by Kitty Bean Yancey
With a funky contemporary look — the exterior is Canadian concrete inlaid with pebbles — and rooftop gardens, it’s amazing to find out that this low-rise architectural marvel was constructed decades ago for the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair known as Expo 67.
Showing off the design that’s part of Montreal’s calling card, the hotel sits above the Underground City and features a caveman exterior, three floors of rooms with big windows that open and all the modern conveniences. Rooms for the disabled have strobe light alarms and the ability to open the doors from inside without having to turn a knob.
Some come just for the dramatic indoor/outdoor pool. Open all year and well heated in the winter, you can swim out from inside and paddle as snowflakes fall around you.
Adding to the exotic aura is 2.5 acres of Japanese-style gardens in the middle of the city, complete with waterfalls, a moat-like, mini-river, and a pond where ducks paddle.
Guests can walk to the shops on nearby Sainte-Catherine Street or down to the port and Old Montreal, where tourist attractions are clustered. They don’t even have to venture outdoors in inclement weather — the Hilton’s lobby is an elevator ride above the Bonaventure metro station.
Be warned that the 395-room hotel does a brisk meeting business on weekdays, but it still keeps kids in mind. Families staying in certain room categories can use the executive lounge, set up with kid-sized chairs and a game table to keep youngsters amused while their parents enjoy drinks and canapes. And there’s always that novel, all-weather pool as a diversion.
Our Editor Loves
- Rooms with direct pool access
- Gardens with ducks
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The property is virtually non-smoking, save for four rooms where puffing is allowed. Renovated accommodations in neutral tones (lots of beige and brown) have mahogany furniture, Hilton Serenity Beds with 250-thread-count sheets, high headboards, and bathrooms with granite counter tops and curved shower rods. Tubs are plentiful and great for bathing little ones.
All accommodations have a mini-fridge. Wi-Fi access is free throughout the property. Rollaway beds are available for $35 CAD per night, and are only allowed in the larger rooms. Cribs are available upon request, free of charge.
Children ages 18 and under stay free in a parent's room and connecting accommodations can be booked, though are not guaranteed. Digs with sofa beds and direct pool access are family favorites. A two-level suite with two sleeping areas and two bathrooms is available, though will cost a pretty penny.
Choose rooftop garden, city or pool views. Bonaventure standard furnishings include a clock radio with MP3 player, coffeemakers and 32-inch, flat-screen TVs. Rooms with king beds range in size from 300 to 489 square feet. Sofa beds are available in some king guestrooms, so be sure to specify at booking. King guestrooms sleep between two and four people.
Guestrooms with two double beds sleep up to four and are about 350 square feet in size. Garden, pool or city views are available, as are rooms with direct pool access.
At 294 square feet, guestrooms with one queen bed are the smallest and sleep only two people. Rooms with two queen beds are larger, at 391 square feet, and some are located near the pool, with direct access. The largest of the queen guestrooms offer 645 square feet of space, a large sitting area with a sofa bed, and two queen guestrooms, allowing for a total of six guests.
The Hilton Bonaventure offers two-level suites with garden views (with upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom, and downstairs sofa beds and second bathroom). A one-level suite with an open floor plan is also available with one king bed and a sofa bed.
Executive Floor Guestrooms
Families can book guestrooms with one king bed or two double beds on the Executive floor, which offers access to the Executive Lounge, with complimentary breakfast, newspapers and snacks. Alcohol is extra.
King Bed Accessible Room
Safety bars, wider doorways, roll-in showers, raised vanities and toilets meet the needs of those in wheelchairs. All of the 359-square-foot rooms can be booked with a connecting room and have strobe visual or hearing-impaired equipment.
by Louise B
We had 2 rooms, with 2 queens. We had 2 tweens and 8 yr old. Takes a while to figure out how hotel works as far as floors go, but got it. Ordered room service nachos, they were very good. Continental breakfast was included, it was as you expect for those kinds of breakfast, a few extra items such as fruit. We had 3 vegans with us, so brought our bread and almond milk, but they had almond milk. The outdoor pool was great, you swim out, water was at 30 degrees. The hot tub was same temp as pool, could of been hotter. The sauna was not working. It was -3 c with wind out, so was quite chilly when you got out. Good thing for the swim out. Lots of stairs to get to the pool area. Very nice lobby area. Great outdoor walkway with duck pond. Right across the street from train station. Would come back for sure
Although I was there on business, this would be a great place to stay on a personal trip to Montreal. The conference facility is convenient to the hotel which made the day go smoothly.
The food and bar area has delicious options and the service is consistently friendly and efficient.
Beautiful comfortable lounge and reception area is inviting and cozy with a view of their amazing year round outdoor pool area.
In warm weather, reserve one of the rooms that open to the pool and enjoy an outdoor patio. Parents can read or relax away from the crowd while keeping an eye on offspring. The pool, ranging in depth from 3 to 7 feet, is supervised by lifeguards and is open 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. year-round.
Stroll through the gardens and enjoy the calm surrounded in the middle of the city. Kids are invited, and delighted, to feed the hotel ducks.
Call down to the concierge and ask for a board game to play in your guestroom.
Families will like the easy metro access and the ability to explore Montreal's famed Underground City -- just take the elevator down from the lobby.
With the look of an upscale chalet, the hotel's main restaurant is open for all meals and has a kids' menu featuring the usual suspects -- spaghetti, burgers and such. Adults will appreciate French dishes cooked using local products. During the winter months, a fireplace warms the lounge. In fine weather, reserve a spot on the terrace overlooking the lush gardens and rippling stream. Le Castillon is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The lobby bar/bistro, more suited to older children, serves libations and light fare, including tapas, amid warm wood paneling. It's open daily from noon to midnight.
Open by the pool in the summer, generally from noon to 5 p.m., Bar Soleil serves simple fare from Le Belvedere, like burgers, sandwiches and such. Sometimes barbequed meats are available.
In-room dining is available daily from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Kitchenettes aren't offered, but the hotel has microwaves on each floor by ice machines to warm bottles or heat up a snack. Microwaves can also be delivered to rooms free of charge.
Tub Temperature Regulation
Safety-conscious parents will be relieved that the hotel has "scald-proof" tubs and showers that keep the water temperature bearable.
Pets are allowed, with a nonrefundable $50 CAD cleaning fee deposit. Pets may not be left alone in rooms. Maximum weight is 75 pounds.
Cribs and highchairs are complimentary -- just ask at the front desk.
Self and valet parking are available for $22 CAD and $29 CAD per night, respectively.
Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at noon.
The Art of Smart Timing
All facilities are open year-round, but lowest rates are generally found from January to April. High season runs May through October.
Montreal weather is notably changeable, so pack umbrellas and layers of clothing. Average daily temperatures are in the 20s in January and 70s in July, which is the hottest month.
Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is about 12 miles away, a 30-minute ride by cab. Cabs cost a flat rate of about $40 CAD. The 747 airport bus stop is within a 10-minute walk, and costs $10 CAD.
It's hard to find a more central location to reach attractions in downtown and Old Montreal. For starters, the Hilton is located on top of the Bonaventure metro station and across from Central Station for easy departure for day trips. Cabs are plentiful, but it's an easy walk to many of the top tourist attractions.
For Mom and Dad
When alone time is imperative, book an appointment at the onsite beauty salon or barbershop. In warm weather, try a de-stressing massage in the gardens. If working out is a priority, head to the 24-hour fitness center. Other options include strolling to nearby Sainte-Catherine Street for some retail therapy. Many mid-priced stores and chain outlets are located there. Or end an active day by sipping a cocktail in Le Belvedere bar and bistro.