Room with a View, Montreal: Hotel Le Crystal

One of only two five-star hotels in Montreal, Hotel Le Crystal offers contemporary design with classic touches, in a central downtown location — giving it notable contrast to the ornate, antique St-James in Old Montreal. Opened in 2008, the Le Crystal luxury boutique hotel is literally modern to the core, with a green energy system that lowers power in unused areas, from its 131 suites to the 53 condo units in the residential wing (a number of the suites are also for sale).

The hotel lobby makes a striking first impression: Automatic glass and aluminum doors give way to caramel marble floors and counters, jaundice leather sofas, round, heavy mahogany tables and a giant C logo in a frosted glass waterfall. Impeccable.

Just a stone’s throw away are the Bell Centre arena and Crescent Street, Montreal’s mainstream party mecca. Also close at hand are numerous more modest watering holes and restaurants, ranging from high end to fast food. Then again, why not eat in, at the hotel’s two-storey French resto-bar La Coupole, where one of the hotel’s giant crystal chandeliers hangs into the curve of the rounded, transparent stairwell?

On La Coupole’s mezzanine level — the only section, of three, open on a quiet mid-week morning — classic and contemporary décor collide, with white tablecloths, chocolate leather chairs, wood-paneled walls, tiled columns and glass and steel accents, plus a huge display of wines in glass cabinets. In the warmer months, the restaurant’s four outdoor terraces are surely among the city’s most inviting. Adjacent to La Coupole, the modest French bakery/café Millésime competes for the breakfast and lunch crowd.

Upstairs, the suites bear motifs similar to those downsairs, with masculine earth tones extending from sheer chocolate curtains to soft beige carpeting underfoot. All suites feature a separate living area with a sofabed, desk and mid-sized LG TV — the latter is loaded with cable channels and other pay-per-view options, but the unilingual French instructions may prove problematic for many tourists.

In the Superior suite, an identical screen sits on the other side of that TV, behind a glass partition, and facing a king-size bed. The bedroom is tucked into the middle of the suite, with a sliding door providing almost complete privacy. Just outside those doors is a kitchenette and small glass table, with an espresso maker, kettle and all the complimentary fixings for a hot morning beverage, along with the requisite mini-bar, microwave, dishes and corkscrew. Also ensuring high comfort are a fur throw and even furrier heavy blanket, a bathrobe, housecoat and two pairs of slippers — not to mention the large bathroom, with its generous tub and shower stall.

On the 12th floor, the Izba Spa offers all the usual high-end pampering, while the adjacent mini-gym, salt-water pool and outdoor jacuzzi present alternate forms of exercise and leisure. Unfortunately for pool-party people, last call is 10 pm; still, with rooms this nice, that’s just fine. Suites $249–$529, current package deals for two $189–$225.

Image courtesy of Hotel Le Crystal.


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