Where to Stay in Montreal: Complete Guide for First Timers

Wondering where to stay in Montreal? We’ve fallen head over heels in love with Montreal, and are here to help you do the same. It’s a great city with everything we love: a thriving art and culture scene, a charming Old Town, and a great food and drink scene. Oh, and good public transportation! 

The best part? Unlike the other major cities in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver, it’s somewhat affordable! Which you’ll see as you start to look at some of the hotel options and prices.

I like the city so much that when I think of my favorite travel destinations of 2023, the answer is about as easy as it gets. 

It’s Montreal. 

Montreal is a city that, truthfully, was never really on our radar until some friends who live in the Northeast mentioned to us that it reminds them of Portland in a lot of ways. As Portland residents who love our city, our ears perked up at that, and we found ourselves in Montreal less than a year later. 

And they’re absolutely right about Montreal and Portland sharing some important characteristics. Perhaps the most important is the thriving food and drink scene, which we attribute to a relatively low cost of living that allows people to, you know, try cool things (without a million dollars in the bank so spend on it). 

But it also has the great green spaces, leafy streets and residential neighborhoods punctuated by commercial strips, and the river (rivers, in this case) running through it. 

In this guide to where to stay in Montreal, we’re going to use our experiences exploring the city to help you decide on the right neighborhood for your particular travel style and budget. 

Each of the neighborhoods in this guide offers a different blend of vibes, prices, and pros and cons, and we’ll cover it all below so that you’re armed with all the information you need to figure out where to stay for your particular style and budget. 

The intention here is to give you the information you need to find the perfect place to stay for your trip to Montreal.

Sound good to you? Let’s get into it.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

The 4 Best Places to Stay in Montreal: A Complete Guide for First Time Visitors

Let’s get right into where to stay in Montreal.

Our philosophy when it comes to deciding on a place to stay is to first choose the neighborhood, then move on to finding a great hotel, hostel, or apartment in that area. 

Montreal is a relatively compact city, at least when we’re talking about the neighborhoods where it makes sense for tourists to stay, though which area you choose still matters because each has a distinct vibe. 

At a high level, though Montreal sprawls across an entire island – Yes, Montreal is on an island – called “Montreal Island” that sits between the Saint Lawrence River on the south and the Prairies River on the north. 

The south end of the island is where you’ll find Downtown and Old Montreal, which is the core of the city. It becomes residential fairly quickly as you head outwards from there. 

While the city covers the entire island, the list of places to stay in Montreal is actually relatively short for a few reasons. 

First, there are only a few places where you’ll find hotels and guesthouses, mostly concentrated around Downtown Montreal and Old Montreal along the Saint Lawrence River. 

Second, as of a few years ago, short term vacation rentals are basically illegal in Montreal unless it’s the owner’s primary residence, which is not the case for a vast majority of rentals. The city has been cracking down on illegal listings, and you need to be very careful if you book a short term rental here (we didn’t know this before our trip).  

The result is that there are only four neighborhoods that are really an option for tourists. 

The reality is that, depending on what you’re looking for, there are other neighborhoods that probably meet your needs. But these are the ones that we think are the best for 99% of travelers, and we’ve shown our work, doing our best to explain why we think that. 

For each of the neighborhoods below, we’ve created a structure to help you figure out if it’s the right home base for you. Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  • An overview of the neighborhood and our experience with it. We’ve personally been to and explored (more than once) all of the areas on this list, so we’ll try to give you a little bit of our perspective on what makes each area special. 

  • Pros and cons of staying in this area. The things you need to know to make your decision. 

  • A collection of a few places to stay that stood out to us. Sometimes it’ll be because they have rooms with river views, sometimes it’s that the hotel offers a great value given the location.

In the guide below, we’ve written a comprehensive mini travel guide for each of the neighborhoods we’re covering, but we’re well aware that a few of you are currently ready to throw your left shoe at the screen, saying “I don’t have time to read all of that, JUST TELL ME THE BEST PLACE TO STAY!” 

Here is a quick summary of the guide, though we’d recommend reading the longer section for the area that you think fits best for some of our favorite places to eat and drink in the neighborhood! 

In reality, we think that you’re essentially choosing between three areas for your trip, and which one you choose depends on your own personal style and budget, and what you want your trip to look like. 

