Some of the best ways to truly treat yourself are right here in the heart of the city- Montreal has more than its share of gorgeous, comfy Scandinavian-type spas—some of them with views so good, they’re an ideal spot from which to watch the seasons change. Below, Montreal Buzz takes a dip in the heart of the city…
Bota Bota: This unique waterfront spa, a sleek and stylish space renovated from an old riverboat, is now permanently moored on a pier at the end of McGill street. The spa offers the usual spa services—massage, pedicure, facial etc—as well as an extensive water circuit, including warm pools (a recent visit proved the pools were lukewarm in summer, perfect for an afternoon dip) as well as a eucalyptus steam bath and two saunas with panoramic windows.
Which brings us to the most memorable thing about Bota Bota—you really can’t beat the view. Lounging around the whirlpools on several decks of the spa, gazing at Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 and Parc Jean-Drapeau to the South, and an expansive view of the Old Port and Montreal’s skyline to the North, is an unbeatable way to spend a late-summer afternoon!
Strøm Nordic Spa: Strom Spa Nordique is a sprawling, landscaped natural space (termed the “mini-putt course of Montreal spas” by my husband on a recent visit) that offers a forest hideaway on Nuns’ Island, minutes from downtown Montreal. Floating in one of the hot pools watching late afternoon turn to nighttime, as they light the tiki torches when the stars come out, gazing into the Lac des Baltures as the alders shiver overhead—you can barely believe you’re this close to the city.
The evenings have a bit of a happy-hour vibe, as the bar serves wine and beer as well as smoothies and granola—and they’ve started offering occasional late-night spa visits as well, with martinis, lounge music and soaking pools open under the stars til 3am. Their brand-new lakeside stilt-tent massage-room setup (heated, for Fall rendezvous!) is a great way to experience massage, while you listen to the wind rustle in the trees.
Spa Scandinave: This spa is especially urban—isolated from busy de la Commune street by only a frosted window, it somehow gives the vibe of a quiet, zen sanctuary completely removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown while right in the heart of the action. In the traditional smarts of a Scandinavian spa setup, the space is mutable with the seasons: on a sweltering day, it’s shady and cool, and on a chilly day, it’s inviting and warm—the changeability and smartness of the space is maybe the reason it won a Governor-General’s award for architecture this year!
From a large warm soaking pool, complete with therapeutic waterfall, to the highly-enforced no-talking policy and the leatherette beanbag mattresses scattered around the lounge area (where they make a mean berry smoothie), Spa Scandinave is serious about relaxation.
Bota Bota, 358 Rue de la Commune West, (514) 284-0333
Strøm Nordic Spa, 1001 Boulevard de la Forêt, Île-des-Soeurs, (514) 761-2772
Spa Scandinave, 71 Rue de la Commune West, (514) 288-2009