On the eve of my recent move from Montreal back to Toronto, I was in the mood to pay tribute to our time in Montreal in an exciting and memorable way, and so my thoughts naturally drifted to a staycation at one of the city’s fancy hotels.
Indeed, Jessy and I had really enjoyed living in the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood for a short stint, and so we decided that we’d probably rent a cozy Airbnb in the same area when we returned to Montreal in the future, rather than staying at a chain hotel like we might usually do.
Therefore, this would likely be one of my last opportunities to add to my collection of Montreal hotel reviews. And having already reviewed the Renaissance, Delta, and Ritz-Carlton, I was eager to finish things off with one of my favourite hotel brands and their only Canadian location to date: the W Montreal.
In This Post
- Location & Arrival
- Extreme WOW Suite
- WOW Suite
- Fabulous King Room with Park View
- Wonderful King Room
- Other Facilities
W Montreal – Booking
Now, if I’m being honest, I’ve visited the W Montreal before when a friend was staying there and wasn’t overly impressed – at least not in the way that other Ws around the world have dazzled and delighted me in the past.
Certainly, it’s a nice hotel in the city centre, but if I were celebrating the end of a chapter in Montreal, I wanted to make it as special as possible, and so my goal was to book the hotel’s top-tier Extreme WOW Suite.
Even though I’ve tried a good handful of different W locations by now, one part of the whole experience that has eluded me thus far is the Extreme WOW Suite, which are meant to be the most bombastic and ostentatious suites within each property, taking the energy and exuberance that’s synonymous with the W brand to the very maximum level.
Looking at the cash rates of the Extreme WOW Suite here at the W Montreal, I was somewhat surprised to see that it was “only” about $1,000–1,500 per night, which is a lot cheaper than what other Extreme WOW Suites around the world might typically be priced at. I had a feeling that I might be able to chance an upgrade to the Extreme WOW Suite from a base room, whereas that would be a lot tougher to accomplish at other Ws globally.
And so, after making a reservation for $300 for the cheapest room (which I intended to offset with an Amex Offer for “Spend US$200, Get US$50” on my Amex US Bonvoy Card, and which didn’t quite justify the points cost of 50,000 Bonvoy points as a Category 6 hotel), I reached out to the hotel to put in my request.
(For full disclosure, in addition to mentioning my Titanium Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, I also flexed some PR muscles and mentioned that I run a website where I review hotels and have highlighted several other W properties in the past. I rarely pull out this “card” in the spirit of keeping my reviews objective, but hey, in this case, the heart wants what the heart wants.)
After a few days, the reply came from the hotel: while the W Montreal never offers the Extreme WOW Suite as a free upgrade to elite members, in this case they were willing to reduce the standard $750 paid upgrade fee to $200 in exchange for the publicity from covering the hotel.
I was pretty satisfied with that, and so took them up on their offer, thus locking in my first Extreme WOW Suite experience.
W Montreal – Location & Arrival
The W Montreal is situated centrally within the city, right adjacent to Square Victoria in the Quartier International part of Downtown Montreal. The Square-Victoria–OACI metro station on the Orange Line is immediately outside the hotel’s front doors, making it ideal for getting on public transport and heading to other parts of the city.
Having said that, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the W’s location is ideal for a tourist, as it’s kind of nestled in the middle of a cluster of office buildings that continue for several blocks in every direction, so there isn’t all that much to do near the hotel itself.
Popular tourist sites like the Old Port, Sainte-Catherine Street, or Crescent Street are all a 15-minute walk away. On one hand, there are other hotels that might be situated right on the doorstep of these attractions; on the other hand, if you like to be smack-dab in the middle of the city and don’t mind a quick walk either, then the W Montreal’s central location makes sense too.
Since I was keen on maximizing my time in the Extreme WOW Suite, I of course showed up bright and early at 10am to complete my check-in.
The front doors to the hotel face directly onto the south side of Square Victoria, although I should also note that there’s a second underground entrance that can be accessed from the metro station as well, allowing guests to come and go without braving the cold in the winter.
W Montreal – Check-in
As far as W hotel lobbies go, the Montreal location can be described as somewhat unassuming… at least compared to the soaring lofted ceilings in Suzhou or the bright-red stylized Petra canyon in Amman.
