Love is in the air. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the idea of a romantic getaway is an appealing one. You might think of Paris, or even New York city as the ideal romantic getaway, but Canada has no shortage of romantic destinations, and a recent trip to Montreal and Quebec City confirmed as much. These are two of Canada’s most historic and culturally-diverse cities – and it just so happens that they’re graced with some of the best hotels, too.
Like most Ritz-Carlton, properties, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal is designed to be an enclave of luxuriousness. Like most Ritz-Carltons, it succeeds. But there are a few things that truly set this classic 1912-built hotel apart.
To start with, this was the first branded Ritz-Carlton hotel in North America. It was constructed by the Carlton Company of Montreal, and was originally to have been called “The Carlton.” But the man behind the Carlton Company personally knew Cesar Ritz, who lent his name to the new Montreal hotel for a cool $25,000. The only stipulation: the hotel must maintain the high standards that Caesar Ritz set out for his own property, the Hotel Ritz Paris. Hence, the first Ritz-Carlton hotel was born.
Today, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal tops the lists of the best hotels in Canada. Last summer, Travel + Leisure readers named it as their favorite city hotel in the country.
“We at Ritz-Carlton Montreal are delighted to be selected the ‘No. 1 city hotel in Canada,” Andrew Torriani, CEO and General Manager, said at the time. “It is an honour to be recognized by such a well-regarded travel publication. We take great pride in maintaining high standards of quality in all areas from design, to service and amenities, and are grateful for the recognition by all the readers who took the time to vote.”
So why steal away here for a Valentine’s Day to remember? It starts when you walk through the revolving doors off Sherbrooke Street and enter into the gorgeous lobby. With an unassuming Reception Desk off the left, the first thing you set eyes on is the Palm Court – the hotel’s opulent, baroque lounge that also does double-duty as the only Dom Perignon Champagne Bar in the entire country. If Champagne isn’t to your liking, their legendary Afternoon Tea service is well worth the $32 per person price of admission (or $45 with a glass of Champagne).
Thanks to a recent multi-million dollar renovation, rooms at the hotel are sublime. My Signature King guest room – a very ‘mid-level’ accommodation – came in at a spacious 500 square feet and included a massive walk-in closet, an elegant living area with king bed, multiple seating options, and a full-sized desk. The room also had a dual-vanity bathroom complete with a separate shower, a giant soaker tub, and an electronic toilet that became an object of fascination. Equally wonderful are the digitally-controlled lights, which can be turned on, off or dimmed to your liking with the push of a button.
A Romance Package is available starting from $790 per night that provides overnight accommodation, one bottle of Veuve du Vernay, chocolate covered Truffles, rose petals, a full American Breakfast for two in bed, romantic turndown service, late 3:00p.m. checkout, and overnight valet parking. Best of all, you don’t have to purchase this on February 14; the hotel offers it until April 30, along with a whole host of other special packages.
Few properties however, are more romantic than Quebec City’s Auberge Saint-Antoine, situated in the heart of the city’s historic Old Port district in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vieux Quebec.
The Auberge Saint-Antoine is integral to the history of Quebec City. The hotel integrates three historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, plus a wharf and battery structure that date back to the end of the 17th centuries. A modern lobby and reception area links these very distinct buildings together, and even in this elegant space, care has been taken to ensure the lobby and bar don’t look out of context.
The hotel incorporates earthen walls designed to look like the whitewashed walls of old. Reclaimed wood in the form of massive pilings has been added as accents to the main Reception and Concierge desks. And throughout the lobby, designers have strove to ensure a connection with the world outside, through wooden accents on furniture, lighting pieces designed to mimic tree branches, and ample wood and stone elements that are seamlessly integrated into the floors.
You’re also likely to notice the historic artifacts that have been placed throughout the hotel in backlight, lightbox-style enclosures inserted into the walls. Over 700 are currently on-display in the hotel, creating a remarkable sense of place that is missing from many modern properties. And it is that individuality that makes the Auberge Saint-Antoine so wonderfully romantic.
The 95 guest rooms and suite feature all the luxurious touches you’d expect from a hotel affiliated with the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group, and the Auberge delivers, with rooms offering Bose sound systems, luxurious beds, plush robes and luxury bath amenities, electronic toilets, and even heated flooring and no-fog mirrors in the vast majority of rooms. No two rooms are alike, and each has a story to tell. My advice? Book a room in the historic ‘Maison Hunt’ building for a truly unique experience.
The hotel has been nominated for – and won – more awards than I can list here. But the crown jewel is Panache, the Auberge Saint-Antoine’s on-site Relais & Chateaux restaurant that offers a modern take on traditional Quebecois cuisine. Headed up by the talented Chef Louis Pacquelin, the food is absolutely sublime, and the atmosphere – set inside an old 19th century wooden building – is astonishing. Service is as good as you would expect, and always manages to straddle that fine line between accommodating and discreet.
For the romantic, the only way to go is the $200 per person signature menu that features seven courses with wine pairings from the restaurant’s 12,000-bottle cellar. At four full hours, this was the one dining experience I wished would never end.
The Auberge Saint-Antoine has a Valentine’s Day package on offer for bookings from February 12 to 14, 2016. Starting at $869 per night, it includes a one-night stay in an elegant Comfort room; a half-bottle of Champagne and a chocolate treat delivered upon arrival, plus turn down service and a romantic 5-course dinner for two in Panache (with all service charges included). The package also includes À la carte breakfast in Panache, (service charges included), and complimentary valet parking.
Best of all, these are two very romantic properties at any time of year. Spring is wonderful, and winters – while cold – highlight the striking beauty of these two places. My own visit took place in fall, as the leaves began to change colour and flutter to the ground.
As a Canadian, I sometimes don’t explore my own country as much as I should. It’s a shame, because there’s a lot to love here – and a lot to like about these two great hotels in la belle province.
The post Exploring Two of Canada’s Most Romantic Cities – and Hotels appeared first on From The Deck Chair.