This review is rather long, but I want to give you a fuller review than "I like it" or "I didn't like it."
TripAdvisor reviews helped me choose this hotel, and I was happy; I think L'Abri deserves a thoughtful review from me.
I stayed for 10 days at L'Abri du Voyageur - September 16-26, 2013.
My first experience was with booking directly through the hotel website.
Everything went smoothly online, but I discovered that my credit card company had declined the transaction because payment was for a site in another country.
I contacted the hotel, and the manager, M. Laurier Bisson, was very helpful in clearing up the problem.
He was also great in subsequent emails and confirmations.
A tip for others (at least USA folks, as I am):
if you pay by credit card directly to a hotel in another country, be sure to let your credit card company know so they won't decline the charge!
I'm giving this place full marks for my personal experience, but with 2 small warnings for travelers.
The first warning, as has been stated here before, is that the reception desk is up a long flight of stairs from the street.
The hotel is in a protected historical building, and it does not own the first floor of the building - so there will never be an elevator in the place.
If you have mobility issues, even just walking up stairs, this is not the place for you.
My room was on the top floor, so after the long hike up the stairs from the street I then had to trudge up 3 more flights of stairs.
I'm pushing 60 and rather overweight, so to be honest I cursed my hotel choice the first couple of days because I hurt so much.
But between the stairs and the fact that I was walking all over this beautiful walkable city for hours and miles every day, my leg/knee/foot pain soon disappeared!
My legs are now in the best shape they've been in for years, and it's made me want to walk about my own city again. So yay!
The second warning, again stated before, is that the hotel is above a sex shop - this seems to be an issue for some people.
The hotel is NOT in a seedy area like Times Square New York City in the 1970s, okay?
Montréal is just a tad more open about stuff.
The sex shop is only one part of one side of the rue Ste-Catherine street level of the building.
The hotel is also above a convenience store, a check cashing spot, and a store that sells cowboy boots - but nobody warns about them. :)
And frankly, I rarely even noticed that the place was there - I was more concerned about going up those stairs every day.
The good stuff, which is most of it:
THE BEST STAFF EVER!
Upon arriving, I was greeted by the most genuine welcome I think I've ever gotten at any hotel anywhere in the world.
Dave was at the front desk, and I just can't say enough good things about this guy.
I'm sure many of us have encountered the usual smarmy, obsequious front desk people in hotels - the ones with big smiles who don't mean their smiles.
Dave is the total opposite.
He is a genuinely warm, friendly, and caring person - and he's rather goodlooking, so that's always a plus.
No overly toothy smile, just a genuine "Hi! We're happy to have you here" sort of thing - and he meant it.
He said "Bonjour" first, as everyone does in Montréal.
When he heard my bad accent saying "Bonjour" back he switched to English immediately with no pause - and no condescension at all.
We chatted about my visit, he gave me the key, showed me how to get up to my room, and asked me to stop by the desk on my way out for my first night in Montréal as he'd be happy to give me a brief intro to the area.
My room was C306 and was called a "superior queen room."
I was kinda hoping that for a 10-day stay they'd upgrade me to a studio with small kitchen, but I can't complain about the room.
One wall was exposed brick, which I thought really lovely (having lived in an apartment with that).
There was one small window in the sleeping are looking west down rue Ste-Catherine - the only other window was in the bathroom.
So there's no view but hey, you can pay three times as much a block away for a view that you rarely enjoy.
Even though rue Ste-Catherine is a major street, I rarely heard noise at all - Montréal is the quietest major city I've ever visited.
People seem much more civil than in other major cities - e.g. no honking car horns all the time.
Perhaps the rooms facing boulevard St-Laurent at the intersection of rue Ste-Catherine might have noise issues, but I don't know.
The firm queen-sized bed was really comfortable (seriously, it's the best I've slept in a long time).
The room also had a couch - I think it was a sleeper, but I never even sat on it.
There were two small bedside tables with lamps, as well as a low table at the end of the bed (not sure the point of that table - I kept bumping into it).
There was a desk with a phone, lamp, and a flat-screen TV (not sure of the size - maybe 24" or a bit larger?).
The TV had lots of cable channels - many in French, of course, but some Canadian channels in English as well as several US station from Vermont and NY.
The TV remote is a little confusing, so don't start pressing lots of buttons - ask for help!
Note to hotel: might be nice to have a small pad of paper and a pen on the desk.
There was what we call a "wardrobe" in the southern US - a tall, doored wooden box with shelves and hangars (a stand-alone closet, as it were).
Lots of room to store your belongings.
There's no in-room safe.
The sparkling clean bathroom had small bars of soap, several plastic cups in sealed plastic covers, as well as small bottles of shampoo and moisturizer.
The shower was a bit strange to me as it was essentially a wedge-shaped thing with sliding glass doors.
I'm a big guy - about 6' and 250 pounds - but I fit in it and washed myself just fine, thank you very much.
I wish it had a shower nozzle with a hose (something I found in every European hotel and have used at home ever since), but hey, I got clean every day.
The towels aren't ultra-thick and soft and all that, but they're very clean.
When I came down to the desk my first day, Dave asked "how do you like the room?"
My first word was "spotless."
And I'm serious.
I've never seen a cleaner hotel room in my life, and I've been in many.
The hotel in general is just spotless.
I encountered several "femmes de chambres" (AKA housekeeping) during my stay, and they were all smiling, sweet, and all were really gorgeous.
Those women do an amazingly good job at this hotel, so please tip them accordingly.
Dave introduced me to Zach, who usually works the night shift - I'd encounter him a couple times when I crawled home muttering "de trop" after a late night.
He's also got a great, genuine smile on his face and always seems glad to welcome you back.
I never got the name of another evening guy - handsome guy with dark hair - but he was sweet and nice to me, too.
Most days I also encountered a lovely woman at the desk who had gorgeous hair and a truly killer smile.
She always gave me a bright "Bonjour!" and a smile as I left or returned.
Never chatted with her, but I looked forward to her smile and her "Bonjour!"
The Staff - PERFECTION!
I'm talking the best staff I've encountered in 30 years of traveling.
Every single person who works there is someone I'd hire away if I had a hotel or resort - seriously, they are THAT good, helpful, and friendly.
The location of this place is perfect!
You're within walking distance of so much - Centre-Ville (downtown), Chinatown, Vieux Port, Vieux Montréal.
The Village is less than 15 minutes walk away, even when stumbling back drunk after the Métro has closed. :)
The hotel is one block around the corner from Métro St-Laurent on the Green Line, and you can go almost everywhere on the Métro.
The bus is helpful to visit some places, and the St-Laurent bus 55 is right at the corner; that takes you up to the Plateau in no time (Schwartz's and Fairmount Bagels in minutes! Just walk one block west to rue St-Urbain for the return trip ).
There's another big-name, high-rise hotel about a block away that has elevators, but they charge triple/quadruple+ more than this place.
Yeah, that hotel name rhymes with "Try-It," but why try it when you've got a good hotel here with clean rooms and a staff that actually cares.
After I'd returned home, I got a nice email from M. Bisson saying he hoped I had a wonderful time and that I could have a 10% discount on my next visit.
I hope to get to Montréal again next April.
And yeah, I'll stay here again.
Never said that about a hotel before.
Kudos to M. Bisson for hiring the best hotel staff ever.
Now please increase their salaries accordingly! :)
love from Scott in Richmond, VA