Haute Hotel

St. Paul Hotel's blend of minimalist styling and comfort updates a stay in Montreal's old city.

Designed by Madrid-born designer Ana Borrallo and housed within the beige sandstone walls of a historical building in Old Montreal, the St. Paul is a boutique hotel with style to burn. Opened in 2001, it takes elements of Canada's natural landscape and infuses them into its contemporary decor. The effect, such as in the case of the lobby's “fire-lit ice” alabaster fireplace, can be striking. But where the St. Paul really stands out is in its relaxing vibe.

When my cab rolled up to the hotel's entrance, my style quotient wasn't exactly high (think wrinkled white dress shirt, a head of messy hair and a tacky green suit bag). But a bellboy–who reminded me of indie actor Jason Schwartzman–greeted me with such enthusiasm that my self-conscious thoughts quickly vanished. Stepping into the lobby, I noted the spacious layout, minimalist cream-coloured sofas and down-tempo electronica. The whole thing reminded me of a day lying on a small beach in Ibiza, Spain, where blissed-out clubbers (including myself) chilled to a DJ spinning records at a nearby bar. I floated over to the reception area to check in.

The red neon lights glowing above the doors in the darkened hallways made me think of a liberal section of Amsterdam. Does St. Paul also have a sinful side, I wondered? Turns out the suggestive colour has more to do with a “fire” theme than anything else. Other hallways in the building follow an “ice” theme and are lit with blue neon, but I liked my floor's sexy vibe.

My “earth” room boasted a brown-and-beige colour scheme, a low bed with a brown faux-fur throw and smooth hardwood floors, all giving the place an airy feel. I noticed complimentary Internet access and a business centre open 24 hours. Nice.

While leaving the hotel for a dinner date–now fully coiffed and far better dressed in a dark grey suit–I bumped into the bellboy who had helped me check in. He had learned my name, a thoughtful touch. At around 2 a.m., I returned to my room to slip between sheets that boast a thread count of 300 per inch. I usually have trouble sleeping in places other than my apartment. But the night I crashed at the St. Paul, I caught a solid eight hours.