These three areas – and we’d actually argue that most people are really choosing between the first two – cover the needs of 99% of travelers, though each of them does offer different vibes. 

  • If it’s your first time in Montreal and you only have a couple of days, stay in Old Montreal. This is the part of the city that was built when it was founded, and is full of charming cobblestone streets, unique architecture, and a buzzing energy that is borderline intoxicating. I’ve stayed at both the Auberge du Vieux Port, an upscale boutique hotel in a historic building with rooms that look out over the river (and a great rooftop bar), and Maison Sainte-Thérèse, a collection of comfortable, spacious apartments with kitchens. I’d recommend both of them! 

  • If you want to be in the middle of all of Montreal’s best food and drinks, stay in the Plateau. This was, by far, our favorite part of the city, and is where you’ll find many of the city’s best places to eat and drink. We stayed here on the second half of our recent trip, and enjoyed the proximity to those things while also being within 5 minutes of the Orange metro line, which takes you Downtown, to the Lachine Canal, and up towards Little Italy and Jean Talon Market. Stay at Auberge de la Fontaine, which is a small guesthouse right on the best park in the city. 

  • If you’re in Montreal for work, stay in Downtown Montreal. While not nearly as warm and inviting as the other two neighborhoods on this list, it’s convenient if you’re in Montreal for a short trip (or to visit McGill). Stay at Hôtel Le Germain, a beautiful boutique hotel right in the heart of Downtown, or at Sonder Maisonneuve if you’re looking for a comfortable apartment. 

Here’s a map to help you visualize what we’re talking about, with the neighborhoods we’ll cover in this guide along with some key landmarks (the yellow stars) to help you understand the geography of the city. 

Where We’ve Stayed in Montreal

As usual, we like to start our guides with where we’ve stayed in a city, because who doesn’t like a personal recommendation?

In Montreal’s case, we have three of them!

Matt has stayed at Auberge du Vieux Port, which is right along the waterfront in Old Montreal. It’s a beautiful historic building, and the rooms feature brick walls and writing desks (which is where some of this guide was written).

My room at Auberge du Vieux Port (note the exposed brick wall)

Half of the rooms overlook the St. Lawrence River, and the other half overlook Rue Saint-Paul, the charming cobblestone street you see in all the pictures of Old Montreal. 

We have also stayed at Maison Sainte-Thérèse, an aparthotel (that’s just a hotel where the rooms are apartments) with nice, spacious rooms. They lean into the technology for a contactless check-in and most rooms have some sort of kitchen facilities (which is why we ended up there). 

They have a sister property around the corner called Maison Saint-Vincent, which has a similar vibe. Both are highly rated, and we’d recommend them. 

Our friends came to meet us in Montreal for a long weekend get-together, and we decided to stay in Plateau Mont-Royal, which turned out to be our absolute favorite part of the city. 

Think pedestrianized streets (in the summer, anyway), huge green spaces (Parc de la Fontaine is incredible, especially on a warm weekend evening), and the best food and drinks in the city. 

Old Montreal: The Best Place to Stay for First Timers & Short Trips

Old Montreal –  Vieux-Montréal in French – is the site of the original city of Montreal back when it was founded in the 17th Century by the French as a fur trading post. Over the years, the city expanded outwards from this spot along the Saint Lawrence River. 

It retained its role as the most important part of the city thanks to the port of Montreal, which was located here. Until, of course, boats became too big to come up the rivers and rail became a more efficient way to transport things. 

It kind of reminds me of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco in terms of vibes. It’s certainly built for tourists – there’s a ferris wheel, which is a good indicator that it’s going to be tourist-centric – but there are several things that make it well worth spending some time exploring this area. 

It’s all brick buildings and charming streets, including some pedestrianized areas that are nice in the summertime when everyone is out eating and drinking on the patios of the bars and restaurants around the neighborhood. 

Two of the main attractions that you shouldn’t miss are the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History (at Pointe-à-Callière) and the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. 

I’m not usually a “go into every church person” but after a strong recommendation from a walking tour guide (this is the walking tour of Old Montreal I did and I’d recommend it), I decided to go for it. 

And the interior of this cathedral is magnificent, and absolutely outshines the relatively boring exterior. 

