I travelled up to Montreal on a road-trip with Jessica and her parents a couple of weeks ago, and since we needed somewhere to stay over the weekend, I decided to take the opportunity to add to my collection of hotel reviews.
Usually I’m booking hotels for only one or two people, so now that we were travelling as a party of four, I faced a few new challenges in terms of choosing the right property. I preferred to book a single room that had occupancy for four, even if it were slightly more expensive than the base room, instead of two separate rooms at double the cost – but of course, the problem is that not every hotel has such rooms available.
After searching on the Marriott website using the criteria of one room and four people, I was happy to find that the Renaissance Montreal Downtown was selling a King Suite that fit my needs almost perfectly. The room had a separate bedroom and living area with a sofa bed, meaning that while the room was big enough for four of us, we’d still have some measure of privacy.
Best of all, considering the suite’s four-person occupancy, the prepaid rate (about six weeks before the trip) was a very reasonable $245 per night, so I went ahead and locked that down on a day when eBates was offering 10% cash back on Marriott hotel stays. The Renaissance is designated as a relatively high Category 6 within Marriott Bonvoy, so the points rate of 50,000 Bonvoy points per night would’ve given me a downright terrible value below 0.5 cents per point.
The hotel is located in the heart of Montreal, at the southwestern corner of Boulevard Robert-Bourassa and Rue Cathcart, a few minutes’ walk from important sites such as Rue Sainte-Catherine, McGill University, and Old Montreal. Arriving later in the evening following a long drive from Toronto, I took a few pictures of the hotel’s exterior the next morning.
(Parking at the hotel costs $35 per day for in-and-out access, and there are no discounts for Marriott elite members. Hence, we decided to park in the garage directly opposite the hotel for only $20 per day on the weekend.)
As you enter the hotel lobby, you come face-to-face with the quirky and forward-thinking decor that sets the tone for the entire property. The furniture in the lobby lounge is highly varied, with a swing chair suspended from the ceiling representing one particularly fun seating option.
There’s also a DJ booth perched in mid-air, accessible via a small spiral staircase in the back, which makes the place quite lively in the evenings.
While Jessica and her parents took a seat in the lobby lounge, I approached the front desk to check-in for our stay. I had corresponded with the hotel in advance, and knew that the only higher-ranked suite type than the one I had already booked was fully occupied this weekend, so I harboured no hopes of an upgrade.
The check-in associate did, however, offer me two separate choices of amenities: one choice between 1,000 Bonvoy points or a $10 food and beverage credit as a Titanium Elite member, and another choice between 500 Bonvoy points or daily breakfast for two in the restaurant as compensation for this Renaissance not having a lounge.
You see, as part of Marriott Bonvoy’s extremely convoluted elite breakfast benefits, Renaissance hotels are supposed to have lounges in which eligible elite members can take breakfast in the mornings. If a lounge isn’t available at a North American hotel, then you’re entitled to the choice I was given above.
Faced with these rather uninspiring choices, I instead asked the associate for what I truly wanted: daily breakfast for all four of us in the restaurant. Indeed, the Titanium elite benefit is supposed to be only for two people, so I was really hoping that the hotel would be willing to extend the benefit to our entire party of four. After a brief moment of consideration, the associate gladly agreed to give us breakfast for four, taking out two daily breakfast vouchers from the drawer and writing “4 adults” on them.
Taking those vouchers along with our room keys, we made our way to the elevators up to the 10th floor.
The offbeat decor continued into the guest room hallways. One of the walls was even made to look like it was vandalized with graffiti.
We had been assigned Room 1010, a King Suite on the corner of the building.
After a short entryway, the room opens up on your right-hand side to the living area, where the hotel staff had already gotten our sofa bed set up. Despite most of it having been converted into a bed, the large couch still had some seating space on the side.
In the opposite corner, you’ll find the flatscreen television and desk. The desk was on the smaller side in terms of its width, but was mostly usable.
The doorway to the bedroom is a sliding door with a “bubble” pattern cut-out within. Again, a design choice that was somewhat out of left field, particularly since it results in the door not really providing as much privacy as a bedroom door ought to.
The bedroom itself is quite an impressive size – large enough for a king bed and a chaise longue at the far end of the room. An artsy print and a decoration spelling out “Magnifique” adorned the respective walls above each of them.
Then on the opposite wall was another television, which could be viewed from the comfort of the king bed.
Jessica’s parents mentioned they slept very well in the bed, and that if anything it was “too big”. That’s a good problem to have 😉
The pantry and closet are positioned at the point where the entryway transforms into the living area. One of the cabinets can be opened downwards to become a sliding rack, where you’ll find the coffee machine and kettle. Above that is another cabinet with some more glassware.
