Can you ever truly go home again?
Have a new experience in what feels like an old narrative?
As someone who was born and raised in Montreal—I know first hand what a culturally rich and supremely gorgeous city it is.
Living in Toronto for the past 7 years, I still miss the French influence of Montreal, the fresher air (downtown Toronto is condo construction city!) and of course my family and friends.
While I’ve visited frequently since moving, I have never truly experienced Montreal through the eyes of a tourist. I normally come in and stay with my sister at her place in lower Westmount, which was filled with familiarity, and the omnipresence of my late mother who passed 3 years ago.
This time around I planned a *solo* journey (a sojourn if you will) staycation at the W Hotel Montreal, and sis recently moved to the up and coming GriffinTown area. I could no longer fall back on old habits of familiar terrain. This was a concious exercise in getting my brain to make new connections and fire off some fresh synapses. I realize it’s not a foreign country, but Montreal is still a backdrop like no other, and stands up to any European city.
I had a profound intention for the weekend itself. To connect with my deeper self, to soul search and to see my beloved city through a new lens and aperture.
Plus, I love staying at beautiful hotels. There’s always a palpable air that anything can and will happen.
The W Montreal is perfectly situated on historic Old Montreal’s Square Victoria street and proudly faces a poetically landscaped courtyard replete with water fountains and gardens.
The mood and architecture inside The W Montreal drips with sexy and sleek luxury. When you arrive at W Montreal and take in the flora and fauna of dim lighting, bold colours, imaginative seating areas + an endless stream of attractive patrons from all over the world—an internal whisper emerges, “oh yes— this is going to be go-oood.”
I check into my room which features a heavenly Queen sized bed with signature W Bedding. The bathroom boasts high ceilings and Bliss Bath sundries with a spacious Rain Shower. My view faces the spectacular Square Victoria courtyard and already I feel like I’m inspiring my muse to ‘come out and play‘ after a recent spate of ennui and creative stasis.
On tonight’s menu, an early evening visit to the W Montreal’s Away Spa. Upon entering, I already feel like my shoulders have dropped significantly and that time is beginning to stand still. I take in the ambrosial scents of my surroundings while I rake swirley patterns in the exquisite Zen Garden set before me.
Karen, my masseuse retrieves me and brings me into the treatment room for the AromaSoul Massage Ritual. She offers me 4 different scented oils to choose from, and explains that there is a specific massage associated with *each* smell.
I am immediately drawn to the fresh Mediatteranean scent, and she explains that the massage will entail circular motions akin to “waves in the ocean.” Being that I am a Cancerian water-baby, I am tickled by the suggestion.
The oil is first mixed in with Shea Butter and Volcanic Rock Powder for a full body application and exfoliation. Afterwards, I rinse off in a shower and return for the massage portion. The lights are dimmed and the music is a perfect blend of soothing chants and song.
As I let my thoughts wander, I start to make connections and answer questions from within. I see that I am currently riding a wave of opportunity, one that is at ‘ high tide.’ A wash of memories and familiar faces flash-flood over me. Some are more emotional than others, and like a *wave* I don’t judge it, I simply observe it’s natural ebb and flow and go with it. I relax into a blissful state and fall into a meditative dream-like sleep.
When it is over, I tell Karen how I had an abundance of wonderful thoughts and metaphors come to mind. I ask her what sign she is and she answers “a Cancer…” and it did not surprise me one bit. This was the beginning of many-a-synchronicity moment(s) throughout the weekend.
Back upstairs (plush robe still on from spa!) I order up some room service, capped off with an order of homemade beignets with chocolate sauce *and* lemon cream.
*No photos are taken to protect my dignity.
The massage has worked miracles, my skin is silky soft and I fall asleep instantly with remnants of donut sugar kissing my lips. Tomorrow is a big night out and I need my beauty sleep!
Sweet dreams are made of this.
Bonne Nuit! XO
The next morning I wake up bright and early and head off to Montreal’s trendiest new enclave Pointe St Charles aka “The Pointe.”
I enter Café Bloom, and enjoy a sublime latte and some freshly baked treats.
The vibe is über hipster and I feel transported to Brooklyn, NY —except everyone here speaks French and the hipsters are less try-hard and impoverished.
Next up its time to get my hair and nails did. I saunter over to nearby M Salon located in the cooler-than-thou GriffinTown endroit.
‘Adrien’ does my colour and blow out to purrrfection, and my nails, like my surroundings are done super ‘pointe’ styles in an arresting ice blue!
Taking a leap of faith and trying a new salon has paid off! This is now my go-to one stop shop for whenever I come to town! Meanwhile, all of this beautification has made me honnnngray!