The downside of Old Montreal is that, as you might expect based on my comparison to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, the best eating, drinking, and shopping is going to be found elsewhere.

So you’ll have to go to other neighborhoods for the best food and drinks in Montreal (which is fairly easy to do with good bus and metro connections). 

Pros and Cons of Staying in Old Montreal

Here are the pros and cons of staying in Old Montreal as we see them. 

Pros of Staying in Old Montreal
  • It’s central. You’ll be able to walk to Downtown, the southern end of the Plateau, and along the Lachine Canal along the St. Lawrence River, and everything else is a short metro, bus, or bike ride away. 

  • It has great transit connections. It’s a 5-7 minute walk to the Orange Line of the metro, which takes you Downtown, or up north to the Plateau and Mile End. Plus, there are buses that run out to the Lachine Canal and straight up Boulevard Saint-Laurent. I found it really, really easy to use this area as a home base. 

  • It’s very lively. The energy is palpable, with the charming cobblestone streets full of people going about their days, chattering away. The sidewalk patios lining the main streets also add a nice European flair. 
Cons of Staying in Old Montreal
  • It’s full of tourists. Between 10am and 8pm, this area is a very popular spot for tourists visiting Montreal. On a neighborhood walk, you’re bound to hear at least four or five different languages being spoken. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that you should be prepared for crowds, especially on weekends.

  • Bars and restaurants are fairly average. Especially for the price. It’s just like eating and drinking in Times Square in NYC or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The area is full of tourists, so restaurants don’t HAVE to be amazing to be successful. We’d plan on eating most of your meals elsewhere. 

  • It’s expensive, relatively speaking. While very few things in Montreal are truly expensive, this is arguably the most desirable place to stay in Montreal, and the prices here reflect that. 

Old Montreal Highlights

Here are a few places to visit and things to do in Old Montreal that we enjoyed. 

The Archaeology Museum: If you want some insight into Montreal’s history, this excellent museum is worth a couple of hours of your time. It’s on the site of the original French settlement a few hundred years ago at Pointe-à-Callière right on the Saint Lawrence River. More information here

A walk along the waterfront: The path along the Saint Lawrence River through Old Montreal is a really special, picturesque walk that is best in the early morning, when it’s relatively quiet. Start here and head south, making sure to take a detour out onto the little peninsula for the Clock Tower. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can continue the walk all the way down the Lachine Canal through Griffintown and down to Atwater Market, which is absolutely worth your time. 

An Old Montreal Walking Tour: We always try to do a guided walking tour in any city we visit for the valuable historical and cultural context we glean from spending a few hours with a local learning about their city. I ended up doing multiple walking tours in Montreal, and this walking tour of Old Montreal was my favorite (although this bike tour was also excellent, with a wider variety of sights). It covers the history of the city, from its beginnings as one of the first fur trading posts in North America through the takeover by the British (and the resulting cultural tensions between French and British identities).  

Notre Dame Basilica: Some important context here; we’re definitely not “MUST GO IN EVERY CHURCH” people. And I, Matt, was not planning on going inside this one, which is right in the middle of Old Montreal. However, after a STRONG recommendation from my walking tour guide, I decided to do it and was not disappointed. The exterior is relatively austere, but the interior is magnificently ornate, with blue and gold finishes that blew my expectations out of the water. More information here

The Best Places to Stay in Old Montreal

Here are a few places to stay in Old Montreal that stood out to us. 

Auberge du Vieux-Port (Where I’ve Stayed): A Beautiful Boutique Hotel in a Great Location
My room at Auberge du Vieux Port

I – Matt – was looking for a nice boutique hotel near the Saint Lawrence River for my first few days in Montreal, when I was traveling solo and looking to get a feel for the city, its history, and its culture. 

I settled on Auberge du Vieux-Port after considering a few other nearby options because the rooms looked nice – spacious, comfortable, stylish – and it was literally across the street from the river. 

It’s an old brick building that used to be an industrial warehouse that has been completely re-worked, keeping the bones of the building and its history front and center (like the exposed brick walls in the rooms) while also adding a more modern touch of luxury. 

It was a little more expensive than I’m used to, but I decided to stay here for a couple of nights before moving somewhere a little more affordable. 

