Old Montreal’s Hotel Nelligan was the Traveller’s Choice 2009 award winner, and for good reason. This luxury hotel envelops you in old world European charm from the moment you step inside its front doors. The stone and brick walls (much of which is original structure from circa 1850) are engraved with verses from Émile Nelligan, one of Quebec’s greatest poets—a romantic legend.
The lobby features a cozy entranceway with a sitting area that gives the impression of stepping into the den of a French Villa. Upon the coffee table rests a bowl piled high with fresh green apples around an array of inviting seating such as individual upholstered chairs and warm leather couches. The spot is perfect for sharing conversation about the events of the day over a drink from the bar or reading by the fireplace. The concierges and staff are extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient. The moment people walk in, they are made to feel at home.
To the left of the lobby is the renowned Verses restaurant, featuring contemporary French cuisine. During the warmer months, guests may also head to the rooftop Verses Sky Bar to enjoy a light dinner or drinks while overlooking the Old Port. Just down the stairs to the right of the lobby, you enter a restaurant with a somewhat different feel: the Méchant Boeuf Bar-Brasserie. This charming restaurant features hearty meat specialties inspired by French cuisine (it’s thought by many to have the best burger in town), but also gives a nod to British pub food as well. Relaxed yet trendy, this chic pub (which is open to the public in the evenings and for private functions during the day) has multiple menus to suit your needs: à la carte menu, including the famous Méchant burger with bacon, Gruyère and Blue Bénédictin cheeses, and caramelized onions (and vegetarians are not forgotten with a gourmet meatless burger available featuring avocado pure and mango chutney); the Happening Gourmand table d’hôte menu set at $22 (January); a group menu to ranges in price from $23-$49; a late-night menu featuring lighter snacks and entrées; and their famous seafood raw bar menu featuring such offerings as smoked oysters with Guinness and mushroom oil. Together with their wide selection of beer and cocktails, and with classic rock playing in the background (live music Tuesdays and Wednesdays), there is truly something for everyone.
Next to the Méchant Boeuf, there is a beautifully intimate main reception room that holds up to 274 people, but can be divided in three for smaller groups. With the Nelligan theme of stone walls with brick and natural light streaming in for a warm, festive atmosphere, it is the perfect site for small and medium receptions.
The hotel itself underwent an expansion in 2007 bringing it from 63 to 105 rooms. The architects preserved the brick and stone theme, keeping original portions throughout. When heading from the old to the new section, one passes through a delightful breakfast atrium with high faux balconies where guests are served a welcome breakfast and cocktail. The hotel has five floors with three meeting rooms for business functions, one of which is a permanent board room. In walking from section to section and room to room, we had the impression that we were walking through halls of a private home; the word “private” being the key word. There were no screaming groups of people, though the hotel was at capacity. In fact, it was as if everywhere we walked, it was our own private section.
The junior loft suite in the original section opened to a cozy wood and wrought iron king-size bed with a fireplace and ample-sized desk. The room featured high-speed and wireless Internet access, a CD player, and a bathroom with a double Jacuzzi and glass shower. The bath amenities are created specifically for the Hotel Nelligan by Essential Elements for Rainspa. Standard rooms in the new section also include a flat screen television. The penthouses are either one or two rooms and have sweeping views of the Old Port, which may be viewed from the rooms’ private rooftop terraces, and include a full kitchen with granite counters, a large dining table and fireplace. Comfortable furniture atop dark wood floors and walls with contemporary artwork make this the perfect place to relax after a long day of shopping or working. Many of the furnishings have also been designed for the Hotel Nelligan by a renowned Quebec furniture maker to add to that old style charm seen throughout the hotel.
For fitness buffs, in case pounding the pavement through the Old Port wasn’t enough of a workout, the hotel has a discreet gym with all the necessary equipment (free weights, treadmill, flat screen TV) to fit in a workout.
The idea was to give travelers and business people a home away from home. The Hotel Nelligan has surpassed this goal in warmth and style.