The lobby lounge draws upon a multicoloured palette and a variety of different lighting styles (take note of the geometric cube-shaped light fixtures inspired by Montreal’s Habitat 67 housing complex, which we’ll see again later on).
During regular times, I could see this place being very lively, although the hotel was at 3% occupancy when I visited, so the lobby was naturally deserted throughout my stay.
The front desk is found to your left upon entering the hotel, and there are both sit-down and standing check-in counters available.
The on-duty manager, Elgin, verified my documents and asked for my signature for the upgrade fee of $200 plus taxes. Then, he gave the housekeeping team a quick call to verify that the Extreme WOW Suite was ready, and with that, he handed me the keys to Room 1001 on the 10th floor.
W Montreal – Extreme WOW Suite
The interior hallways are an interesting mix of bleach-white walls, jet-black floors, and golden arrow-shaped markings on the ground. It felt like the inside of a racetrack on a spaceship, or something like that, and like any good W property, it certainly piqued your curiosity and made you wonder.
The W Montreal has three Extreme WOW Suites: Rooms 1001, 1012, and 1013. Room 1001 is the largest and most popular unit, and in addition to being the best suite in the house, it often serves as a space for events, gatherings, and bachelor(ette) parties.
The Extreme WOW Suite took my breath away as soon as I stepped inside.
A stretch of colourful carpeting was the first thing that greeted my eyes, morphing into a shelf that stretched halfway up the two-storey walls, designed in the image of the platform seats at Montreal’s Villa-Maria metro station.
In the middle, a two-sided couch whose shape was reminiscent of the island of Montreal itself.
Taking a few steps inward, let’s turn to our left and take a walk through the living space. A giant circular movie screen occupies the wall up here, ostensibly allowing guests to play movies and watch TV from the projector mounted on the opposite wall.
In front of the movie screen is a series of interlocking structures and surfaces, some of which were topped with plush fabric and therefore intended for sitting, while others were topped with a faux marble finish and therefore intended for placing stuff. Again, the inspiration of Habitat 67 in the lattice-like design was clear to see.
The countertop here also served as the suite’s pantry, playing host to a Nespresso machine, a kettle, and a series of cabinets containing far more storage space than we needed for our one-night staycation.
Turning to the opposite side of the living space, there’s an extended couch, a coffee table, and two gorgeous chairs whose sides and back were made of black marble slates, all underlain by a distinctive piece of carpeting that’s meant to evoke Montreal’s summer fireworks.
To the side, we have another lattice-like table with seating for eight, bathed in sunlight by the impressive floor-to-ceiling windows with commanding views of Square Victoria outside. We’ll come back and check out the balcony momentarily.
For now, let’s swivel around and head towards the bedroom and bathroom on the opposite end of the Extreme WOW Suite – although neither can really be described as “rooms” given how open-concept everything is.
The “bedroom” is truly a wonderful sight to behold. The king bed is adorned overhead with what’s easily the most striking architectural feature of the suite: a massive complex of golden interlocking light fixtures, inspired by – you guessed it – one of Montreal’s most recognizable buildings in Habitat 67.
The lighting structure is an absolute piece of work, and I couldn’t help but marvel at it again and again, hardly believing that it was real even after sleeping underneath it!
The bed is flanked by two end tables made of black marble blocks, as well as a television on one side and a working desk with a heavy-set director’s chair on the other.
That brings us to the Extreme WOW Suite’s bathroom – if you can even call it that. It’s elevated a few steps above the rest of the suite…
…for no apparent purpose other than to allow the bathtub to be sunken into the ground.
Very, very interesting indeed.
The outlandishness doesn’t stop there, because you’ll find the shower positioned on the other side of the bathtub, with clear glass walls on three of its four sides, allowing – nay, obliging – the shower occupant to see their own reflection in the bathroom mirrors. It’s certainly not a shower for the self-conscious!
The shower consists of three separate modes: a shower nozzle from up top, a handheld nozzle, and a set of twin jets that can blast water at your torso. There’s also a skylight immediately above the shower, and after the extravagance of the rest of the suite, I was mildly disappointed that there was no rain shower coming down from all the way up there… now that would’ve been something special.