I would say that it’s worth the splurge, especially for the riverfront rooms. My window looked out across the street to the south over the Saint Lawrence River. 

The view of the river from my room

As I’ve already mentioned, the location of this hotel is unbeatable. On one side, you have the walkway along the river. On the other side you have Rue St. Paul, the main pedestrianized street through the neighborhood lined with places to eat, drink, and shop. 

My room had a nice seating area, a desk that was perfect for working in the downtime between activities, and the bathroom was stocked with some of the most luxurious bath products I’ve ever used in my life. 

The front desk people were friendly and helpful every day, and honestly were one of the highlights of the stay. If you know me, you know I have a lot of questions. And they all got answered with a smile and an understanding that my French needed a few days to come back. 

In terms of amenities, you’ve got a very comfortable bed, a great shower, and bathrobes in the room. There’s a rooftop bar called Terrasse sur L’Auberge, but I didn’t make it up there because it was pretty smoky in Montreal thanks to nearby forest fires in Quebec. 

Parking is valet only, and is $38 a day. 

No pets allowed here. 

Maison Sainte-Thérèse (Where I’ve Stayed): A Comfortable Aparthotel in the Heart of Old Montreal

As we’ve traveled more and more over the past several years – it is our full time job now, after all – we’ve started to see more and more “aparthotels” around the world. And we’re here for it. 

An aparthotel is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Part apartment, part hotel. You have a front desk and all the amenities that come with a hotel (like housekeeping), but you also get a little more space for added comfort and a kitchen that comes with staying in an apartment. 

Given that Matt has Celiac Disease and needs to eat strictly gluten free, a kitchen is often a must-have for us, so aparthotels are a great option. 

After a couple of nights at Auberge du Vieux-Port, I moved on to a different option with a little more space to spend a few days before my friends and Alysha arrived in Montreal to join me. 

Maison Sainte-Thérèse was at the top of the list in terms of ratings and reviews, and after realizing that there are only 12 rooms in the entire hotel, I decided it would be a nice, quiet place to spend a few nights. 

The location is similar – it’s one block north of Rue St. Paul on a quieter street a few blocks from all the action. 

My room – a studio – was spacious and comfortable, with a full kitchen, a dining room island, and a comfortable bed.

Each room is a little different, even within the different categories, and all are decorated by local designers and artists.

One thing to note here is that the front desk is only occupied during check-in hours, and everything outside of that time is going to be virtual (by text). However, I will say that responses were super helpful and prompt, which is not always the case when that’s the situation. 

Maison Saint-Vincent: Another Stylish Aparthotel in a Good Location

A sister property of Maison Sainte-Thérèse, this stylish aparthotel is less than a block away from the one we stayed at, and is basically the same proposition. 

Stylish rooms designed by local designers and artists – most have full kitchens, and a streamlined self-serve experience when it comes to check in and check out. 

I would say that the rooms here are a little more “boutique”, and are a bit nicer than the ones at Maison Sainte-Thérèse, which lean more industrial-chic.

Hôtel Uville Montréal: A Stylish Mid-Century Hotel

This boutique hotel is intentionally designed to evoke the 60’s and 70’s in Montreal, with decor that is somehow both dated and modern simultaneously. Think wood tones and wild wallpapers. It’s a nice blend of modern and classic. 

The location is great – it’s across the street from the Museum of Archaeology and History and a few blocks from both the cathedral and the river. 

Rooms come in two configurations; a single king bed or two queen beds. A surprisingly simple and comprehensible way of organizing rooms, we think.

Breakfast in the big ground floor cafe is included in the room rate, and they have amenities like mini fridges and TVs with streaming capabilities (bring your own device). 

No onsite parking here – the staff will direct you to a couple of nearby lots to park there, for a fee (of course). 

Pets are allowed, but I was unable to get more information on what rooms were pet-friendly and what the fee would be unless I was ready to book a room (which was odd to me). 

Downtown Montreal: The Most Convenient Area to Stay in Montreal

In terms of convenience, it’s pretty hard to argue against Downtown Montreal as the most convenient area to stay in Montreal. 

The transit connections – particularly the metro – are unmatched (basically everything runs through Downtown), the walkability to Old Montreal, the Plateau, and up to Mont-Royal itself is nice, and the selection of hotels is about as good as it gets. 

