By Joanne Latimer
When Hotel Gault opened in 2002, its modern style, inside an 1871 building with French Second Empire flourishes, was bold and something of a novelty. These were the early days of the boutique-hotel craze that would grip Montreal over the following decade. Today, minimal is the new normal, making this Old Port hotel’s mixture of luxurious comfort and scaled-back design more prescient than perplexing.
With a limestone façade and soaring windows, the exterior of Hotel Gault looks plucked from Haussmann’s Paris. Inside, contemporary décor pervades. The lobby is dotted with colourful Bertonia Bird chairs, where guests eat croissants and check email. Children (while allowed) are scarce among the Prada-clad guests—most of whom could probably identify the room’s eye-catching yellow couch as an Edra classic.
There are hints of the building’s original incarnation as a 19th-century textile warehouse, but even these have been modernized. The cast-iron Corinthian columns, for example, are now painted white and soar five stories above the lobby.
Upstairs, the 30 light-filled rooms—with views of the harbour or neighbouring Vieux-Montreal buildings—have modern teak built-in desks, Tolomeo lamps and—softening things up—upholstered beds topped with quilted, earth-tone duvets. The two top-floor apartments have outdoor patios (open in summer) and continue the minimal theme but with the addition of kitchens and up to twice as much space (700 to 1,000 square feet). Suites aren’t as vast, but they embody the same aesthetic: uncluttered, calm and chic.
Perhaps the best feature overall is heated concrete floors in all bathrooms—welcome during Montreal winters.
Room service is available, but most guests eat at the common table in the cafeteria-style café. Lunch and dinner menus change daily according to what the chef finds at the market, but the signature (and impressive) eggs Benedict are a stalwart. Guests lunching here recommend the tuna, but with the Old Port’s best restaurants steps from the front entrance, there is no shortage of options.