Compared to the bathtub and shower, the sinks (there were two of them) and toilet (housed in a small unit to the side, giving the bathroom its only shred of privacy) seem like minor footnotes in comparison.
Indeed, if you’re sharing the Extreme WOW Suite with others and staying overnight, you’d better be very comfortable with your fellow guests, because there’s virtually zero privacy when you’re washing up – even by W Hotels standards!
Finally, a few more features round out the Extreme WOW Suite, such as a powder room near the entrance, a series of spacious closets and wardrobes, and even an adjoining kitchenette that consists of a sink and microwave, which is often used for catering purposes when the suite is rented out for events.
And of course, the balcony, which is fairly wide and seems like a great place to hang out in the summer. Given the hotel’s location, the views mostly consist of office buildings and tower blocks, although the birds-eye view of Square Victoria underneath is quite nice.
With 4pm late checkout secured for the following day, Jessy and I managed to spend nearly 30 hours revelling in the Extreme WOW Suite, spending the evening with a few of Jessy’s close friends, blasting sentimental songs over the speaker late at night, or otherwise just going about our daily obligations in the midst of our spectacular surroundings.
(One downside to our stay in the Extreme WOW Suite was that we couldn’t get the movie projector to work properly, even with a hotel staff member’s help, and furthermore the hotel’s technician was also not on-site at the time. At least the audio on the speakers worked just fine!)
Ultimately, as a hotel room, the Extreme WOW Suite is beautiful, unconventional, and way over-the-top for anyone’s needs. Unless you’re much better at “suite-talking” than I am and manage to score an upgrade, it’s not really a hotel room that I think most folks could justify paying for outside of very special occasions.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to throw a big bash or host a memorable bachelor or bachelorette party, then I think it’d make an excellent venue with fairly reasonable rates, generally starting at $1,000–1,500 for the night or a $750 standard upgrade cost from the base-level room.
W Montreal – WOW Suite
Now, this review of the W Montreal wouldn’t provide too much value if it was only focused on the top-tier suite for which I had received a special rate. So I decided to ask Elgin, the on-duty manager, if I could take a quick tour through some of the other rooms and suites as well, and he was more than happy to oblige.
First, we took a look at a WOW Suite on the 10th floor, the hotel’s second-highest suite type. The WOW Suites are usually not provided as a complimentary upgrade to elite members either, but they are eligible to be requested through your Suite Night Awards (SNAs), so there’s a fair chance of getting this suite if you’re staying at the W Montreal as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member or above.
Like the Extreme WOW Suites, the WOW Suites are two-level spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows, and in this case they actually have the living space on the ground floor and a staircase leading up the bedroom on the second level.
The living space consists of a sitting area, television, a small alcove for the desk, and a half-bathroom to the side. There’s also a north-facing balcony with the same views overlooking Square Victoria.
Then, taking the stairs up a level, you’ll arrive at the bedroom and bathroom.
The bathroom (which, notably, does not offer a bathtub) affords a very slight degree of greater privacy than the Extreme WOW Suite, but not by much: the shower is encased in clear blue glass planes, meaning that everyone downstairs can kind of see what’s happening up here.
Overall, it’s a very interesting suite in terms of the layout, although it does feel a little smaller in terms of square footage than a WOW Suite should be. Then again, that may be because I was spending most of my time over in the Extreme WOW.
W Montreal – Fabulous King Room with Park View
I also had a chance to take a look at a Fabulous King Room with Park View on the 8th floor, which is the hotel’s highest room type (before we get into the suites). For a non-suite option, the Fabulous King Room actually affords quite a decent amount of space, and I think it’d be a solid upgrade request if you were staying as a Marriott Gold Elite member.
The king bed, chaise longue, working area, and bathroom are all quite large, and there’s still ample space in the room beyond the interior furniture. The bathroom even offers – gasp! – some measure of privacy in the form of a set of curtains.
Compared to some of the hotel’s more attention-grabbing suites, the Fabulous King Room might actually be a better choice for, say, a young family travelling with a child or two.
(I should note that I’ve previously gotten the chance to take a look at the W Montreal’s Fantastic Suite, too, back when my friend was staying here. I’d describe the Fantastic Suite as similar to the Fabulous King Room with a fair bit more space, so that’s the suite to pick if you’re staying as a Platinum Elite member or above and don’t necessarily want to burn your Suite Night Awards.)