There are a nearly unlimited number of places to stay in Downtown Montreal across a range of different budgets and styles.

The tradeoff, because of course there’s a tradeoff here, is that the central location means you’ll be sharing sidewalks with business people in suits and the occasional tourists, because nobody who lives in Montreal really lives Downtown. 

However, its central location and the fact that it is effectively also the city’s Financial District (or Central Business District, take your pick) means that it does have the best selection of hotels in the city. 

Like we said, pros and cons. 

It makes the most sense for your first trip AND a short trip (24-48 hours or so). In that scenario, you’re going to want to be as central as possible to maximize your time, and you don’t really have time to do much exploring outside of the Downtown area (including Mont-Royal and Old Montreal) anyway. 

However, there’s also a strong argument for staying here for a longer trip if you’re looking to have the best transit connections to the rest of the city, including to and from the airport. 

Pros and Cons of Staying in Downtown Montreal

Here are the pros and cons of staying in Downtown Montreal as we see them. 

Pros of Staying in Downtown Montreal
  • There are a ton of places to stay. This is the highest concentration of places to stay, with hundreds of hotels within the relatively small Downtown corridor. Plus, there are options for a range of budgets – it’s not all fancy, high end hotels. 

  • It’s as central as it gets. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Downtown Montreal is central. You’ll be able to walk to Old Montreal, the Plateau, and even up to the top of Mont-Royal itself (the trail leaves from here and features a bunch of stairs). 

  • There are great transit connections. Between the metro lines and stops for just about every bus route in Montreal, you’re really well connected to the rest of the city if you choose Downtown as your home base. It’s easy to get around town, and to get to and from the airport. 
Cons of Staying in Downtown Montreal
  • It’s not charming. This is a concrete jungle, and while there are a couple of green spaces sprinkled throughout (we like Dorchester Square), it feels very urban.

  • Our favorite places to eat and drink are elsewhere. The bars and restaurants here cater to businesspeople, which means they’re not going to be as diverse and interesting as some of the places on the Plateau, in Mile End, or down near the Lachine Canal near Griffintown and Little Burgundy. Plan on eating and drinking elsewhere if you stay here. 

The Best Places to Stay in Downtown Montreal

There are a nearly unlimited number of hotels in Downtown Montreal to choose from, including multiple options from most of the big chains. 

Here are a couple of options that caught our eye. 

Sonder Maisonneuve: Stylish Apartments in the Heart of Downtown Montreal

We’ve stayed at Sonder properties before, and have had positive experiences with their modern apartments in a couple of cities now. 

This particular property is on the southwestern end of Downtown, right between Concordia University and the Museum of Fine Arts (and right next to the Guy-Concordia metro station, which is on metro line 1). 

If you aren’t familiar with Sonder, we think of them as a cross between hotels and Airbnb. It’s like an Airbnb in that you get your own space (usually apartments, though they’ve started offering hotel-style rooms at some properties), but it’s like a hotel in that Sonder actually owns the property (versus a random person). 

As you might imagine, there are pros and cons here. 

The biggest thing to know is that at many of their locations, there are very limited staff onsite – everything is managed virtually (check-in codes, room cleaning requests, etc). 

This has a few implications, namely that if something comes up, you can’t just walk down to the front desk. And you can’t ask the people at the front desk for recommendations on nearby bars, how to take the bus to the Lachine Canal, or whatever other practical questions you have. 

However, if you’re looking for a nice place to stay that has modern amenities and comfortable rooms that, crucially, have a kitchen, this would be a great home base in Montreal. 

They have rooms here ranging from studios to a couple of bigger apartments with two and three bedrooms. Most of the units are in the studio and one bedroom category, and most of the units have balconies. All apartments here have full kitchens, complete with stovetop and oven. 

There’s an outdoor terrace on the 14th floor, a fitness center and sauna, and even an outdoor pool (!!). 

Hôtel Le Germain Montréal: A Beautifully Designed Hotel in Downtown Montreal

Right in the middle of all the action – across the street from McGil University and a few blocks from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – this mid-century modern gem is immediately recognizable thanks to its multicolored facade. 

I noticed it as I was walking around exploring Downtown and put a pin on the map to come back to later to see what the hotel looks like on the inside. 

