Montreal has more of a European feel compared to other cities in Canada, mostly due to the strong French heritage. The diverse metropolis is located on an island containing an energetic downtown and a bustling old port area.
Trying to decide where to stay in Montreal? You should think about how you plan to spend your time.
It’s a large island city with many little neighbourhoods, each with its own style and variety of attractions.
Montreal is one of the best destinations in Canada for culture and the arts. Downtown Montreal contains a museum of fine arts and several historic sites while the commercial strips near the river offer unforgettable local cuisine.
Don’t know where to start looking? Search for the right accommodations for your trip with this guide to the best places to stay in Montreal.
Where to stay in Montreal: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods and areas for travellers
When visiting Montreal for the first time, downtown and the old port area are the most common choices. These parts of the city have the most attractions and things to do.
Historic churches, French colonial architecture, and a taste of Europe are a few of the top reasons to visit Montreal. You’ll find these in the central part of the city, but the outskirts have their own benefits.
Away from the busy downtown streets, you’ll discover parts of the city that most tourists overlook. The risqué red-light district and the sprawling underground network of tunnels give you a chance to see more of Montreal.
No matter where you stay, Montreal remains a charming city full of its own distinct flair. This modern cosmopolitan has many areas waiting for you to explore.
The best areas to stay in Montreal for travellers include:
- Downtown Montreal
- Old Montreal
- Quartier des Spectacles
- Underground City
✔ Best area to stay in Montreal for shopping and dining
Downtown Montreal is the business hub of the city, full of towering skyscrapers and busy commercial plazas. It tends to attract first-time visitors, business travellers, and shoppers.
Some of the streets are lined with high-end shops and designer boutiques selling big name brands. Several of the biggest shopping centres are connected via an underground network of tunnels, an entire neighbourhood itself.
The downtown area also offers some of the top things to see & do in Montreal. Climb to the top of Place Ville-Marie for panoramic views of the city or tour the gothic-revival architecture of the historic churches.
As one of the most-visited areas of the city, downtown Montreal attracts top restauranteurs. This area contains numerous Michelin-rated restaurants, offering all types of international cuisine.
Downtown Montreal is also centrally located. Most of the other boroughs surround the downtown area, making it a convenient base of operations for your trip.
Overall, downtown remains the most diverse part of the city and the most modern. It has less of the European style found in the older neighbourhoods, while giving you more upscale shopping and fine dining.
Recommended hotels in Downtown Montreal
The downtown area has the greatest selection of hotels in the city. It’s also home to most of the city’s five-star hotels and budget business hotels. Just keep in mind that these locations tend to fill up first during peak tourist seasons.
- Auberge Les Bons Matins: A five-star hotel with bright, vibrant décor, fireplaces, and other unique touches, you’ll feel as if you’re staying in a European villa. It’s an elegant place to stay and located right next to the Metro for your convenience.
- Courtyard by Marriott Montreal Downtown: This four-star hotel combines reasonable rates with a great location and comfortable rooms. You’ll also have a couple of reasons to avoid going out, thanks to the indoor rooftop pool and onsite restaurant with views of downtown Montreal.
- Hotel Ambrose: A three-star boutique hotel, this place is in the heart of downtown Montreal, on a quiet little side street next to a café. It’s also just a short walk from one of the entrances to the Underground City.
- Le Mount Stephen: As one of the highest-rated five-star hotels in the city, this place strives to deliver world-class service. The hotel is inside a 19th-century building, but the rooms appear completely modern, featuring contemporary décor and furniture.
✔ The most recommended area in Montreal for history and culture
Old Montreal is the historic district of the city, containing the oldest buildings and landmarks. It covers the area east of downtown and takes you up to the riverfront and old port area.
The cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and colonial architecture date back to the 17th century. It’s a little touristy, but the perfect spot to start your Montreal itinerary.
In the early morning, the Old Port of Montreal starts to come alive with dozens of cafes opening their doors and markets preparing to open. As the day wears on, it only grows more crowded, pushing tourists to the inner parts of the neighbourhood.
The blocks near the waterfront contain small little cobblestone streets lined with older buildings. Along these narrow streets, you’ll come across many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. It’s a quaint shopping experience compared to the high-end commercial strips in the downtown area.
Due to the location, you’ll also have the chance to easily visit some of the nearby neighbourhoods and boroughs, including downtown. During the day, check out the art deco Atwater Market in Little Burgundy. In the evening, explore the numerous clubs in the Gay Village or the Latin Quarter.
Recommended hotels in Old Montreal
Most of the hotels in Old Montreal provide top-notch service, as they need to compete for visitors near the riverfront. No matter where you stay, you’ll encounter friendly staff that is always ready to help.
