Your budget-friendly guide to Montréal
Travelling to Montréal – or even playing tourist in your own hometown – needn’t break the bank. In fact, quite the opposite: Montréal is a year-round hotbed of budget-friendly accommodations, shopping options and super-fun and affordable activities. Consider the following to be your guide to some of the best deals in town, beginning with an especially sweet deal.
Does your wallet have a sweet tooth?
They’re not called Sweet Deals for nuthin’, and the year-round Sweet Deals offers (50% off the second night of your hotel stay) are the proverbial icing on the cake of your trip to Montréal. Starting at $105 ($86 U.S.), there are a variety of top Montréal hotels to choose from, several of which are mentioned below. And sweetening the Sweet Deal, partakers also receive a coupon booklet worth up to $500 – loads and loads of discounts at top attractions, restaurants, museums, spas, galleries, boutiques and more – upon check-in at the hotel.
Downtown hotels: where the price is right
Mere steps from the storied AMC Forum (former home of the Montreal Canadiens), the modern suites of the La Tour Belvédère Apartment Hotel are a block from major east/west shopping and eating artery Sainte-Catherine Street. In the heart of Montréal’s historic Golden Square Mile, the Château Versailles is a completely renovated 19th-century home close to must-see spots like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The tasteful accommodations of Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites provide an optimal option a short walk from Central Station, the Bell Centre and the Quartier des Spectacles. Located in the Quartier Latin just above a lively stretch of Saint Denis Street, the comfy Auberge le Jardin d’Antoine puts you close to Old Montréal and the Gay Village especially. A few blocks away, Auberge Le Pomerol is known for its tranquil ambiance, comfort and the breakfast baskets that are delivered to each room. And the Hôtel St. Denis is proximate to all the cheerful pubs, bistros and intimate live music venues that the Quartier Latin is renowned for.
Take up another type of residence
McGill University Traditional Residences provide dormitory-style lodging in two convenient downtown locations: Bishop Mountain Hall (on the slope of the Mount Royal) and Royal Victoria College (downtown). All rooms are equipped with desks and include access to a shared bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities. For its part, Concordia University’s historic Grey Nuns Residence is located right downtown and rooms can accommodate one-to-two people, include access to high-speed internet, and have a fridge. Hostels provide another low-cost option, and the Auberge de Jeunesse HI Montréal offers both shared and private rooms, and daily activities are organized to allow travellers to discover Montréal. For its part, the inviting Gîte du Plateau Mont-Royal has all the amenities and has been known to host concerts and BBQs, while the Alexandrie Hostel in the Gay Village has furnished apartments that can accommodate up to six guests.
And shopping for all!
Shopping in Montréal need not be an exercise in self-inflicted impoverishment. There are numerous places and spaces with many somethings for everyone, beginning with the stylish and popular Complexe Desjardins, located smack in the middle of the Quartier des Spectacles. Its 110 shops and restaurants are set around a large public square that sees over 200 days of events per year. Complexe Desjardins is also an access point into the city’s famed Underground City, a 32-km subterranean pedestrian network crammed with shopping opportunities. Starting with Complexe Desjardins at the eastern end, you can make your way westward to the Promenades Cathédrale, Montréal Eaton Centre, Place Montréal Trust and Place Ville Marie underground shopping malls, all with a rainbow of retail choices for all budgets, and all within easy walking distance of each other.
Meanwhile, back on the surface of the Earth…
Quintessentially Montréal aboveground shopping options include the four locations of versatile women’s fashion retailer Onze Montréal, whose classic styles are inspired by a love of the city, and also the Plateau/Mile End’s Espace miXmiX, which specializes in made-in-Québec men’s and women’s outdoor fashion. Montréal also has many top-notch vintage fashion shops and fripperies – go-to stores like Les Folles Alliées, ERA Vintage and the legendary Eva B among them – each with their own particular character and offerings. And those willing to invest in the 35-minute drive to Mirabel just outside the city will find that the very popular, chalet-village-style Premium Outlets mall pays big dividends for folks looking for discounted, exclusive name-brand labels.
Get your “Passeport” (no, that’s not a typo) to Montréal!
As amazing access and awesome deals go, it really doesn’t get much better than the MTL Passeport. The “passport,” which comes in two-day and three-day versions (for only $85 and $99 respectively), gives access to no less than 29 top-tier Montréal attractions and unlimited public transportation. Among the hotspots granting free admission with the presentation of your MTL Passeport are Observatoire Place Ville Marie, the Ecomuseum Zoo, the McCord Museum (which is also free for kids 12 and under), the Grévin Montréal wax museum, the Botanical Garden and Insectarium, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain (free for kids under 12 and half-price Wednesday evenings). And speaking of art, if self-guided tours of public art are more to your liking, then Art Public Montréal seriously has you covered with tons of fascinating, thematic walking tours of varying durations in many of the city’s most dynamic neighbourhoods.
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.