If you’re looking for a big Montreal hotel with lots of facilities that’s within easy reach of everything central, the Doubletree Montreal Hotel is a great choice. It even has a whole mall with an extensive food court and a grocery store in the same building, so in the freezing Quebec winters you can leave your coat in the room.
This wasn’t a Doubletree by Hilton when I stayed there, I must confess. The Hyatt Regency Montreal was a long-time fixture of the city, right across from the Place des Artes and Quartier des Spectacles. It was the place where many International Jazz Festival musicians stayed. I was rubbing shoulders with some of them in the elevator when I was there writing about the festival and could see why they were happy with their sleeping arrangements. They could walk out the main doors and be on stage after a five-minute walk at most.
In today’s corporate hotel chain world though, one day a Hyatt, one day a Hilton, depending on who just bought the building or what contract length the developer signed with the management company. These days most of the big logo chains that are household names in travel don’t actually own the properties. They just staff them, manage them, and take care of the reservations.
There haven’t been a lot of reviews since the changeover took place in December 2018, but in all likelihood there was just be a change of uniforms and loyalty point schemes. The fundamental amenities and rooms didn’t undergo any kind of renovations that would disrupt the guest flow and the switch was immediate.
This is a commanding building, going up 20 stories and housing 595 rooms. This is on top of a whole floor of meeting facilities, an indoor pool area, an outdoor patio, and that three-level shopping mall. So the first thing you do upon arrival is take an elevator past all that to the lobby. Check-in moved like a well-oiled machine when I arrived, with eight staffers shuffling around behind the long reception counter.
Despite the size though, the hotel has multiple sitting areas that make it feel less like a big convention hotel. There’s one with sofas and two fireplaces, one by a wall of glass, then an attractive lounge area with a big curving bar centerpiece in the middle of a spacious room. This is a much more stylish space than you usually find with either Hyatt or Doubletree properties, the kind of place that feels more like a cool city cocktail lounge than a hotel bar. They also have a few local craft brews on tap and a great selection of wines by the glass. Off to the side are a couple pool tables and there are sofas around TVs for catching a big sporting event.
The restaurant selection is rather slim for such a large hotel: just one restaurant open for a breakfast buffet and another open for dinner. It’s easy to understand why though when you take the elevators down. There are a couple dining spots on lower levels of the building that serve sit-down meals, plus there are another dozen within two blocks on Rue Sainte-Catherine out the exit.
The owners had already put more than $20 million of renovations into the property before the Doubletree switch, There’s another $8 million planned for the future. Rooms don’t offer a lot of surprises, but they are well-equipped for the modern age and quite comfortable. There are only three major room categories: standard, executive level, and suite. Otherwise the price differences just come into play with how high up your are and what kind of view you have. Some have a sofa bed or are on a corner, with more windows.
Standards have one king or two queen beds and have ample room to move around, with a place to work on a laptop and some sitting area furniture. They have 55-inch TVs with channels in several languages, coffee maker, laptop-sized safe, and mini fridge. Executive rooms on the top floors get lounge privileges, a Nespresso machine, a more ergonomic work chair, robes, and slippers.
Most of the suites are two-room affairs that are double the size of a standard room, with a full living room and two TVs. You’ll have to go for the Vice Presidential Suite (1,500 square feet) or the Presidential Suite (1,700 square feet) if you want a bathtub though: all the other rooms are shower-only.
There’s a 24-hour fitness center on site, a sauna, and a heated indoor pool with natural light that’s open all year. In the warm months there’s a bar on the extensive terrace outside this area, which looks right out at the several of the main stages during the Montreal International Jazz Festival. When that’s not going on, it’s a place to watch the city light change as the sun goes down and the building lights come on.
Since the Doubletree by Hilton Montreal has more than 500 rooms to fill, rates are quite reasonable when there’s not a convention, Place des Artes concert, or festival going on. Rooms start at $140 on winter weekends and often the suites are going for $300 or less (before 18.5% taxes). See the Hilton website for deals–especially if you belong to their loyalty program–or check rates online at Expedia.
Editor Tim Leffel was hosted at the then-Hyatt, now Doubletree Montreal while covering the International Festival of Jazz for another travel publication.