Stay and Eat over the holidays in these elegant downtown hotel -restaurants Old Montreal is gussied up to its finest, with snowy streets and twinkling lights and all the romance you could ever want. So hunker down in one of the city’s glam hotels and check out the holiday menus at some of the city’s best restaurants, that you can slip into without weathering the wind outside… If I were coming to Montreal for the holidays, I would want to stay at the Hotel St-James, and I would want to eat Christmas dinner at XO, one of Montreal’s top-rated restaurants. The St-James is old-world elegant at any time of year, but over the holidays, the soaring 19th-century roo is in its element.
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A Akin to Barney’s and Saks in the U.S., Shoe Mart in the Philippines, Seibu in Japan, El Corte Inglés in Spain, and Selfridges in the U.K.; downtown Montreal has her own fancy department stores. Three major ones are La Maison Ogilvy, The Hudson’s Bay Company, and Holt Renfrew. I encourage shoppers and visitors to visit all of these beautifully historic “cathedrals of commerce” whose turn-of-the-century architecture reinforces the adage, They just don’t build ‘em like they used to.
Montreal’s public farmers’ markets are not only places to do your grocery shopping, but also gathering places for the community. The market is also an ideal place to seek out the ingredients for a traditional or modern holiday feats—Foie Gras half-baked in a terrine is a traditional Christmas treat from the Old Country, and these days, chefs around town like to sass it up with maple syrup, ginger and ice wine.
The Hilton Montréal Bonaventure was built back in the day to accommodate the wave of foreign folk who would come for the International World Fair: Montréal’s fabulous Expo 67. Some 40 years later, this 395-room hotel has certainly been around the block, and then some.
Winter is the traditional season for oysters, though Maestro owner and Maitresse d’hotel Ilene Polansky reminds us that the thing about only eating bivalves in months ending in “r” went out when refrigerated transport containers came in. But December reminds us that oysters are delicious, so we satisfied our craving the other night at Ilene’s Montreal classic, Maestro S.V.P.
The MAC Boutique offers a choice of unusual gifts. Whether you are last minute shopping for house gift to give to a client, for your family or for friends, you will find unique pieces here.
Planning to come to Montreal before Christmas? Friends and family back home are into food and restaurants? You’re in luck: this city is a veritable treasure trove of gifts for the seen-it-all-tasted-it-all foodie. Champagne? T.V. chef cookbooks? So déja vu! Here are a few presents that would make any food-lover happy:
I love that when I go out in Montreal I can get Mad Men fancy and dress up to the nines (look for my earlier post “Get dolled up at Bleu Blow Dry and Rouge Nail Bar”) – or just tie my hair up in a ponytail, dress down, and nevertheless go out and have a good time. When I feel like doing the latter, which is most of the time, there are two new spots on my radar.
I’ve raved more than once about my favourite little beauty bars where I love to treat myself and get my nails done. Vanity is a curse; I know. So, when mini-Montreal chain Rouge Nail Bar opened up a “sister concept” – Bleu Blow Dry Bar – right next door to their Fairmount location, my first thought was, This is a match made in heaven. Or was it, Thank heaven!
Though your uncle’s eggnog-fueled Bing Crosby impression has its place, one of the most magical parts of the holiday season can be found in the music that defines it. Here are some of highlights of Montreal’s Christmas Concert lineup…