- W Montreal Hotel: Located in Victoria Square, this modern four-star hotel has one of the best locations and rooms with views of the public square. It’s also one of the priciest options. You’ll pay a premium price to stay a short walk from Notre-Dame Basilica and the World Trade Centre Montreal.
- Hotel Epik Montreal: Housed inside a historic building, this highly rated boutique hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Old Port, giving you access to some of the best restaurants in the city. It also has its own coffee shop, to help fuel your trip.
- Hotel Nelligan: This four-star hotel is just around the corner from the basilica and Pointe-a-Calliere Museum. History lovers should love this location while foodies should enjoy staying near the eateries on the waterfront.
Quartier des Spectacles
✔ Top neighbourhood to stay in Montreal for art lovers and taking in local festivities
Located in the Ville-Marie borough, Quartier des Spectacles is the cultural centre of the city. It’s home to some of the city’s top theatres, galleries, and cinemas. It also encompasses the Latin Quarter, known for its eclectic style and casual bars.
This area tends to feel like a party all year round. You’ll find various outdoor festivals and events throughout the year. Some festivities take over multiple streets during the daytime while others remain contained in the neighbourhood’s multiple performance halls.
If you’re looking for outdoor entertainment, walk to Place des Festivals. The large public square hosts numerous outdoor festivals throughout the year. You can even discover outdoor art exhibitions.
You’ll also find a few events indoors. Quartier des Spectacles only covers an area of about one-square kilometre, but has almost 30 different performance halls.
Considered the entertainment district of Montreal, Quartier des Spectacles also contains the area formerly known as the red-light district. In the past, this part of the city contained streets lined with strip clubs and corners lined with street workers. As with many red-light districts, it’s safer and cleaner today.
Recommended hotels in Quartier des Spectacles
As with the neighbourhood itself, the selection of accommodations is diverse. You’ll find hotels to suit any style and budget, including numerous two-star hotels and a few three-star and four-star options near the outskirts of the district.
- Le Relais Lyonnais: Located near the library in the Latin Quarter, this three-star hotel aims to please, with friendly staff that brings fresh breakfast in the morning and help with directions. It’s a charming little boutique with its own onsite restaurant.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal: As one of the four-star hotels in this quarter, this location delivers world-class service and some of the best views of the city. The rooms also feature sleek, modern décor, adding more class to the hotel.
- Best Western Plus Hotel Montreal: For budget-conscious travellers, this hotel has great rates and comfortable beds. It’s not the fanciest location, but you’re located in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles and within walking distance of most of the sites.
- Loft Hotel Montreal: Housed inside an art deco building, this unique boutique-style hotel offers modern furniture and a fully equipped kitchen for when you don’t want to venture outdoors. The rooms are also incredibly spacious, some with views of the city.
✔ Best area to stay in Montreal for convenient shopping and entertainment
Staying in the Underground City, you never need to set foot outdoors. It’s a network of tunnels and subsurface complexes under the centre of downtown Montreal.
Over the years, Underground City has grown to include more shops, hotels, and restaurants. While a few of the passageways remain desolate, most of the underground area is heavily commercialized.
It now has at least a dozen hotels and hundreds of restaurants and stores. In fact, the entire network now connects over 1,600 establishments.
It’s almost entirely underground, but a few of the connections remain above ground. When travelling between some of the buildings, you’ll walk through a few ground-level tunnels and even one sky bridge. This makes it an “indoor city,” instead of a true underground city.
The main entrances to Underground City are found throughout the downtown area. You’ll also find over 120 exterior access points and about 60 Metro station entrances. From the Underground City, you can reach almost any part of Montreal.
This is an especially useful place to stay during the freezing Montreal winters. Instead of braving the cold weather, you can travel through various tunnels.
Recommended hotels in Underground City
Some of the best hotels in Montreal connect to the Underground City. While these hotels aren’t below ground, they have access points that allow you to reach the underground network. If you love to shop, you’ll enjoy staying at any of these locations.
- Le Dauphin Montreal Centre-Ville: Just a four-minute walk from Bonaventure Station, staying at this hotel ensures you can quickly cover more of the city. It’s a great location with friendly staff that caters to your every need.
- Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel: Located in the centre of the city, just steps from the Place Ville-Marie, this hotel is always packed. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and stylish. The hotel also has its own rooftop bar, when you want a nightcap after a long day of sightseeing.
- Hotel Monville: As you can tell from the sleek, modern décor, this hotel caters to business travellers. It’s a convenient location, located near the Museum of Contemporary Art, and features its own onsite bar. Some of the rooms also have views of the downtown area.
- Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth: This luxurious five-star hotel has direct access to the Underground City. It’s also part of history, as the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace in 1969. Today, guests can enjoy drinks from the onsite bar or convenient access to nearby metro stations.