Well-placed on St Paul Street and overlooking the St Lawrence River, historic Montreal and modern hospitality make bewitching bedfellows at the Auberge du Vieux-Port hotel. Nothing was overlooked in the renovation of this mid-1800s warehouse building loaded with period details like exposed beams, rough brick walls, wrought iron beds and original casement windows that you can fling open to survey the rolling river or cobblestoned streets below.
Inviting gastro pub
10 per cent off food and beverage at Taverne Gaspar
In the know
Also need to know:
The hotel is completely non-smoking. There is no fitness centre at the hotel, but complimentary passes for a nearby gym are available. Revive after a day of museum hopping or boutique browsing with an in-room massage which can be arranged from neighbouring Rainspa.
Binoculars for spying ships floating down the Saint Lawrence from your river-view room or the rooftop bar.
Even if you don’t speak French, you can still look like a local by draping yourself in a cosmopolitan palette of sharp blacks and grey.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
My band and I were only two weeks into a six-week tour that was proving to be one of the snowiest, white-knuckle driving endeavors any of us had experienced. Who knew I needed a drummer that also doubled as a blizzard-defying wizzard behind the wheel? We were ready for a break. Thankfully, just as we entered Montreal, the scowling winter clouds lifted and we were afforded a brief reprieve with flake-free weather.
A change that was much needed, and only topped by our arrival at the Auberge du Vieux-Port, a boutique hotel overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. Winding our way towards the harbor and down a charming cobbled street, the stone facade of this renovated warehouse building with its waving flags and torchlights glistening in the dewy harbor mist, was a sight for our squinty, road-weary eyes.
Greeted by a friendly bellman, our car was whisked away and we were welcomed into the glow of the warm lobby furnished with deep leather couches and hand-loomed rugs. It was as if we’d stepped back into a luxury hotel of a different era – when travel was exotic and meaningful, rather than a means to a business meeting, or, in our case, a gig.
Heading up to my River View King Premier Room, I tried to play it cool, but couldn’t hide my excitement about the postcard-perfect scene of twinkling lights and bobbing boats right outside my windows. The interiors – lofted ceilings, thick wood beams, exposed brick walls from the factory days and a raft of a bed with an antique wrought-iron frame – were worth getting all worked up about, too.
But my main interest was the bathroom. Or should I say the ensuite spa? Heated floors, a massive soaking tub with whirlpool jets and the loveliest bath products I've ever bubbled with. So incredible, in fact, that I later ordered the Essential Elements sea salt and eucalyptus bath salts to be shipped home as a souvenir to Mr Smith, who was sadly not on tour with me.
After a good long soak (which tacked years back onto my life) I met my bandmates for dinner downstairs at Taverne Gaspar, a chummy English-style gastro pub with a Quebec accent. Our waitress steered me in the direction of an earthy cabernet to pair with my expertly cooked filet. We, of course, had to make it an all out meat-fest by going in for the decadent braised beef poutine, too. I mean, when in Rome... or Montreal, ya know?
With a food coma setting in nicely, I returned to my room. Now, in true rocker style I suppose it’s expected that I should've been busy clearing out the mini-bar and trashing the joint. Instead, I lazed in front of the comforting glow of the modern in-wall fireplace and floated off to sleep on the cloud-like bed.
I woke up refreshed (no small thing when on tour) and, thinking it a good idea to work off at least a fraction of the last night’s overzealous ordering, I set out for a stroll. The concierge drew a helpful map and I navigated the Old City with ease. I strolled down Saint Paul Street, peeking into boutiques and admiring restored buildings, before stopping off at Olive and Gourmando, a cute, local hang serving sandwiches, salads, breakfast specialties, pastries and a gorgeous selection of local cheese. It’s basically that's perfect-anytime-cafe that anchors a neighborhood.
Following a quick (and delicious) bite, I checked in at Rainspa for a rejuvenating facial. The highlight of this two-story spa with 10 treatment rooms was the eucalyptus steam room, for sure. It worked wonders for my tour-worn vocal chords and prepped me for a fantastic show that evening with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
At the risk of disappointing all about the wild out-until-dawn rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the only thing I could think about post-show was returning to my room for another eucalyptus bath in that insanely luxurious tub. I might be the only musician who could turn a tour stay into a spa retreat. Soak, rest, repeat.
But, can you blame me? With a sanctuary of a room and a cozy pub downstairs, I had everything I needed right there. Well, except Mr Smith, which gives me the perfect excuse to find my way back to Montreal and the Auberge du Vieux-Port. If you need me, I’ll be in the bath…
97, rue de la Commune Street Est, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1J1, Canada
5.0 mi / 8.0 km from city centre
- Onsite laundry
- Valet parking
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Internet services
Fashioned after a British gastro pub, Taverne Gaspar’s dining room – with its rough stone walls, tin ceilings and suspender-clad wait staff – has the look down. However, the comfort food focused menu moves beyond the expected fish and chips (on the menu and delicious, though). Dishes such as creamy macaroni and cheese, rich poutine and steak frites give this spot its distinctly French-Canadian accent.
In the warmer months, the café tables on the river-facing patio are the ideal people-watching perch. Otherwise, settle in near the big bay windows at one of the simple tables with leather cushioned banquette seating.
Taverne Gaspar serves breakfast from 7:30am to 10:30am on weekdays and until 11:30pm on weekends. Drop in for dinner from 5pm to 10pm, Sunday to Wednesday, and the kitchen stays open until 12midnight on Thursday to Saturday. Terrasse Sur l’Auberge (open M
Room service is available from Taverne Gaspar and is based on their daily menu during breakfast and dinner hours when the restaurant is open.
Pop by Taverne Gaspar year-round during dinner hours for a pint of Gasper lager or other local brews. Open late spring to early fall, the rooftop bar, Terrasse Sur l’Auberge, is a summer hot spot. Cool off with a signature Martini Bulles Glace, a bracing blend of Quebec ice cider, vodka and sparkling wine and nibble on locally-focused tapas such as Quebec duck foie gras and beef tartare.