Turns out, it looks pretty nice! It’s very much on the boutique end of the hotel spectrum (versus budget), with relatively big rooms with mid-century modern finishes (subway tile in the shower) with a modern flair. 

Room types are mostly one king or queen bed or two queens (which are going to be slightly more expensive), with various levels (e.g. “superior”) in each configuration. 

Germain Hotels is a brand that has hotels across eastern Canada, from Calgary to Quebec. They started in Quebec – their first hotel opened in Quebec City in 1988 – and have since expanded outside of the province. 

Pets are allowed, and it’s a $30 additional fee per stay. Pets can’t be left unattended in the room, though, and you have to tell them before arrival. 

Onsite, indoor parking is available at a rate of $40 per day. There’s also an onsite fitness center (that honestly looks pretty nice as hotel fitness centers go). 

Le Plateau Mont Royal: Our Personal Pick for the Best Area to Stay in Montreal

“Le Plateau,” which refers to the flat section of the city on the northeast side of the mountain, turned out to be the place we spent the most time on our trip to Montreal, even when we weren’t staying there. 

It reminds us a lot of our neighborhood in Portland, which we love. It’s largely residential, with several strips of commerce running through it with a variety of places to eat, drink, and shop (our favorite is Avenue du Mont-Royal). 

It also happens to be fairly central, tucked away between Mile End and Little Italy to the northwest, and the Downtown core (including Old Montreal) to the southeast, conveniently accessible via the metro and numerous bus lines running through the neighborhood. 

We consistently found ourselves exiting the metro at Mont Royal (or Sherbrooke) for one reason or another (mostly to eat or drink), and decided that it was by far our favorite stretch of the city. 

It has everything we love in a neighborhood that blends the amenities of a city, like a great selection of places to eat, drink, and shop, and a residential area with great green spaces (like our home in southeast Portland, for example). 

The biggest challenge that comes with staying here is the fact that, because short term rentals are strictly regulated (as they should be!), there are relatively few places to stay in this mostly residential area. 

Because the Plateau is a long, narrow stretch running basically all the way from Downtown up to Mile End, it makes sense to talk about what area to stay in.

We’d find a place somewhere between Avenue du Mont-Royal and Sherbrooke St., which puts you within walking distance to either Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke metro stations.

And being within a few blocks of Saint Laurent Boulevard will also give you access to the bus lines that run up and down that main thoroughfare.  

For what it’s worth, the highest concentration of places to stay are going to be on the southeast end of the neighborhood, closer to Downtown and UQAM (the University of Quebec in Montreal), with a few nice guesthouses further north. 

Ave. Mont-Royal on a summer evening, when it’s pedestrianized

Pros and Cons of Staying in Plateau Mont Royal

Here are the pros and cons of staying in the Plateau as we see them. 

Pros of Staying in the Plateau
  • There is tons to do, eat, see, and drink. You could spend an entire weekend in Montreal just in this area eating and drinking and never run out of deliciousness. We have suggestions based on our own experiences below. 

  • It’s walkable to Mile End and Little Italy. It’s a nice, easy walk – it’s a plateau, which means it’s flat – up Saint Laurent to both Mile End and Little Italy. Everything else is a short metro ride away, which brings us to our next pro…

  • Easy transit connections. Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll have access to the Orange Line of the metro (at either Sherbrooke or Mont Royal, most likely) and the buses running up and down St. Denis and St. Laurent. 
Cons of Staying in the Plateau
  • There are fewer places to stay. As you’d expect to see in a more residential part of town, there are fewer places to stay on the Plateau. There are a couple of hotels and guesthouses, and a few apartment buildings that are legally renting apartments, but the options are relatively few and far between. 

  • Being further northeast means a longer journey to the metro/bus lines. The further northeast you go, to places near Parc la Fontaine (which is our favorite park in the city), the longer the walk to the main metro/bus lines becomes. It can easily add 10-15 minutes of walking or an extra bus ride. We’d suggest utilizing the Bixi bikes to make these connections, which are easy to use on Montreal’s extensive network of bike lanes.

  • It can be loud and rowdy. After 10pm or so, this area becomes one of the main nightlife scenes in Montreal. Which is fun if you’re into that – we have some bars that we enjoyed in the highlights section below – but can be a pain if you’re trying to, you know, sleep (which we also enjoy). Not necessarily a deal breaker, but something to know going in!

