My band and I were only two weeks into a six-week tour that was proving to be one of the snowiest, white-knuckle driving endeavors any of us had experienced. Who knew I needed a drummer that also doubled as a blizzard-defying master behind the wheel? We were ready for a break. Thankfully, just as we entered Montreal, the scowling winter clouds lifted and we were afforded a brief reprieve with flake-free weather.
A change that was much needed, and only topped by our arrival at the Auberge du Vieux-Port, a boutique hotel overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. Winding our way towards the harbor and down a charming cobbled street, the stone facade of this renovated warehouse building with its waving flags and torchlights glistening in the dewy harbor mist, was a sight for our squinty, road-weary eyes.
Greeted by a friendly bellman, our car was whisked away and we were welcomed into the glow of the warm lobby furnished with deep leather couches and hand-loomed rugs. It was as if we’d stepped back into a luxury hotel of a different era – when travel was exotic and meaningful, rather than a means to a business meeting, or, in our case, a gig.
Heading up to my River View King Premier Room, I tried to play it cool, but couldn’t hide my excitement about the postcard-perfect scene of twinkling lights and bobbing boats right outside my windows. The interiors – lofted ceilings, thick wood beams, exposed brick walls from the factory days and a raft of a bed with an antique wrought-iron frame – were worth getting all worked up about, too.
But my main interest was the bathroom. Or should I say the ensuite spa? Heated floors, a massive soaking tub with whirlpool jets and the loveliest bath products I've ever bubbled with. So incredible, in fact, that I later ordered the Essential Elements sea salt and eucalyptus bath salts to be shipped home as a souvenir to Mr Smith, who was sadly not on tour with me.
After a good long soak (which tacked years back onto my life) I met my bandmates for dinner downstairs at Taverne Gaspar, a chummy English-style gastro pub with a Quebec accent. Our waitress steered me in the direction of an earthy cabernet to pair with my expertly cooked filet. We, of course, had to make it an all out meat-fest by going in for the decadent braised beef poutine, too. I mean, when in Rome... or Montreal, ya know?
With a food coma setting in nicely, I returned to my room. Now, in true rock tour-style I suppose it’s expected that I’d be busy clearing out the mini-bar and trashing the room. Instead, I lazed in front of the comforting glow of the modern in-wall fireplace and floated off to sleep on the cloud-like bed.
I woke up refreshed (no small thing when on tour) and, thinking it a good idea to work off at least a fraction of the last night’s overzealous ordering, I set out for a stroll. The concierge drew a helpful map and I navigated the Old City with ease. I strolled down Saint Paul Street, peeking into boutiques and admiring restored buildings, before stopping off at Olive and Gourmando, a cute, local hang serving sandwiches, salads, breakfast specialties, pastries and a gorgeous selection of local cheese. It’s basically that's perfect-anytime-cafe that anchors a neighborhood.
Following a quick (and delicious) bite, I checked in at Rainspa for a rejuvenating facial. The highlight of this two-story spa with 10 treatment rooms was the eucalyptus steam room, for sure. It worked wonders for my tour-worn vocal chords and prepped me for a fantastic show that evening with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
At the risk of disappointing all about the wild out-until-dawn rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the only thing I could think about post-show was returning to my room for another eucalyptus bath in that insanely luxurious tub. I might be the only musician who could turn a tour stay into a spa retreat. Soak, rest, repeat.
But, can you blame me? With a sanctuary of a room and a cozy pub downstairs, I had everything I needed right there. Well, except Mr Smith, which gives me the perfect excuse to find my way back to Montreal and the Auberge du Vieux-Port. If you need me, I’ll be in the bath…