Montreal isn’t a city that is particularly renowned for its hotels and given that I was only in town for one night I wasn’t massively fussed about where I stayed.
My main concern was that it needed to be somewhere central and accessible for exploring the city on foot.
My first port of call when staying anywhere for a single night is to see what properties are available under deals via Amex FHR or similar Virtuoso deals. The addition of a $100 property credit, free breakfast and a guaranteed 4pm checkout can easily offset 50% of the cost of the room on a one night stay.
One property that immediately sprung to the top of the list was the W. I have rather mixed feelings about this brand. The original W in Times Square has a horrible reputation, the one in Leicester Square London is an absolute dive. Worst of all, this is a brand that charges close to luxury prices whilst offering far less in the way of service – something they make up for by branding themselves as ‘cool’, ‘edgy’ and ‘design focused’.
So far, so douche.
Conversely, the other FHR hotels were either way more expensive (The Ritz Carlton) or horribly old-fashioned looking (Hotel Le St-James). Part of me was tempted to just book any old place and be done with it but another part of me wanted a hotel experience to match the amazing flights in SWISS First! I’d never stayed at a W before and wanted to see if it really lived up to my preconceived notions.
At 280CAD per night under a Luxury Privileges rate I didn’t have a lot to lose. This is equivalent to around $220 a night with $100 of property credit, an upgrade, free breakfast, two welcome cocktails and 4pm checkout. Even if you value the other extras at zero, the net cost after the dining credit comes to $120 for a one night stay!
As a surprise bonus I received an email a few weeks before check-in informing me that my stay was eligible for a suite upgrade at the absurdly low rate of $37.50 per night, in celebration of the 375th anniversary of Montreal’s founding. At this price I would have been crazy not to lock in a guaranteed suite upgrade 😁
I took an Uber from the very handily located Uber collection point at YUL airport and was at the hotel within 30 minutes. I was greeted at the curbside and welcomed to the property by a friendly doorman.
Check-in was performed at something resembling the ticket desk at a nightclub. The associate checking me in made no mention of my luxury privileges rate or any SPG status benefits. She initially handed me a voucher good for one continental breakfast but when I mentioned that my booking was made under a luxury privileges rate she instead handed me two vouchers good for 2 American breakfasts in the restaurant or via room service. I was also handed my two welcome cocktail vouchers 🥃🍸
The bathroom was well stocked with Bliss toiletries, a brand I’m not familiar with but seemed to be of a decent quality. However the layout felt really weird. I couldn’t imagine having a cosy bath in a fully open room, where the aircon means you’ll either have a too warm sleep or a too cold bath. Walls are there for a reason…
The bed was incredibly comfortable and that’s saying a lot given that my prior sleep had taken place on a $40,000 Hästens bed. I had never previously encountered a white noise machine but it actually worked really well too, you could set it to various types of noise including static, waves and whalesong and this in combination with the blackout blinds made for a fantastic sleep.
The gym is located underground, beneath the hotel and is well equipped for a hotel facility. There were no squat racks and only a single crossover station but there was enough here to keep you going for a few days without feeling like you’re completely missing out on training.
I was able to use my two free drinks vouchers for a couple of G&Ts at Bartini – a cosy little bar on the ground floor of the hotel, right near the lobby. There were no restrictions on drinks as far as I could tell. As long as you ordered something vaguely standard you were good to go.
It’s safe to say that the included American breakfasts are very generously proportioned. Indeed they could well be your only meal of the day and you’d still probably feel full by the time the next breakfast rolled around.
I had planned to use my $100 credit on lunch before checking out but instead decided to get a massage in the spa, since there was no way in hell I could eat lunch and then eat again on the flight home on SWISS First 777!
I came away from my first W experience pleasantly surprised in some ways. The doormen were excellent as were the room service and bar staff. They were universally friendly and proactive, really going out of their way to provide excellent service.
Both check-in and check-out were rather shambolic though, with staff not honouring booked benefits without prompting and erroneous charges appearing on my bill during check-out.
The decor in the public spaces had the trendy nightclub feel that I thought they would but the room was more understated and spacious than I had been expecting. The sleep quality was also undeniably great. The bed was very comfortable indeed and the blackout blinds and noise machine really contributed to a restful sleep as did the lack of noise from within the hotel or the street below.
For the price I paid this was an absolute steal. I would absolutely not hesitate to recommend this hotel and can’t think of any viable competitors at this price point for this level of comfort.