Plateau Mont Royal Highlights

This section could be more than ten bullets long, but we’re going to keep it to 5-6 places we really enjoyed, and think you will too. 

White Heron Coffee: If you’re looking for one of the best coffee shops in Montreal, you’ll find it at White Heron, tucked away on a pedestrian street a couple of blocks off of Saint Laurent Blvd. I actually first visited their Griffintown location, which is newer and in the bottom of a fancy apartment building, and enjoyed the vibe at this location more. They have coffee from some of Canada’s best roasters (Rogue Wave and Hatch when I was there), and the barista turned out to be the owner, and she was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly (I was the only one there, so I got to chat with her for a bit while I enjoyed my coffee). 

Arepera: Basically next door to White Heron is Arepera, which does Venezuelan-style arepas. If you know us, you know we LOVE arepas and seek them out in every city. Venezuelan-style just means they’re stuffed with goodies (as opposed to being topped with them, like they might be in Colombia). The arepas here are excellent, as are the empanadas and the two sauces they bring to you. 

Murals galore! We accidentally booked our trip smack dab in the middle of the Mural Festival, which is a 10 day period where they close Saint-Laurent to cars and have a bunch of world-famous muralists in town to work on various walls in the neighborhood. Matt took this mural tour, which was an excellent introduction to the scene in Montreal, and he saw (and more importantly, understood) all sorts of art that he wouldn’t have otherwise discovered on his own. 

Incredible nightlife: This area is very popular with the kids, as they say. A few spots that we visited and enjoyed are Plan B (cocktails), Réservoir (beer), and Bílý Kůň (uh, emu taxidermy and good vibes?). 

The Best Places to Stay in Plateau Mont-Royal

Here are some places to stay in the Plateau that caught our eyes. 

Auberge de La Fontaine: A Charming Guesthouse in a Great Plateau Location

Located right on the northwestern edge of Parc La Fontaine, this charming guesthouse is one of the very few places to stay on the Plateau. 

The location is great – you’re two (long) blocks from Rue Mont-Royal (our favorite stretch in the entire city), right on the park (great for summer afternoons with a bottle of wine and some snacks), and a 15 minute walk from the metro (at Station Mont-Royal). 

There are also only 21 rooms here, and they come in a couple of different layouts – mostly one queen bed or two queen beds – with a few bigger suites. 

Unfortunately, there is no onsite parking here, so you’ll need to navigate the somewhat confusing street parking scene (which they can help you with). For what it’s worth, our friends did it and came through unscathed with no parking tickets. 

No pets allowed here. 

François-Denis Apartments: Spacious Apartments in an Ideal Location

Located right on Saint-Denis, one of the main arteries running through the Plateau (it’s parallel to Blvd. Saint-Laurent), this small guesthouse is another aparthotel that we’ve added to our list for future trips to Montreal. 

The location truly couldn’t be better. It’s a couple of blocks from Avenue Mont-Royal, including the metro station (it’s literally a three minute walk from the front door), and a ten minute walk to Saint-Laurent Blvd, which gives you access to multiple bus lines running to Little Italy and Mile End (among other parts of the city). 

Rooms here are apartments, with full kitchens (no ovens, but they have stovetops and microwaves), and most are studios with a couple of one bedroom options. 

Each room is a little different – some are full studios, some have a separator between the bedroom and the living area / kitchens – but they all feature a kitchen, a seating area, and a queen bed (some have balconies overlooking Rue Saint-Denis). 

No onsite parking here, and pets aren’t allowed. 

Auberge du Plateau: An Affordable Option on the Plateau

This affordable hostel is one of the best value places to stay in Montreal, and it’s part hostel, part guesthouse. 

In terms of location, it’s on the southeastern end of the Plateau near Blvd. Saint Laurent. You’re roughly equidistant between two metro stations (serving two different lines), so getting around the city is a breeze. 

There are dorm rooms with 6-8 beds – including some female-only rooms – and a mix of different private rooms, some of which have private bathrooms (and some have shared). 

Like any hostel worth its weight, they have good shared facilities, including a fully equipped shared kitchen and a nice terrace. 

