Hotels in Montreal
Montreal hoteliers go the extra mile to make guests feel welcome, at least in part because there are proportionally more hotel rooms here than in other North American cities of similar size, still more are constructed every year, and all these hotels are hoping to have their rooms (there are more than 25,000 in the city) filled throughout the year. With that competition and the continued favorable exchange rate of the U.S. dollar in relation to its Canadian counterpart, this is the place to step up in class.
Accommodations options range from soaring glass skyscraper lodgings to grand boulevard hotels to converted row houses.
Stylish inns and boutique hotels are appearing in increasing numbers, especially in Old Montreal, and several of them are recommended in this chapter. Except in bed-and-breakfasts, visitors can almost always count on discounts and package deals, especially on weekends, when the hotels' business clients have packed their bags and gone home.
Though they don't usually offer discounts, B&Bs boast cozier settings than many hotels, often at lower prices than comparable hotels. Plus, B&Bs give visitors the opportunity to get to know a Montrealer or two. By the nature of the trade, bed-and-breakfast owners are among the most outgoing and knowledgeable guides one might want. For information about downtown B&B's, contact Bed & Breakfast Downtown Network, 3458 av. Laval (at rue Sherbrooke), Montreal, PQ H2X 3C8 (tel. 800/267-5180 or 514/289-9749; www.bbmontreal.qc.ca. As a referral agency for homeowners who have one or more rooms available for guests, this company represents about 30 properties with 46 guest rooms. Doubles are typically C$60 to C$75 (US$43-US$54). Rooms with private bathrooms are more expensive than those that share facilities. Accommodations and the rules of individual homeowners vary significantly, so it's wise to ask all pertinent questions up front, such as if children are welcome or if all guests share bathrooms. Deposits are usually required, with the balance payable upon arrival. American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are accepted.
Quebec's tourist authorities have drawn up a six-level rating system (zero to five stars) for all establishments offering six or more rooms to travelers. No star is assigned to hotels or inns meeting only basic minimum standards and five stars are reserved for establishments that are deemed exceptional in terms of facilities and services. An ochre-and-brown shield bearing the assigned rating is found near the entrance to most hotels and inns. Most of the recommendations listed below are in the three- or four-star categories. The stars that you will see in the reviews in this section are based on Frommer's star system, which assigns between zero and three stars. The Quebec system of rating is based necessarily on quantitative measures, while the Frommer's star ratings are more subjective, taking into account such considerations as price-to-value ratios, quality of service, location, helpfulness of staff, and the presence of such facilities as spas and fitness centers.
Note: Nearly all hotel staff members, from front-desk personnel to porters, are reassuringly bilingual.
Rates -- The rates quoted in the listings in this section are "rack rates" -- the maximum rates that a hotel charges for rooms. I've used these rack rates to divide the hotels into four price categories, ranging from "Very Expensive" to "Inexpensive," for easy reference. But rack rates are only guidelines, and most people end up paying less than the rack rate.
You'll find the highest hotel rates during Montreal's busiest times, from May through October, reaching a peak in July and August. High rates also pop up during the frequent summer festivals, during annual holiday periods (Canadian or American), and when Montreal and Quebec City hold their winter carnivals in February. At those times, reserve well in advance, especially if you're looking for special rates or packages. Most other times, expect to find plenty of available rooms.
Categories -- At most hotels and inns, the price differential from low to high season is rarely more than 15% or 20%, so in the listings, the lowest price is usually for a January stay, the highest for a room in the peak summer months. All rooms have private bathrooms unless otherwise noted. The more luxurious hotels, it should be noted, have stopped providing coffeemakers in their rooms, so check if this feature is important to you.
Taxes -- The provincial government imposes a 7.5% tax on accommodations (TVQ) in addition to the 7% federal goods and services tax (TPS). Foreign visitors can get most of the hotel tax back, assuming they save their receipts and file the necessary refund form. Unless specifically noted, prices given here do not include taxes -- federal or provincial.