Word on the street is that I must try L’Gros Luxe—a local eatery boasting farm fresh ingredients, many a vegetarian/vegan offering and inventive food combinations. It’s around 4:30pm so I’m turning this meal into an early dinner. My sister and I share a vegetarian El Burrito and a Grilled Cheese Poutine and, “yes” it is as delicious as it looks!
Yes, home girl here can eat! *Were you expecting a dandelion salad?!
Tonight at the W Hotel’s Wunderbar I will be attending the Back to Disalvio’s reunion party with DJ Jo Jo Flores at the turntables. Many moons ago, on Montreal’s famed St. Laurent strip, club Disalvios was an epic dance club that brought together people from different cultures and backgrounds all in the name of house, dance and hip hop music. The reunion has been held annualy for the past 4 years, but this is the first time it is being held in the summer and at Wunderbar. I can never extol the virtues of the yearly event enough! It never ceases to be a less-than-stellar evening of marathon dancing and great vibes. I mean who even gets to go out dancing like this anymore?! I cherish it!
Wunderbar is as sexy a venue as they come— an adult playground, really. In fact the entire hotel is a wonderful labyrinth of initmate nooks and crannys, lounges and private bar service. Get lost or found at your discretion, (insert a wink-wink here!)
I dance the night away with old friends and it is exactly the kind of night I need! Except for the having-one-drink-too-many part, and thus in the interest of dignity (again)—no further pictures will be posted!
Waking up is infinitely more challenging than expected—le aging she is a wicked foe! I ring up the concierge and true to the W Hotels ‘Anytime, Anywhere‘ credo—I request some Advil NOW in my MOUTH, or my head will surely explode thankyouverymuch!
Not but 5 minutes later I’m downing a trifecta of tablets with icy-cold bottled water they’ve provided (something tells me they’ve seen this scenario play out before…) as I get ready for a decadent brunch at Être Avec Toi aka ÊAT, just off the main lobby.
ÊAT is a feast for both the senses and the palate. The room is covered in dynamic pop art installations and paintings by a collective of mainly Montreal artists, reflecting the city and its vibrant culture. Read more how this unique concept came to fruition here.
I’m joined by my sister and a round of fresh orange juice and lattes are procured. The music is funky without being overpowering (there’s a live DJ!) and the crowd is cosmopolitan chic. Brunch at ÊAT is nothing short of a work of art in and of itself. The presentations are like mini Pollacks or Rembrandts, the pomp and ceremony unparalleled.
I am following the waiters lead in terms of ordering. ÊAT is very heavy on the seafood which is music to my ears, and he suggests a variety of plates for the table.
We start off with the ‘presentation’ of the Bakers Basket (a cornucopia of gluten-everything) that is wheeled out on a trolley with various compotes and jams.
Actually can I say that everything is presented in various trolleys and pulley carts? It’s quite charming I have to say.
Next up, a Salmon Tatare that is so exquisitely presented it demands a round of applause followed by a moment of silence for this masterpiece set before me?!
We are then brought a cart of champagne elixirs and mixers and enjoy some Laurent Perrier Rosé—hangover helper/hair of the dog coming right up!
Next we get a lobster roll and side salad each, and I’m happily eating and dancing while beaming at everyone in the room.
A couple from NY a few tables over is seat dancing as well and we end up inviting them over to have a drink with us. In another moment of synchronistic you-are-exactly-where-you-are-supposed-to-be/there-are-no-accidents scenario, turns out one half of said couple, *whom we’ve never met* works for a company that I had just been talking about days earlier. The coincidence (there’s more to it, but that’s private) just confirms that there is a divine order to everything and my spirit is buoyed even more (if that’s possible!)
Last but not least we are served a gorgeous Lobster Benedict to share. Our new found friends leave us to enjoy this last offering of our kings feast.
This was an experience and meal for the record books! I leave fully sated (stuffed, really!) with a new set of NY friends, and a wonderful new outlook as I head back TO.
My weekend was a wonderful mix of the new and the familiar. A city has many sides to it, and a new connection can be made just by virtue of what street you walk down. Taking the road less traveled was the purveying theme for this weekend.
Like my city, I can visit my past as a tourist. I can take in the memories and the music, but I no longer live there.
I think the adage that you can never truly go home again is pretty accurate. Home takes on new meaning as you get older, especially when you lose your mother. It can exist in the heavens or within a magpie memory, in ones significant other, or in the smile of your own child. It isn’t one place like it was when you were growing up and certainly isn’t restricted to an area code.
…But man is it fun to visit!
Merci W Hotel Montreal!
P.S. The diet starts tomorrow!