On the road again…The Wolk Morais designers are back with more travel adventures from around the world. In their latest Wolk Morais Diary, Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, take us along with them to Montréal, Canada. If you’ve ever wanted to know the chicest way to experience the largest city in Canada’s Québec province, they have you covered and beyond. Read on for the ultimate way to take on Montréal!
Montréal de Luxe
Anxiously anticipating a high-octane jolt of glamour, culture, and Gallic decadence, we packed our finest threads and headed north to visit Manhattan’s fabulous French sister Montréal. Just a 6 hour drive, or a 30 Minute flight, this bustling metropolis is the perfect autumnal antidote to the humdrum of post fashion week blues. Claude’s hometown has always been our go-to getaway, but much has changed since our last sojourn. We felt compelled to investigate the latest and chicest in our first installment of The Wolk Morais Diaries – Québec Edition.
The Perfect pied-à-terre
Montréal is home to the very first Ritz-Carlton in the world. Opened on New Years Eve in 1912, the hotel has played host to both aristocracy and glitterati. From the Queen of England to the Rolling Stones, everyone who is anyone has paraded through the gloriously gilded marble lobby. Speaking of queens, Dame Elizabeth Taylor tied the knot with Sir Richard Burton (for the first time) in the Royal Suite of the hotel in 1964. The hotel is a veritable playground of luxuriant elegance.
Our sumptuous suite did not disappoint. A roaring fireplace set the tone for the impeccable accommodations. Every design detail of our suite was meticulously handcrafted for ultimate indulgence including a marble bathroom with a soaking tub and separate shower, opulent Italian silk curtains, and a state of the art lighting system with settings for every mood. Not to mention the most seductively comfortable bed and pillow menu that would satisfy even the most discerning sleep aficionado.
Tea Time at the Ritz Carlton Montréal is a time honored tradition. The Palm Court is where Montréal society has held court for nearly a century. Betwixt exotic palms, and beneath crystal chandeliers and a hand painted ceiling, tea sandwiches, pastries and scones are poetically presented on tiered trays in a way that would even make Lady Chatterley blush. In the evenings the space is transformed into the toniest lounge in town where an inexhaustible reservoir of Dom Pérignon flows freely amongst the effervescent crowd.
When in Québec do as the Québécois do; and there is nothing more Canadian than maple syrup and gorgeous skin. At The St. James the Montréal Maple Sugar Experience manages to capture the essence of the province in one unforgettable beauty treatment. An intense and invigorating exfoliation with organic maple sugar is followed by a hydrating clay wrap.
The result is baby soft delicious skin. In addition to this signature treatment, the incredible 6,000 Square foot spa, replete with fountains and fireplaces is one of Montréal’s most luxurious and best-kept secrets! Don’t miss it.
Visiting Alain Simon’s floral atelier is as compelling as visiting a brilliant painter’s studio. His grasp of composition, color and texture is truly that of a great master. With a client book that includes the who’s who of Montréal social circuit, this gem of boutique is a sensory experience that one will never cease to forget.
Paris in Montréal
There are restaurants and there are dining institutions. Maison Boulud is the latter. The clink of champagne glasses was a welcome score as we promenaded to our table through the elegantly attired dining room. The legendary chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud managed to capture the elegance of Paris with the freshness of Montréal in every detail of the restaurant from the decor to the locally sourced ingredients on the menu. Overlooking the elegant courtyard and a flock of impeccably groomed ducks in the koi pond we began our meal with a surprise amuse-bouche of deep fried escargot, followed by oysters, foie gras, and flounder ceviche. We were guided by the masterful sommelier to pick out the perfect Bordeaux for our main course of Halibut with Champagne grapes, and Kamousaka lamb served two ways. Executive Chef Romain Cagnat made sure every aspect of our meal was executed flawlessly from the Komodo cocktails to the perfect madeleine.
From Old to Nouveau, Vintage to Designer, Montréal is a treasure trove of tantalizing shopping. The new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, located just a block from the Ritz Carlton is a shoppers paradise. From Gucci to Golden Goose this store has it all. For those of you who prefer to upcycle, there is no place better to thrift than the Mile End Neighborhood of Montréal. For high-end vintage including an impressive selection of light used Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada Bags be sure to check out Ruse. Is Fragrance is your fancy follow you nose to Etiket, with orgasmic olfactory selections covering every perfume you can possibly imagine.
Prêt à Manger
When in need for a chic bite between boutiques, the Miles End neighborhood offers a wide array of diverse culinary offerings. Larry’s is the diner du jour for the local hipsters. Gastronomic grilled cheese and beautiful Bánh mì are some of the reinvented classics served in a cheerful setting replete with compelling people watching.
For the gnocchi of a lifetime don’t leave town without trying out Drogheria Fine. This storefront to-go business has the locals lining up for pasta with a punch! Served in large classic Chinese to-go cartons, the handmade gnocchi and salvatious nonna red sauce (the only 2 things on the menu) gives great bang for only 5 bucks; extra cheese is a dollar more, but well worth the splurge! If you need something refreshing to wash it all down, head a half a block to Atighs and try the signature hibiscus drink, a delightful and organic Mauritanian beverage that is not only delicious but healthy as well.
Montréal is a city of immense and historic culture. At the center of French theatre in North America is Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. The groundbreaking company that was formed in 1951 presents a seasonal repertoire that boasts the most accomplished stage actors in Québec. While visiting the theatre one must have a cocktail or nibble at Le Cafe Du Nouveau Monde designed by iconic Québécoise architect Luc Laporte.
For an art immersion head to the Belgo Building. The six story deco édifice was originally constructed as a luxury department store during the 1920’s, served as a garment industry hub through the 70’s and now houses the largest concentration of Canadian art galleries in one building. One can easily spend the day wandering the corridors making serendipitous creative discoveries.
Last but not least, no fashion folk should be allowed to leave the city walls without spending a significant amount of time at the world largest and ongoing Barbie Expo at Les-Cours-Mont-Royal. From Babs to Beyoncé, Dior to Givenchy, this 5,000-square-foot free exhibition is a grand tour of the fashion’s industry’s favorite little lady.