answer if you want to experience the best of Montreal.
posted by Flashman at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I stayed here last summer, which seemed well-located (though I admittedly didn't do many non-work things while there), has weekly rates and (most importantly from my perspective) has kitchens.
posted by hoyland at 6:55 PM on April 11, 2013

Best answer: This sounds like a possible beer experience for you.

The Mile End isn't posher than the Plateau, but it's more English-speaking on average and has, along Saint-Viateur, Bernard and Park Avenue, pretty much all the necessities of life. If you can airbnb a place in the Mile End or western Plateau area you'll be in clover. Book soon – July is peak time here. If you end up staying in the downtown area, the 80 bus will zip you over to the Mile End in minutes.
posted by zadcat at 7:01 PM on April 11, 2013

Unibroue doesn't offer tours? Boo. They do have two restaurants though.

There's also McAuslan/St-Ambroise. Not sure about tours, but they have a terrace on the canal.
posted by CKmtl at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2013

NB a "terrace" is what anglo montrealers call a patio, because in French it's "terrasse".
posted by zadcat at 7:15 PM on April 11, 2013

Best answer: Dieu du Ciel is definitely one of the best brew pubs in town. It's in the Mile End.

As for a place to stay, Mile End and Plateau or the eastern side of Downtown (let's say east of St Laurent street, although the place hoyland suggests would work too).

Montreal is actually pretty compact (at least as far as the interesting parts are concerned). It's really easy to get around on foot, by public transportation or by bike (a short term Bixi membership might come in pretty handy). So it might not matter much were you are staying, as long as it's near Downtown C(entre-ville).

This craigslist page has interesting offers
posted by bluefrog at 7:40 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: No one has mentioned the Old Port, where I live. It is right by the riverfront, which is a tourist (and local) entertainment destination. There a flocks of museums and Montreal's top English theater. Right next door is Chinatown. Up from Chinatown is Place des Spectacles, where there's a few more theatres and an opera house. To the West from there is all the mall shopping; to the East is the Plateau, which is full of hipsters and boutiques.

The Old Port has expensive hotels, but who knows what sort of airbnb's you could find here.

The Plateau is fun, and so is Mile End. Outremont is fine. Westmount is not the real Montreal experience.

Definitely get a Bixi and bike everywhere. Bixi has an app, too.

Local craft beer: Dieu du Ciel! is indeed fantastic. L'Amère à Boire is not bad. Cheval Blanc is not at all bad. Reservoir has some great beers too.
posted by musofire at 8:15 PM on April 11, 2013

Oh -- July is Jazz Fest (centered on Place des Arts) and Just for Laughs. Montreal has 177 festivals, most of them in the summer. Get on top of what festivals are running before you arrive or you'll be swamped.
posted by musofire at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had good luck using airbnb last summer in Montreal.
I also endorse the Plateau / Mile End
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:52 PM on April 11, 2013

I stayed here on my honeymoon last October, and really liked it. The hotel was great, quirky, clean, good breakfast. It's a minutes walk from the Lucien-L'Allier metro station, and a short walk from Brutopia, which was awesome!
posted by chrispy108 at 12:33 AM on April 12, 2013

You can just walk up Parc or St.Laurent to get to the Mille end from downtown. Stay on parc to Jean-talon and walk "west" for great Indian food.
posted by ServSci at 4:12 AM on April 12, 2013

St-Ambroise does have a tour. It's a bit pricey at $20, but it's excellent value. Best brewery tour I've ever been on, and the tasting at the end is generous!
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2013

Cityboy and I stayed in a Montreal airbnb offered by Joanna Dessaux last autumn. She oversees several places, and was just wonderful. We stayed near the Old Port, a fabulous location. Parking was problematic so Joanna offered us her own personal parking space near her home for the week we were there, at no charge. She helped with maps and even changed some dollars for us to Canadian so we could take the bus back to the apartment.

We used bixi or public transport - or walked most places, we were so well located. The one thing that would have made our trip perfect would have been the names of a couple of great restaurants. The ones we tried were OK, but I'm sure there are great places we just didn't know about. Make sure to try the maple ice cream at the little store in the Old Port district that specializes in Canadian goods. It has chunks of maple sugar . . .

Don't miss the botanical garden!! We went for what we thought would be a morning, and were tearing ourselves away as they closed.
posted by citygirl at 10:42 AM on April 12, 2013

Not much more to add except to suggest staying in Mile End if you can. If you do, make sure you grab some bagel's from St Viateur or Fairmount Bagels. Dieu du Ciel is amazing and you should totally go there. Cheval Blanc is a nice little brewpub as well.

If you are staying on the Plateau or in Mile End, don't bother with the car. Walking and public transit are easier.
posted by sauril at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great ideas! In my fantasy world, I would stay at Habitat 67 and pretend I was living in the distant future. But Mile End or Plateau sound promising.

Is taking the train to Quebec City reasonable? We are planning to fly home directly from there.
posted by overleaf at 11:57 AM on April 12, 2013

Best answer: The Mile-End is definitely the place to be in terms of walking around, café lounging and people watching. Lots of used bookstores, fruitstands, vintage shops and some galleries. Avenue du Parc has some terrific restaurants (Kaza Maza is one of my favs), as does Laurier. If you stay in the Mile-End and wish to venture downtown, I highly recommend, as someone mentioned above, to rent a Bixi and bike down. Bixis are available all throughout the city and cost 5$ for a 24 hr pass (you just have to be sure to park the bike after 45 minutes or there are extra costs).

Some suggestions:

-Park Lafontaine is undoubtedly my favourite park in the city. Go around sunset. Grab a croissant, some cheese, a bottle of wine, and you'll likely catch a live performance or two.
-The Sparrow is a great bar on St. Laurent in the Mile-End
-The St. Ambroise brewery is definitely a great time, though a little out of the way, as it's along the Lachine Canal. But if you like long walks, that'd be a great afternoon activity.
-Take advantage of all the bring-your-own-wine restaurants in the city. There are many on Duluth in the Plateau.
-I find the Pointe-à-Callière museum in the Old Port pretty great, and it will give you a good "Montreal history" synopsis, if that interests you.
-Restaurant La Banquise in the Plateau serves poutine exclusively, many different types to choose from, and is a go-to spot for any post-bar munchies (they stay open very late)

Feel free to IM me for any specific questions! Have fun!
posted by hollypolly at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2013

The train to Quebec is just shy of 3 hrs. If you book in advance it could be as cheap as $43 each, one way, but could be more depending when you book and other factors, have a look.

The intercity bus between Montreal and Quebec is perfectly fine, there are more departures than the train (which has 5 daily) and it ends up in exactly the same station in Quebec. It seems to cost about $55 one way.
posted by zadcat at 1:03 PM on April 12, 2013

Take the train to Quebec City! Way better than taking the bus, and you get to go over the Victoria Bridge and Quebec Bridge!
posted by Vindaloo at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2013

My fiance and I just spent a weekend in Montreal. We got a place in the Plateau neighborhood on AirBNB for $80/night that was perfect. If you go, we'd highly recommend Lombardi for dinner one night.
posted by ewiar at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2013

I was in Montreal several years ago and only for a few days. I do remember having a nice time staying at Hotel Gault though. It was a really cool space, great breakfasts and a fun enough part of town for us to walk around in.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 5:01 PM on April 12, 2013

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