Montreal is known for its European flair and Old World charm on a smaller scale. The Hotel Le St-James is an example of European finesse that can be experienced close to home.
A Junior Deluxe Suite at the Hotel Le St-James
A member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World, the St-James exudes classic style and luxury from the outside in. The 1870 building was once the Merchants Bank and its architecture has been completely restored.
Currently the only five-star hotel in Montreal, the St-James is in Old Montreal, in the business district, and is in walking distance to restaurants and shops. Many entertainers have graced the doorstep of this venerable establishment, particularly musical celebrities, such as Madonna, the Rolling Stones and U2, because the Bell Centre concert hall is in the vicinity.
General Manager Olivier Bottois spoke with Travel Agent about the St-James and told us that American clientele is coming back strongly because Canada is a better deal—and more convenient—than crossing an ocean. “People want the flavor of Europe,” he told us, “without going to Europe.”
The St-James’ standard rooms and 50 suites are all decorated with antiques and fine artwork. Beds are appointed with goose-down comforters and cotton piqué sheets from Frette and are attended to with evening turndown service. Amenities include a fully stocked minibar, toiletries from Molton & Brown, compli-mentary shoe-shine service, 24-hour room service, valet parking and an extensive wine collection.
Categories include 23 Rooms, 26 Junior Suites, three Heritage Collection Suites and five Executive Suites. The three most exclusive suites are the Royal, Presidential and Terrace Apartment Suites; there is only one of each. Stays in these suites come with complimentary airport pick-up and drop-off and special daily amenities, which can mean anything from fresh flowers in the room to a bottle of chilled Champagne. The suites range in price from $3,655 to $4,870 per night.
Families are welcome at Hotel St-James and its kids’ program includes a kids’ pantry, games in the room and holiday treats, such as green cookies for St. Patrick’s Day. Bottois stresses that it is a romantic hotel, and couples need not fear children running around the halls or making noise in the rooms—families with kids are “strategically placed” above the restaurant.
The XO Restaurant is a full-service establishment at the Montreal hotel
Speaking of which, the restaurant, XO Le Restaurant, is now located in what used to be the bank’s lobby. Guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, a cocktail hour (from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and dinner. For reservations, call 514-841-5000 or 866-841-3111. To view the menu, visit www.xolerestaurant.com.
Businesses booking space for meetings are cutting down on the number of people they send and “are looking for smaller hotels like ours,” Bottois says. Small groups are placed on separate floors. Guests will find the latest technology here, but it is unobtrusive. Security, too, is very high for a small hotel, Bottois points out, but, again, it is not “in your face.”
Service Without Sacrifice
Ultimately, what is drawing people to the St-James is its unwavering luxury. People are cautious about money, but the desire for luxury is still there, Bottois notes. The Hotel St-James is ensuring this by providing more without sacrificing the price. For example, they’ve added complimentary valet service. No other hotel in Montreal has done that because of legal reasons involving livery cab contracts. (The St-James has circumvented this problem simply by purchasing its own fleet, which consists of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Maybach 57S and a Bentley Continental GT.) Another example is the complimentary hot breakfast for guests staying in Junior Suites or higher. “We are small,” Bottois says, “and can maintain service without sacrificing everything.”
Bottois says that Hotel Le St-James is prepared to meet any guest’s needs. He told us of one occasion when a celebrity wanted a dance floor built in one of the suite’s bedrooms. This required technicians to come in and dismantle some of the furniture, but the guest got what he wanted.
On another occasion, an entertainer, who had an evening performance, was staying at the hotel while early-morning construction was going on nearby. While the hotel staff could not stop the construction, the concierge found a company that was able to insulate the entire floor from the outside with special material. The upshot is that the celebrity heard nothing from the outside world after that.
Peaceful and Private
The onsite spa is a small, yet elegant room that accommodates one person or couple at a time, making it a completely private experience. The atmosphere of the room, accented in brickwork, marble and candles, is understated and peaceful.
To arrange reservations at the hotel or spa or any special requests, Bottois says that travel agents can speak to any of the hotel’s six concierges, all of whom are Golden Key Concierges (the only ones in Montreal), meaning they have been highly trained and passed a special test. They are all cross-trained and everyone is capable of meeting anyone’s needs, according to Bottois. Bottois himself can be contacted at [email protected] or 514-841-3111.