Some cities go into hibernation in the winter, but Montreal embraces it, pouring another drink or dishing up another plate of meaty sustenance for every degree the thermometer drops. Plus, downtown’s 20 miles of tunnels help you beat the cold as you traverse the city.
Check in to Hotel Gault, a contemporary remodel of a heritage building in Old Montreal. It’s spacious, bright, thankfully free of historic chintz and furnished with modern design -classics from Eames and Bertoia.
Bundle up at nearby Rooney, which carries rugged stuff for guys such as vintage Levi’s jeans, National Athletic Goods sweatshirts and Stanley & Sons bandannas.
Food is fuel at locally loved Schwartz’s, a classic deli that for more than 80 years has served smoked-meat sandwiches packing a garlicky punch. You’re in Mile End, the old Jewish neighborhood that has spent the past decade or so morphing into a lively mix of artists, musicians and artisan stalwarts; it’s equal parts Hasidic sidelocks and latte foam art. Here Boulangerie -Guillaume offers the best damn bread in the city. Order a white-chocolate brioche and hot cup of coffee, then make your way to Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore to peruse graphic novels, independent comics and anthologies.
These days one need only look for abandoned warehouses in a neglected industrial zone to know where the next up-and-coming -neighborhood will be born. In -Montreal it’s the no-man’s land between Mile End and Parc Extension. The sign of hipsterdom to come? Well-appointed mustaches. Emporium Barber is filled with hirsute, straight-razor-wielding gents ready to smother you with hot towels and hangover treatments. Take a quick side trip to nearby Dinette Triple Crown, a beat-up take-out counter with a few stools and hot dishes served by cute girls in pinafores. Get the johnnycakes topped with crispy pig’s ear, maple syrup and crème fraîche. Then see what’s going on at Casa del Popolo and La Sala Rossa, cultural-rec-room slash live-music venues for indie, free jazz, rock-and-roll and soon-to-be-big Canadian acts.
Ready for a proper meal and nightcap? Grab a seat at La Salle à Manger for a modern take on carnivorous -Quebecois cuisine, then head over to Baldwin Barmacie for a well-crafted cocktail to take the chill off while you chill out.