Griffintown: An Alternative with Access to Canals + Great Food & Drinks

Griffintown is a neighborhood southwest of Downtown Montreal that feels like an extension of Old Montreal that, for various reasons, hadn’t seen the same level of development and investment.

Until the past decade, when a plan was put in place to develop the formerly industrial area into a more modern hub for industry (this time, the technology industry).

It’s clearly a former industrial area, full of warehouses and brick buildings interspersed with more modern apartment and office buildings. Which makes sense given its proximity to the river and the canal, which were main arteries of transportation until relatively recently. 

While Old Montreal has become the main area for tourists, Griffintown seems to be in the middle of a cycle of gentrification that has seen the neighborhood go from a haven for artists and creatives to a place where young urban professionals (aka yuppies) live.

Little Burgundy, which is immediately to the southwest of Griffintown, is a charming, more residential neighborhood where you’ll find some of the city’s best food and drinks.  

Notre Dame Street is the main thoroughfare that runs through these neighborhoods along the canal, collectively known as “Les Quartiers de Canal,” and is where you’ll find most of the best places to eat, drink, and shop. 

Staying here means you’ll be right on the Lachine Canal, one of our favorite parts of Montreal, and within a 15 minute metro ride of Downtown and Old Montreal (a little further to the Plateau). 

Pros and Cons of Staying in Griffintown

Here are the pros and cons of staying in Griffintown, at least as we see them.

Pros of Staying in Griffintown
  • The Lachine Canal. Trust us, it’s awesome. Especially by bike, which you can rent via Bixi, Montreal’s bikeshare program. 

  • Good food and drinks nearby. Between the places actually in Griffintown and the places over in Little Burgundy (a few blocks southwest on Rue Notre Dame), you probably could just eat and drink here and never leave (but that’s definitely not our recommendation). 

  • You’re close to Downtown and Old Montreal. You’re within walking distance (or a short metro ride) of both Downtown and Old Montreal, which will absolutely be on your Montreal itinerary
Cons of Staying in Griffintown
  • It’s a ~15 minute walk to the nearest metro station. To get to the nearest metro station that serves line 2, which is the most useful one, it’s a 15 minute walk. 

  • There are relatively few accommodation options. Since this area is dense and residential, there are relatively few hotel options to be found. Most of the hotels that do exist are in the area adjacent to Downtown, at the northeastern corner of the neighborhood. 

  • The options here skew more luxury (and expensive). Given the yuppie vibes, this area’s hotels skew a little more expensive and modern than other parts of the city. Though it’s worth noting that “expensive” is all relative (we’ve spent a fair amount of time in Vancouver in the past few years, and even the most expensive parts of Montreal are downright affordable, comparatively). 

  • You’re pretty far from the Plateau, Mile End, and Little Italy. The biggest disadvantage of staying in Griffintown is the fact that you’re on the opposite side of the center of the city from the Plateau, Mile End, and Little Italy, which is our favorite part of Montreal. It’s a 30-40 minute metro journey to Jean Talon Market, which is probably the furthest you’ll have to go. 

Griffintown / Little Burgundy Highlights

Here are a few places to eat, drink, and shop in the neighborhood (and further south along the canal) that stood out to us. 

White Heron Coffee Griffintown: In the top 3 of my favorite coffee shops in Montreal, White Heron Coffee is a coffee curator with multiple roasters, an excellent coffee program (both espresso and pour over), and creative specialty lattes and pastries. 

4 Origines – Microbrasserie / Pointe-St-Charles: Just across the canal, this is both a great brewery (though I can’t drink their beer) and a great atmosphere. Beer lovers in Montreal shouldn’t miss it!

Le Vin Papillon: A wine bar on Notre Dame with rotating glass pours and small plates that came recommended from a bartender up at vinvinvin. I trust the recommendation because vinvinvin was my favorite wine bar in Montreal. 

Marché Atwater: Part produce market, part covered market with cheese shops and butchers (and other stands). 

Atwater Cocktail Club: A cozy cocktail bar with a speakeasy vibe and a long line to get in. We went here early on a Friday and got in before the rush, but it was packed and the line was long by the time we left. Great cocktails organized by what kind of drink you’re looking for. 

Coffee selection at White Heron Coffee in Griffintown
A beautiful + delicious cocktail at Atwater Cocktail Club

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.