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Where to stay?

Washingtonville...
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Where to stay?

There are 4 adults driving to Montreal the beginning of November. I think we want to stay in Old Montreal, but Downtown seems to be a lot cheaper. We don't mind walking or taking public transportation, but want the european feel of the city. What part of the city do you recommend us staying? We're not sure yet what sites we want to see.

Thanks!

Montreal, Canada
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for Quebec, Montreal, Quebec City, Mont Tremblant, Miami, Miami Beach
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1. Re: Where to stay?

I lived a whole winter in Old Montreal and can tell you that even if you want to get the "European" feel you might be overserved at this time of the year. Yes in November on dark days (most of times) the place can feel very gloomy, if it snows the streets are a nightmare since they are so tiny and just the short hop up and down the moraine on which Old Mtl is built to access a métro (subway) station can be a nuisance and nobody then want to be caught in the tunnels going to the easterly (Champs de Mars) station.

So stay downtown without any guilt you will just be a few metro stations away from Old Mtl anyways and could do the whole trip/walking/sightseeing of Old Mtl shebang at your whim and not out of necessity.

Edited: 1:50 pm, October 03, 2011
Montreal, Canada
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2. Re: Where to stay?

Montreal's core is very compact. You can walk (or take public transport) between neighbourhoods. So even if you stay downtown you can go to Old Montreal in 15 min or less.

Old Montreal feels much more european. Cobble stone streets, old world architecture, art galleries and of course... your fair share of tourist traps. Most hotels there are boutique hotels, some have brick walls and such. It's got more charm then downtown but dining in the area is usually more exepensive and not necessarily better (there are a few exceptions). The metro (our underground subway system) stops just at the outskirts of this area.

Downtown is the business core. The hotels cater to business travellers, less romance. There are many lunchtime choices, but less evening restaurants. then again, it's easy to get anywhere from here. The metro and busses run everywhere. The underground city, a network of tunnels and malls, runs under most of downtown and can be a fantastic way of getting around when the weather is nasty. Some hotels link directly to the underground city, which means you could go shopping and eating without stepping a foot outside!

It's true that Old Montreal is less busy in the winter. Rickb's impression that it is gloomy is entirely a matter of opinion. I for one appreciate the fact that i can BREATHE and not be bothered by the crowd.

Myself? I would be happy with a hotel downtown linked to the underground city. It's a great central point to go anywhere else, and if you like to shop, it's perfect. If you look for deals here and there you may find a hotel with a promotion going on for your dates.

Montreal
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3. Re: Where to stay?

Although most of the hotels are downtown or in Old Montréal, there are other areas, too -- I bet that the Plateau has enough elements of what you'd consider European as to please you: walkable shopping streets such as Saint-Denis or Mount-Royal or Saint-Laurent, small independent boutiques and cafés and restaurants, the European-style Carré Saint-Louis and the pedestrian Prince Arthur street, even the Latin Quarter which has a high concentration of restaurants and cafés and nightlife and also a bit of urban grit which I actually like (and we talk all the time about this neighbourhood -- see the topic about safety in the Top Questions, for example).

The ITHQ hotel-and-restaurant school (upscale and pretty good bang-for-the-buck) or the Château de l'Argoat (a very European-style hotel) put you conveniently close to downtown AND the Latin Quarter AND the Plateau, for example. In the rest of the Plateau there aren't many hotels, more B&B's (another option) or even short-term apartments to rent.

When I travel, I prefer this last option because it allows me to live as I do at home, making shopping and cooking as part of my day, and I prefer to stay in residential neighbourhoods similar to the Plateau, compared to downtown or in the touristy areas like Old Montréal which are nice but don't feel very, hmm... homey :)

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Where to stay?

Hi Steph2965,

Welcome to the MONTREAL TRAVEL FORUM

And I see that you are fairly NEW to the TA FORUMS… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

As this looks to be your first trip to Montreal… you might gain from this mini Geography Lesson that I shared with another Traveller… You will want to pull up a copy of an On-Line Mapping Program to follow along… I like GOOGLE MAPS.

