On this adventure I was given the opportunity to travel to Montreal for work. Truth be told, I was suppose to visit in late summer, but financial woes got the best of me. So to now be able to visit on my company’s dime, covering flight and accommodations, with a daily food and drink allowance of $100 was a dream. And I would visit in December so would be able to see how Eastern Canada does Christmas. I would push aside my fear of driving in the snow and equip myself with proper cold weather gear, reassuring my anxious mind that this would be an experience worth endeavouring on.
The shift was not glamourous, hard labour at graveyard hour, up to 9 hours a day, but I was determined to make the best of it. Weeks before I would workout religiously and dedicate sessions to building up my muscle strength and core to be able to handle anything the shift threw at me. Little did I know I would end up getting planters fasciitis on my right foot and that it would put a damper on not only my ability to work, but sight see as well. But I digress, that is another story for another post.
The flight was with Air Canada with a stop in Toronto. We made sure to arrive early as our first venture on a plane post pandemic regulations. Given that this would be a 6 hour journey we were sure to load up with easy travelling snacks from YVR airport. A pizza and a cold cut sandwich, some fresh fruit and a hot tea to get us through the travel portion of our flight, followed by the pickup of our rental vehicle and drive to the hotel to settle.
I booked with Enterprise requesting a sturdy SUV to get me through any potential snow. And was thrilled to see the 2022 Mercedes GLC300 waiting for me. I will be completing a separate post for the car review, coupled with the experience of driving in Montreal for the season.
Next stop was our accommodations to check in. Given that the work was for an entire week, I opted for a hotel with more amenities, something that would be comfortable for an extended stay. And I was right in choosing Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Located right in the hub of Old Montreal, the hotel was 30 minutes from my work, but more importantly by majority of our sightseeing plans. It would be easy and within walking distance and parking was accessible and available underground.
Check-in was a breeze and I was ecstatic by how much more impressive the suite was in person. This was not a hotel room, but living accommodations.
A fully furnished living room with pull out couch for an additional bed, a single person sofa, furnished office desk, and coffee table. It was just odd that the television was positioned by the kitchen with no room for the couch before it. Just as well as we would not turn it on for the duration of the trip, relying on our laptop for entertainment instead.
With a pull of a rolling door you could enter the bedroom through the living room, rolling it back for privacy after. A large king size bed with plenty of hotel quality sheets and pillows to sprawl across.
And dark out blinds that kept the light out, which was necessary given my graveyard shifts that had me sleeping in the bright of day. Not to mention the view from these windows were of the adjacent buildings and often staffed with employees that had a direct view into the suite.
The kitchen came with granite counter tops, a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, dish washer, and plates and utensils upon request. Basically, everything I needed to reheat and enjoy take out, but no oven or stove top to do any of my own cooking.
I was most excited walking into the washroom. It was spacious with heated floors. Aside from the standard vanity, toilet and shower stall there was a jacuzzi tub with massaging jets and underwater lights.
Sadly, we would only get to enjoy this once. The tub failed to start after that and we would need to phone the concierge to have a technician sent to repair it each time, but on each occasion, there would be a necessary wait for help. A hassle I was not prepared to engage in.
In the end I would use this as a regular tub to soak my weary feet that I wore down due to my work. This would be a linger accident that I would take home and carry back with me to Vancouver, long after my week’s stay. But I digress, once again that is a while other bitter story.
Overall I enjoyed my accommodations and appreciated having all the various sprawling options to relax and unwind in and on.
Our stay at Embassy Suites also came with food and drink vouchers for their in-house restaurant located at the lobby. A full sit-down restaurant with bar.
The first set of vouchers entitled each guest to complimentary breakfast for every day that they stay with the Hilton. A fully stocked breakfast buffet that was a terrific deal and a generous service. Sadly I was only able to take advantage of this once. My graveyard shift either ran pass the allotted time or by the time I came back to the hotel I was either too tired or did not have an appetite for what would be my dinner before bed.
It was not until my last day in Montreal, did I take advantage of the spread. A self-help selection that included bagels and bread with the option to toast and spread. The condiment selection included butter, cream cheese, and jams. There as cereal from a dispenser with various types of milks, a small selection of pastries, and the standard scrambled eggs, potato hash browns, sausage, and crispy bacon assembly.
I would pile my plate high and sneak it back to my suite to enjoy in peace. Not gourmet by any means, but based on the variety and quantity, it definitely hit the spot, especially after the last long gruelling shift.
The other complementary vouchers that the hotel provided was for happy hour. Two drink tickets per guest, per day stayed. This we would make sure to take advantage of daily.
You had your choice or white or red wine and/or beer. Plus, a help yourself section of snacks that includes veggies & dip and chips & salsa.
To get the whole Embassy Suites experience we also had dinner at said in-house restaurant. This was less satisfactory, but it was our first night in town and we were too tired from the travel to pick and choose. The food was basic and dull. Nothing about it stood out and was more to fill.
This would be our first poutine in Montreal. Classically done french fries topped with fresh cheese curds. You stirred up to melt in all the salty cheese.
The Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich was thin slices of beef in a bun that reminded me of a fajita thanks to the overbearing sweet peppers. Sliced steak with sautéed peppers, mushrooms, onion and melted cheese on a Kaiser roll. The filling was at least juicy, saucy, cheesy, and satisfying enough. I could have used a jus or dip like I thought there would be.
The Burger Deluxe was an 8oz beef patty dressed with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise and melted cheddar. There was nothing “deluxe” about this. I found the burger bland and in needed of more generous amounts of condiments. Some brightness and tang from a pickle on the side would have also helped as well.
The Pesto pasta was ironically our palate cleanser in between bun bites. You could choose your type of pasta and its sauce. Our penne pesto was prepared with garlic, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, onions, and feta cheese. The dish was slightly sweet and tasty without any meat. I would have liked more of the sun-dried tomatoes for balance.
The pastas were oddly served with your choice of small house salad or soup. I went with the latter most which was a Stracciatella on the day. This is an Italian egg drop soup with spinach. It reminded me of a clean chicken broth, warming you inside and out.
In short, I fully took advantage of my accommodations and can recommend anyone visiting Montreal to do the same. The hotel is central to much of Old Montreal and ideal for sightseeing, room itself was spacious and comforting, and here are plenty of perks like free bottled water. I just advise skipping a full meal at the restaurant. And in hindsight, I wish I asked to switch rooms to one with a working hot tub.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal
208 Rue Saint-Antoine O, Montréal, QC H2Y 0A6, Canada