The Perfect Winter Week-End Getaway

January 15, 2014

First of all, I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all of my readers! I hope 2014 will be packed with exciting projects and delicious meals of course ;) I usually try to go on a trip between Christmas and New Years because I hate making plans for the 31st but I’ve been so busy with contracts since I’ve gone freelance that I couldn’t afford to leave. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to plan a staycation (I totally stole the term from Eve Martel)!

Basically, I planned a week-end getaway like I would in any city to relax, eat well and shop but did all of it here in Montreal. I loved the idea to finally make the time to do things that I’ve been pushing back for months because I was too busy.

I almost never stay in hotels when I travel because I’d rather save the money and stay in Airbnbs so I get very excited when I do pick one! To find the perfect location, I used a few hotel search platforms and found that Trivago was the easiest tool to find what I needed. I refined my search by making sure I would stay in a 4 to 5-star hotel and that it had a swimming pool (!!!).

After finding my top 5 hotels, I head over to Yelp to read reviews and compare ratings. InterContinental Montreal was the clear winner for the price and location so after about 45min of hard labor, I booked my perfect week-end and waited impatiently for December 20th to arrive!

Here’s my week-end in pictures:

InterContinental Montreal - Room

I loved my room! I was on the 24th floor (in a 26 floors building) and the view I had on the south of Montreal was beautiful. The bathroom was huge and it even included a map for runners which I would have definitely used if we were in the summer!

InterContinental Montreal - Room treats

The hotel was awesome and left those delicious branded mini cupcakes from Les Glaçeurs for my arrival!

Frankly, I was still recovering from an office holiday party just the night before so it was a pleasure to do nothing but watch movies and read the latest book of Game of Thrones in my huge king size bed.

Week-end - Breakfast

On Saturday morning, I woke up pretty early after a perfect night of sleep. It was a little before 8am so I decided to walk to Olives & Gourmando to grab a warm pastry and cappuccino to go. I was back in my room 15min later with The Globe and Mail that I easily found on my hotel floor on my return!

I was also happy to find the latest enRoute magazine in my room. It’s one of my favorite travel magazines even if it’s owned by a travel company.

InterContinental - The Pool

Around 10am, I decided to go check out the pool. I had the whole place to myself for about 30min which was just enough to get a few laps in and get back to my room to get ready for the day!

The hotel is located at the same corner of Le Palais des Congrès which gives direct access to the metro lines. After a 5min walk inside, I was on a train towards the Plateau for some shopping! I checked out a few of my favorites stores on St-Denis and Duluth for about an hour.

Le Bathroom - Salt Water Baths

At noon, I head over to Le Bathroom which is also on St-Denis for a one hour salt bath. It’s definitely something I like to do at least once a year to take the stress off my back!

MACM - Beat Nation

After my spa session and a little snack on the go, I headed to MACM at Place des Arts for Beat Nation. I really enjoyed the exhibition, especially all the video and sound media created for it.

Before leaving the area, I tried to check out the Luminotherapy at Quartier des Spectacles but it was sadly too early for the lights to really show. The installation will be there until February 2nd so there’s still time to catch it!


Handed with a huge chai latte from Starbucks (they always understand petit for venti…), I got back at the hotel after a 10min walk for some well deserved down time. I chose a movie on the tv and unpacked my new gifts!

Top (left to right): Cucumber candle found at Lolë, Prince Wladimir tea from Kusmi Tea Bottom (left to right): Chocolate bars and bites from Les Chocolats de Chloé, Korean cooking book found at Renaud-Bray, Wool sport socks found at Lolë


I started getting very hungry around 7pm (no more cupcakes!) so I considered ordering room service until I saw the prices… I chose to get dressed for the cold one more time and walked to La Popessa, about 5min away. For less than $10, I got back in my room with fresh lobster pasta! Yum.

Sarah B

An hour later, two friends of mine met me at the hotel lobby and we walked all the way to the water to check out the weekly winter fireworks. They lasted about 20min and we headed back to the hotel right after.

InterContinental Montreal has one of the coolest bars in town named Sarah B. This absinthe bar offers amazing cocktails and you can even order food from the restaurant next door Osco! and the prices are surprisingly low! Another cool thing about Sarah B is that there are two private rooms in the bar for a more private evening.

We got pretty comfortable and ended up closing the bar after a few cocktails and oysters! The fun part was that I was just an elevator ride away from my room :)

Bota Bota

On Sunday morning, my friend picked me at the lobby after I completed my checkout. I grabbed a snack to go at the Java U located in the hotel entrance and we made our way to Bota Bota. It was a very very cold morning so both outside jacuzzis were closed but we enjoyed the installations inside plus we ended up getting a reduced price when checking out.

Photo credits to

To complete this perfect week-end, we headed to Maison Christian Faure for brunch. For $18 (before service and taxes), you get a pastry of your choice, a beverage and a brunch plate as shown with either smoked salmon or ham.

So this pretty much completes my idea of a perfect winter week-end spent in Montreal! Even if I spent the week-end doing all the things I love, I was also happy to get back home on Sunday afternoon whichs proves that it really felt like a trip away. I’m hoping to repeat the experience again this winter as I don’t have any real trips planned before March.

What’s your idea of a perfect staycation?

Written by Sofia Shendi who lives and works in Montreal, as the CTO of Tastet. Join me on Twitter

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