GOOGLE MAPS is cool, because it can show you times and distances between places whether you are… Driving, Walking, Cycling or taking Public Transit (if you pick 2 spots on the map and ask it to do the calculations in the various categories… the format will change slightly… for modes like Cycling & Public Transit… you’ll see for example that the metro lines don’t necessary correspond with the street grid above ground). Metro Stations are marked on GOOGLE MAPS with a blue M symbol

As well GOOGLE MAPS means you can get a real feel for the-lay-of-the-land by looking at the Satellite Views or Street Views… a great way to “see” a place long before you ever arrive… and you can even take “the little yellow man” for a drive around town… a fabulous way to become familiar with a Destination or see something in particular curb-side (check out your hotel & surroundings).

== snip ==

The Downtown area… is usually considered to span aprox 25 x 20 Blocks in size… and includes (all or some of the following Neighbourhoods)… the Business District, The Golden Square Mile, ChinaTown, the Latin Quarter, and Old Montreal and the Historic Old Port Area.

It’s rough boundaries would be Atwater to the WEST – Blvd St Laurent to the EAST – The Old Port to the SOUTH – and Sherbrooke Street to the NORTH.

The whole area is quite walkable… but also served by the Metro… two East-West Lines run thru the grid… (Orange & Green Lines)… so getting around is really easy. And if one should tire of walking… then it is easy enough to hop on the metro or hail a cab… both quite inexpensively.

STM (Societe de Transport de Montreal) – Metro Map = www.stm.info/english/metro/a-mapmet.htm

City Streets in Montreal are laid out in a grid pattern… but the neighbourhoods are sort of staggered… think a quilt pattern here… so that nothing is too far from anything else.

For example, Old Montreal is an area of aprox 7 x 12 Blocks from the Old Port in the SOUTH then a few blocks NORTH to St Antoine – then WEST to EAST from Rue McGill to Rue St Hubert

The good news is as I said… nothing is too far from anything else… Just a few blocks to the North of Old Montreal you’ll find Chinatown (look for rue Clark)… then Complex Desjardins and the Easterly edge of the St Catherines Shopping area… farther to the East the Latin Quarter and Gay Village.

Old Montreal is certainly a good location if you’ve never been to Montreal before and want to get the vibe of French Canadian culture along with a bit of history… and has the best of both worlds, because you are still in the Downtown area too.

Still though… although there are a lot of great things to see in Old Montreal… you’ll probably find you cover this area pretty quickly. Definitely not as big or dense as Old Quebec City’s Historic Upper & Lower Towns.

Due to the historic nature of Old Montreal… there is no metro service immediately underground… to go elsewhere in the city… you need to get to a Metro Station which means a short hike up the Moraine (small hill) and across “the Trench” (the Ville Marie Expressway)

== end ==

ALL of Montreal is vastly different IMO than anywhere else in North America… it is because of the French influence… there is indeed a European flavour… but at the same time it is a very cosmopolitan city… Old Montreal on the other hand is probably more what you have in mind when you say you looking for a “European feel”… and although it is great… no where in Canada can compare to Old Quebec (est 1608)… the oldest ongoing settlement in Continental North America… north of the St Augustine Florida (est 1565 by the Spanish). Old Quebec is the only remaining Walled City in the US and Canada… and well words cannot describe its charm… it truly has to be seen / experienced.

As SYLVE684 and RICKB has said, staying in the Downtown / Business Area is certainly an option… and wonderful in the Wintertime with access to the Underground City (such Hotels include the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth and the Marriott Chateau Champlain… among others). Both of these Hotels are excellent… and very central.

Without much trouble one can get to Old Montreal – Shopping on St Catherine Street – The Golden Mile (Sherbrooke Street) – and the Bars & Clubs up on Crescent Street etc.

The good thing about Montreal is truly no matter where you stay, the city like others in Canada is extremely safe… really there are very few places that as a single woman I wouldn’t be comfortable walking 24/7 (and the unique thing about Montreal is there are always people out and about, coming and going around the clock)… just use your usual Street Smarts.

Hope this is helpful as you become more familiar with this Destination as you progress thru your Trip Planning efforts.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 5:39 pm, October 03, 2011
5. Re: Where to stay?

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