It has been a really tough couple of weeks over here. Between the tragic shooting in our downtown core and an extremely busy work schedule, I have been feeling a bit of burnout. Whenever I get this way I tend to do one of two things: (a) take a break or (b) keep going until I collapse. This weekend, I decided to go with option ‘A’ and hit the road for Montreal for a much needed retreat.
I chose Old Montreal as the location and Le St Sulpice Hotel as my safe haven. The beautiful thing about Montreal is that it’s only a two hour drive from Ottawa, which makes it easily accessible but far enough away that you feel like you’re getting a vacation. Old Montreal is specifically wonderful because of its cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants and history. It truly makes you feel like you’ve been transported to some glamorous European city.
I arrived at the hotel on Friday evening, after doing some trick or treating with Willow, and dropped my car off to valet ($30/day) before heading upstairs to my deluxe suite.
The hotel has a really luxurious vibe to it without being pretentious. You could very easily choose this location for an upscale event or bring your family here for a weekend away to experience Old Montreal. The decor is regal meets art deco — the perfect balance of luxury and contemporary. The staff at the hotel is also incredible. Extremely courteous, polite, professional and willing to assist you with whatever you need. I certainly felt taken care of, which is important when you’re away on retreat, from the time I walked in the door.
The room was incredible. It had a long hallway from the entrance, with a coat closet, that led into the living room area. Off to the left-hand side was a washroom with a full tub and stand up shower and just beyond the bathroom was the separate bedroom. The bedroom had an entrance from the hallway as well as one from the living room.
In the hallway, there was also a kitchenette that featured a Nespresso machine, a mini fridge and three bottles of wine that were available for purchase in-room (I love when hotels do this as there is then no wait or calls to be made when you want to share a bottle of wine with friends). The living room had a sofa, chair, desk and fireplace. The entire room was cozy, warm and inviting (and, as you’ll see, I stayed in the room for almost the entire weekend!)
Friday night I maintained a fairly low profile. Ordered some food in, listened to music and read a bit of a new book. Relaxation was my priority and I made sure to indulge greatly in just that.
Saturday morning I slept in and woke to an ominous sky. Usually when I see dull grey skies I tend to do one thing — stay in comfortable clothes and read a good book with a strong cup of coffee but I was in Old Montreal. The city was begging me to explore it and I didn’t want to disappoint. So, against my natural tendency, I got dressed and headed out to explore the venerable city streets.
As you can see, from the photos I have shared above, it truly did not disappoint. The city offers up such rich and fulfilling imagery and the people inside the city are all strikingly beautiful. It almost feels as though the community and the architecture are working in sync to create a symphony that is filled with pure magic. The wandering was exactly what I needed to satisfy the wanderlust-y part of myself and the shops and nearby restaurants kept me grounded in urban reality.
Due to the weather being a bit on the chilly side, I headed back to the hotel for a short nap and decided that I would try the restaurant downstairs for dinner — the Sinclair Restaurant. It turned out that I was in for a real treat as the restaurant was participating in Montréal à table (an event that happens from October 30th to November 9th,2014) and they had a fabulous menu fixe available.
Although I didn’t bring my camera downstairs to the restaurant, let me tell you that the food was absolutely incredible. I had the Panko-crusted Pacific crab cakes with spicy aioli, tobiko, sliced radish, micro amaranth to start and I chose the Incognito Rouge, from Michael David Winery, to accompany dinner. The appetizer was then followed by the salad course, which featured baby mesclun leaves salad, cranberry confit, orange segments and citrus vinaigrette. It was stunning, really.
For the main course, I had the risotto of pearl barley with beets, Chèvre des neiges mousse, arugula and roasted pistachios and to top off the perfect dinner, I had the revisited Sinclair Tiramisu mousse with a dash of caramel salé. (Is your mouth watering yet? Mine completely is.) Needless to say, dinner was a complete success and I wandered back to my room post-meal in a lovely wine and food induced coma.
I awoke Sunday morning to the most beautiful natural light I’ve seen in a hotel room to date. The way the sun shone into the room, I didn’t feel like ever leaving. In fact, I chose the perfect spot on the couch in the living room and curled up in the sun and thanked the universe that the clocks had turned back an hour and that meant one extra hour that I could spend in the room.
As my final hours drew to a close, I reflected back on how I was feeling in contrast to the way I felt coming into the weekend. I felt relaxed, rejuvenated, at ease and ready to head home and tackle another busy week. Sometimes it’s really important for us to take that time for ourselves and spend it in quiet contemplation. I am so grateful that the St Sulpice Hotel could afford me that luxury and that it offered up it’s hospitality so generously. I will most definitely return to the hotel in the future and can not wait to bring family and friends there as well.
Until next time…