Well-placed on St Paul Street and overlooking the St Lawrence River, historic Montreal and modern hospitality make bewitching bedfellows at the Auberge du Vieux-Port hotel. Nothing was overlooked in the renovation of this mid-1800s warehouse building loaded with period details like exposed beams, rough brick walls, wrought iron beds and original casement windows that you can fling open to survey the rolling river or cobblestoned streets below.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £151.44 (CA$247), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast; Continental and à la carte options are available at Taverne Gaspar.
Revive after a day of museum hopping or boutique browsing with an in-room massage which can be arranged from neighbouring Rainspa.
At the hotel
24-hour concierge, laundry and dry cleaning, valet parking, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, CD player/radio, minibar, free WiFi, Gilchrist & Soames bath products. Premier rooms also have Nespresso coffee machines.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms have exquisite details harkening to the building's mid-1800s warehouse days, but we can’t get enough of those wide-open water views on the Commune Street side of the hotel. Request a river facing room – like room 204 – a high-ceilinged and airy sanctuary that’s flooded with light.
Binoculars for spying ships floating down the Saint Lawrence from your river-view room or the rooftop bar.
There is no fitness centre at the hotel, but complimentary passes for a nearby gym are available.
Welcome, but not catered to. Under 12s stay free, and cots and extra beds are $23 (CAD $25). The charge for an extra guest (over 13) is $47 (CAD $50) per night. Babysitting can be arranged in advance for a minimum of three hours at $14 (CAD $15) per hour
In the warmer months, the café tables on the river-facing patio are the ideal people-watching perch. Otherwise, settle in near the big bay windows at one of the simple tables with leather cushioned banquette seating.
Even if you don’t speak French, you can still look like a local by draping yourself in a cosmopolitan palette of sharp blacks and grey.
Fashioned after a British gastro pub, Taverne Gaspar’s dining room – with its rough stone walls, tin ceilings and suspender-clad wait staff – has the look down. However, the comfort food focused menu moves beyond the expected fish and chips (on the menu and delicious, though). Dishes such as creamy macaroni and cheese, rich poutine and steak frites give this spot its distinctly French-Canadian accent.
Pop by Taverne Gaspar year-round during dinner hours for a pint of Gasper lager or other local brews. Open late spring to early fall, the rooftop bar, Terrasse Sur l’Auberge, is a summer hot spot. Cool off with a signature Martini Bulles Glace, a bracing blend of Quebec ice cider, vodka and sparkling wine and nibble on locally-focused tapas such as Quebec duck foie gras and beef tartare.
Taverne Gaspar serves breakfast from 7:30am to 10:30am on weekdays and until 11:30pm on weekends. Drop in for dinner from 5pm to 10pm, Sunday to Wednesday, and the kitchen stays open until midnight on Thursday to Saturday. Terrasse Sur l’Auberge (open M
Room service is available from Taverne Gaspar and is based on their daily menu during breakfast and dinner hours when the restaurant is open.
As alluded to by the name, the Auberge du Vieux-Port hotel is located in Old Montreal, the city’s historic district, on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River.
Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau international Airport (YUL) is 21km or a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Direct and connecting flights are available from major US cities and the UK.
Opt for the scenic route and travel by train. Just 10 minutes from the hotel, Central Station (Gare Centrale) is the point of departure for Amtrak service from New York and VIA Rail Canada from Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto.
Taxis and public transportation options are both plentiful, so a car is not necessary if staying put in the city. However, valet parking is available for CAD$36 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
With its well-preserved cobblestone lanes and period architecture positioned right on the waterfront, Old Montreal is ideal for romantic hand-in-hand strolls. For some historical background, walk south down Commune Street along the river and make your way to Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. The permanent exhibits focus on local history and archaeology, and you’ll discover temporary installations exploring history and heritage, culture and the arts. Meander north up Saint Paul to Le Marché Bonsecours considered one of Canada’s finest heritage buildings and now home to the Quebec Crafts Council. Shop for souvenirs at one of the boutiques featuring all Canadian-made wares, tour the handful of galleries and stop for a snack at one of the three restaurants. Beyond the neighbourhood, but well worth the metro ride, is a trip to the lively Jean-Talon Market, a green market that showcases the local bounty and several food stalls for a casual bite on-the-go.
Hip and homey, Olive & Gourmando, (+1 514 350 1083) is just right for lunch (local cheese plates, panini, bright salads) or an afternoon coffee and fresh-baked pastry. Just a five-minute walk away from the hotel, Verses restaurant (514-788-4000) in the Hotel Nelligan is known for French-inspired, elegantly prepared game (venison, partridge) paired with selections from the extensive wine list of bottles housed in their glass wine cellar. Make a reservation ahead of time for the trendy dinner club, Garde Manger (+1 514-678-5044), from celeb chef (he has his own cooking show) Chuck Hughes. The meat-heavy menu changes daily, although there are a few staples – seafood platters and lobster poutine – so bring your appetite and sense of adventure.
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 wizzard 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 rocker style I suppose it’s expected that I should've been busy clearing out the mini-bar and trashing the joint. 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…