There’s that zany graffiti look once again, which I must say didn’t quite resonate with me. Maybe I’m just being a party pooper, but I really don’t feel like I need to see “I love you Tommy” scribbled in Italian when I’m making my tea.
The same pattern furnishes the inside of the closet as well. Incidentally, I’ve never seen black bathrobes at a hotel before, which I suppose are to be expected given this hotel’s tendency to subvert design norms. On the plus side, they were very plush and comfortable.
Opposite the closet is the entrance to the bathroom, via a sliding door. The bathroom is pretty simple, consisting of a sink and mirror, toilet, and shower with rain shower capabilities.
I was pleased to see that the hotel had taken note of our larger party and provided four sets of towels in advance.
A welcome amenity of Lays potato chips and a signed note had been left on the desk. While I appreciated the note, the bag of chips is definitely one of the more underwhelming welcome amenities I’ve encountered along my travels.
The Renaissance Montreal also offers turndown service, and the housekeeping staff came at around 6:30pm on the second night of our stay to deliver a few sweets along with the next day’s weather forecast.
My overall impression of the room is mixed. There weren’t too many window views to speak of, since the hotel is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Montreal and is therefore surrounded by plain-looking city buildings. Moreover, the lighting in the room wasn’t great, so it was pretty dim in the evenings (as you can probably tell by the pictures).
On the other hand, it was a comfortable enough place for the four of us on a quick weekend stay, and at such a reasonable price point (especially since it’s in fact the second-highest suite type at the hotel), I really can’t complain too much.
Breakfast at the hotel is served at Le East, the Asian-fusion restaurant on the ground floor. While breakfast at the restaurant only lasts until 10:30am on weekdays, it transforms into brunch on the weekends, and so hotel guests can take their breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays until the unfashionably unfashionably late hour of 2pm.
The hotel’s breakfast amenity allows Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite members and above to order any one breakfast dish from the restaurant’s à la carte menu, which reads as follows:
Also included is coffee, tea, or fruit juice (although the server went to great lengths to explain that only regular juices are included and not the freshly squeezed varieties).
Over the course of the two mornings and among the four of us, we ended up trying quite a few dishes. The best breakfast item was probably the Renaissance Eggs Benedict, which consists of smoked salmon and poached eggs on a croissant and comes with home fries and fruits on the side. (Incidentally, this is also the most expensive breakfast entrée on the menu.)
The regular Eggs Benedict, which had ham instead of salmon, was tasty as well.
I ordered the standard Renaissance Breakfast on the second day, which was good but largely forgettable.
And we also tried some sweeter items, like the French Toast with maple syrup and berries, and the Renaissance Pancakes with whipped cream. Unfortunately, neither of them turned out to be particularly well-executed, so if you’re eating breakfast at this hotel, I’d recommend sticking to the savoury stuff.
We were busy walking around Montreal for most of the weekend, so didn’t spend too much of our time at the hotel. Nevertheless, I did go for an elevator ride to explore some of the hotel’s amenities and features.
The hotel’s fitness centre is located on Floor B2, the second-level basement. The wall stickers, exposed brick, and industrial piping gives the gym a grungy feel, as though you were exercising in a $5 discount gym in a sketchy part of town. Again, I can’t say I was a big fan of the look that they’re going for.
Up one level on Floor B1 is where you’ll find the hotel’s meeting spaces, which fortunately look a lot more civilized. There’s also a staircase here leading up to the lobby level.
In the lobby, a set of computer workstations serve as the hotel’s business centre.
Finally, the top floor of the Renaissance Montreal Downtown is home to the AIR Rooftop Patio, where you can enjoy slightly more elevated views of the city over lunch or dinner.
There’s also a small rooftop pool, which was of course closed on this late April day which somehow was still witnessing near-freezing temperatures. Nevertheless, according to the pictures on the hotel website, it sure looks like a nice place to take a dip in warmer weather.
The Renaissance Montreal Downtown advertises itself as a “luxury hotel with modern decor”, but I’d say it’s more of a boutique lifestyle property with an over-imaginative definition of the word “modern”. While the decor wasn’t really to my taste, there’s no denying that the hotel’s King Suite was ideally suited to our four-person travel party, and at a very reasonable price point as well.
I’d recommend taking a look at this hotel (and the King Suite in particular) if you’re travelling as a larger group and would like to avoid paying for separate rooms. But if it weren’t for those circumstances, I thought the Renaissance was nice enough but didn’t feel overly impressed by it, so I’d probably try out a different hotel the next time I need one in Montreal.