Loews Hôtel Vogue Montréal
1425 rue de la Montagne, Montreal; loewshotel.com; 142 rooms from $169 a night.
People who travel for work are often the envy of those who are chained to their cubicles. This is foolish. Yes, corporate jet-setting carries an element of glamour – but it is more likely to be chock full of mediocre room service and dreary isolation. A lesson in how to make things better for road warriors – those of the female persuasion especially – is found at the recently renovated Loews Hôtel Vogue Montréal. Make no mistake: It is also makes for a lovely vacation. But it seems to have business travel down pat. For starters, the WiFi is free throughout the hotel. Hallelujah.
Directly across the street is Ogilvy, a Montreal retail icon and an easy place to blow thousands of dollars on one outfit to celebrate sealing the deal. Ditto Holt Renfrew, just up the street. For those without expense accounts, the less pricey wares of rue Ste-Catherine are just seconds away. This is the joy of staying downtown: Pretty much anything you'd want to do is close at hand. You can walk to some of the finest restaurants in five minutes, Old Montreal in 30 minutes and the Bell Centre is less than 10.
Evidence of the $10-million revamp is most noticeable in the lobby area, where an entire staircase was removed to create a more airy and social space. To one side is the hotel's refreshing take on a business centre. Guests can work at a communal table or sit closer to the window, basking in natural light while working at comfy sofas equipped with small desks and outlets. (Another nice little perk: free coffee sits nearby.) Freed from the confines of the in-room desk, you might actually meet a fellow frequent flier. If that happens, head to the discreet lobby bar tucked away behind the front desk.
Rooms have a definite feminine feel, starting with the colour scheme of soft greys with hints of mauve. A small entryway shelf for dropping off keys and lipsticks is a welcome touch and framed vintage Vogue covers provide just the right touch of sophistication.
But, oh, the bathrooms. Bless the bathrooms. They are a woman's dream come true: huge, with a deep Jacuzzi tub, flat-screen TV, lush robe, giant mirror, terry-cloth-covered stool and a proper hairdryer. You could spend hours in this bathroom, primping, preening or just indulging in some bubbles and The Bachelor and letting the stress of a busy day slip away.
If I could change one thing
That blessed escape is, however, also home to the one thing that needs fixing as soon as possible. The shower is a sad little glassed-in stall, with the hotel's old name still embossed on the door. The flow is, meh, and it's dark in there. Also, the toiletries are generic. Management says that upgrading the showers is at the top of the priority list for 2014. Let's hope so.
Eat in or eat out?
If the client isn't footing the bill for dinner, the onsite restaurant La Société Bistro (actually a Toronto export; the original location is in Yorkville), is a convenient option. It is a beautiful new version of the classic Parisian hangout, all dark woods, inviting stained-glass doors and tiled floors. The menu offers a reasonably priced selection of standbys (moules frites for $16; duck confit for $24). But the 30-seat bar is what really shines, both literally (the zinc counter) and figuratively (delicious, imaginative cocktails).
The writer was a guest of the hotel.