Hotel Gault, in the heart of Old Montreal, is one of the city’s most unique luxury stays. Set in a fully restructured historic building, reinforced against earthquakes with injected concrete, its aesthetic is less ancient than other Old Montreal hotels. By the time Montreal design firm YH2 began work on the project, the original structure had already been transformed through time – it was used as offices and storage space, and few of the original elements were recoverable. The result is a historic exterior and a spacious, gorgeous interior oasis of peace and tranquillity whose aesthetic is mostly contemporary. We spoke to YH2 designer Marie-Claude Hamelin…
What was you role on the project? When the client bought the building it had been offices and storage space. There were suspended ceilings, you couldn’t see anything of the original design. So we came in alongside another architecture firm that did the exterior. Our goal with the interior was to see what original elements we could preserve. There were very few: mainly the wrought iron columns. The building dictated much of what of what we could do with the project – the windows, the height of the ceilings, there were a lot of variables that made the project interesting. There are something like 30 rooms and 20 room types.
What was your overall vision for Hotel Gault? We wanted to create a contemporary design among interesting original elements. And we were going for a classic feel; even in our choices of contemporary furnishings, even when we chose playful designs and pop colours, we went for contemporary classics like the Paulin furniture in the lobby and the Bertoia designs in the guestrooms.
How did you conceive of the guestrooms? We tried to make the rooms as open as possible. There are luxury hotels that have rooms with two bathrooms, living rooms, etc. We wanted on the contrary to create open spaces, with a bathroom that opens wide onto the room. We also sought to create mobility, so that the guest can organize his room like he wants. To work he can move his desk towards the window, but if he’s there for pleasure, he can store it away against the wall. There are big curtains that you can draw to create a dressing room, or to make the bathroom space bigger. We like that idea of play, of adaptability. In terms of colours, we wanted to create the impression of multiple environments; we created these sorts of interlocking shells, so that on this side you’re surrounded by stone or ceramic, while on this other side it’s wood. It was our way of organizing space.
How did you approach the common spaces? For us, luxury is space. Time and space. Time we addressed with the furnishings, which we wanted to look timeless; and space, we wanted open. We didn’t want a series of small salons, like you can get in many luxury hotels. The salon we made is open onto the lobby, and distinct only because of one of those shells I was talking about. We structured the space simply by changing the materials so that the guest feels he’s in a completely different environment.
What’s your favourite spot in the hotel? Room 220. It’s big, the bathroom opens right into the room, it’s full of different materials, the ceilings are really high – and it’s a corner room so it has three big windows. But I also love the small central rooms we did with curtains behind the bed.
What’s the first thing you’d recommend that visitors to Montreal do? Go to the Chalet on top of Mount Royal. It’s the best way to understand the city; you see everything from up there, the St. Lawrence, downtown. After that all you need to do is walk around.
Hotel Gault, 449 Rue Sainte-Hélène, (514) 904-1616
Montréal Sweet Deal Package available at http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Offers/Fall