Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Last week, we took a trip to Montreal to explore the city’s diverse art and lifestyle scenes. We were welcomed at Hotel William Gray—an elevated family-owned boutique hotel downtown with sophisticated neighborhood charm, unique flair, and amenities galore. The building’s founder, town sheriff and merchant Edward-William Gray, built the property in two stages around 1785, so the hotel’s roots date back to the 18th century. Now entirely renovated and shining with special touches—like expansive spaces for relaxation on the first and second floors, a curated clothing and accessories store (Off the Hook, or “OTH”), a stunning restaurant (Maggie Oakes), an updated fitness center, Spa William Gray, and a seasonal pool, courtyard, and rooftop—the hotel greets guests and locals alike. The hotel also beams with special art-related details, like Alan Ganev’s artwork throughout the hotel, and whimsical drawings of birds by Montreal native Steven Spazuk in every guest room.
Special for us, as well, was the guidance of the hotel’s Director of Communications, Maria Antonopoulos, whose uncle and father co-own the hotel. Upon our early arrival, Antonopoulos suggested we see Mount-Royal and Saint-Joseph Oratory, and to take a stroll down Saint-Paul street—the city’s oldest street. She later guided us to breakfast at Olive et Gourmando, lunch at Mandy’s, and dinner at Le Bremner or Le Club Chasse et Pêche. Her suggestions to see eye-catching artworks at Galerie Le Royer and The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal did not disappoint either.
Through meals and art, and more local recommendations along the way, we found ourselves starting with coffee at the casual-chic, relaxing spot Tommy. The two-floor cafe, filled with plants and keen furniture and design pieces, offers great coffee and espresso, and small bites and desserts, too. From there, we had lunch at the counter of Le Butterblume enjoying the beetroot soup, pearl barley salad, and the German ravioli “maultasche.” We had a pre-dinner cocktail at Bar Darling—a rustic cafe and bar that opened earlier this year to include a large circular bar at its center, at-work tables in the front, and plenty of unforgettable charm in the booths in the back. Dinner was held at Foxy—one of the city’s best date restaurants, featuring a shotgun-style dining room, an open fire kitchen, dimly-lit interior, and fresh food that’s perfect for sharing.
We opted for the oven baked feta maison, charred cod, charred cauliflower. Per Antonopoulos’ initial suggestion, we checked out Coldroom, a speakeasy located at the opposite corner of our hotel, and made our way through its unmarked door. Downstairs, we found ourselves enjoying unique cocktails for an unforgettable experience in one of Montreal’s liveliest spots, managed by Daniel Boulianne. Her favorite after-hours spot instantly became ours too. And after, traveling just a few doors down the street, we entered Velvet—an underground lounge established in 1754 that is accessed through the catacombs under L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel—for some late-night dancing.
Day two began at the regal once-bank, now co-working space and cafe, Crew Collective & Cafe. The spaces’s expansive interior, reminiscent of Grand Central, still has structures dating back to the 1920s, and its original bank teller windows. We traveled to Foiegwa for a bite, which proved its hype. The small French brasserie, known for its exceptional food and relaxed atmosphere, welcomed us to a few must-have dishes—beef tartare, butter and black truffle pasta, and escargot.
Next, we moseyed next door to Atwater Cocktail Club for the establishment’s famed cocktails, enjoyed in a dark interior with mirrored ceilings and elongated red seats. We then ventured to Bar Kabinet for its Imperial Russian interior, and enjoyed an espresso martini. Its sister spot, DATCHA, connected inside by a floral fabric curtain, was perfect for dancing, DJs, and drinks, evoking a Brooklyn-meets-Montreal vibe.
Before we knew it, we were heading back to Hotel William Gray, and our time in Montreal was winding down. In the morning, we made one last neighborhood sweep, walking down Saint-Paul, grabbing coffee, and seeing street art. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but we departed with newfound knowledge: Montreal’s diverse culture scene is more than just on the rise—it’s here, it’s cultivated, and it’s artsy.