W Montreal – Wonderful King Room
Finally, I also got a chance to peek at the W Montreal’s Wonderful King Room, which is its cheapest base-level room that consists of a bed, desk, bathroom, and not much more. It’s a pretty simple and no-nonsense setup.
The Wonderful Room on the 10th floor – Room 1002, right adjacent to Room 1001 – offers a balcony, but all the other Wonderful Rooms on other floors do not.
In fact, Room 1002 is actually adjoining with the Extreme WOW Suite next door, and can often be booked together and used as an additional side space for the top-tier suite.
As Elgin described it to me, often times when celebrities stay in Room 1001, their bodyguards might take Room 1002. Or perhaps a set of parents might book the Extreme WOW and give the adjoining Wonderful King Room to their children, or something like that.
Some lucky children they must be…
W Montreal – Breakfast
Since my stay took place at the end of October while Montreal was under lockdown measures, many of the hotel’s facilities and services were either closed or offered in limited capacity. That included the complimentary breakfast for Marriott Bonvoy elite members, which could only be delivered to the room in pre-packaged boxes – even plated food delivered to the room was not allowed.
The limited breakfast menu looked as follows, and I was informed that we’d each be entitled to a $29 allowance to spend on breakfast, for a total of $58:
I ordered an Eggs Benedict with home fries on the side, whereas Jessy opted for the avocado toast with salad, and we got some coffee and juice on top of that as well.
Everything was delivered to our suite the following morning, although the presentation was very much a reflection of COVID-era challenges.
Everything tasted pretty good, though, and I do regret that I missed out on the full breakfast experience down in the Tbsp. restaurant here at this hotel.
As I understand it, during regular times, breakfast is also à la carte rather than buffet-style, and elite members are treated to a $29 allowance off a more fulsome breakfast menu.
W Montreal – Other Facilities
Also during regular times, I have a feeling the W Montreal’s 40s-inspired bar, known as Bartizen, would be a very fun spot to hang out and get a drink in the evenings. Alas, it was closed and deserted for now.
I also asked Elgin if I could take a look at the hotel’s fitness centre, which was also closed for the time being due to local lockdown measures.
The gym (known as “FIT” in the W lingo) is located underground, and offers a decent selection of exercise equipment. Like the rest of the hotel, however, it does feel a little bit constrained in terms of square footage.
The W Montreal previously offered a spa, but it has now been discontinued due to a lack of patronage and the fact that there are many other popular spas in the neighbourhood, so they’re looking to repurpose the space into something else in the near future.
Meanwhile, the hotel also does not offer a swimming pool, which is quite unusual for a W, as the pool (known as “WET”) is often seen as a cornerstone of the W’s whole party-hotel vibe.
Elgin mentioned that this was due to the historic status of the building in which the hotel was situated, making it tough to add new facilities to the hotel – and that’s too bad, because a rooftop pool and deck would’ve been the icing on the cake for this property.
For me, experiencing the W Montreal’s Extreme WOW Suite was a perfect way to close out my chapter in Montreal.
Lying in bed after a warm bath in the sunken-in bathtub, underneath a golden Habitat-like structure, looking out at the city lights through our floor-to-ceiling windows with Taylor Swift’s Folklore on the speakers – it was a dream sendoff to a city that will forever be part of our story.
If you’re looking to celebrate a memorable occasion or throw a big party in Montreal, then the Extreme WOW Suite or even the WOW Suite are very good choices for that purpose. Meanwhile, I think the Fabulous King Room with Park View could be a great choice as well at a more reasonable price point.
In terms of the hotel itself, outside of the special suite upgrade, my overall impressions are mixed. Its location is central but perhaps better suited to business visitors than tourists, while it offers some excellent in-house amenities (like the beautiful lobby bar and lounge), but other notable features are missing (like a swimming pool).
It’s a property worth trying if you’re a fan of the W brand, but otherwise, in the market of mid-to-upper-range hotels, I’d probably recommend a place like the Renaissance over the W in terms of the overall value proposition.
To date, the W Montreal is the only W property in Canada, but it won’t be for long – because the W Toronto is opening right on my doorstep in early 2021, and I can’t wait to check that one out and see how it compares.