“There all is order and beauty/Luxury, peace and pleasure” wrote Baudelaire, in his poem Invitation to the Voyage. He could easil y have been talking about the Hotel Le St-James.
Since 2002, celebrities and us mere mortals have made this Old Montreal hotel their favourite place to spend a night or more. The building itself used to be The Merchant Bank—a solid 19th-century establishment—making this a historic edifice in a historic neighbourhood, and giving us every reason to expect nothing but classic chic and elegance from the 14 rooms and 46 suites designed by Jacques Bouchard. Service is on a par with the environment: warm, attentive and impeccable.
Every item in the hotel seems to have been chosen with aesthetic integrity in mind, pleasing the eye wherever it lands. In fact, it took Karen and Lucien Rémillard three years to gather all the rare and antique pieces that, together, achieve a harmony of baroque luxury. Eighteenthcentury Russian armoires, Venetian chests of drawers and Riopelle paintings are combined to perfection. In fact, all the artwork on display is part of the Rémillard family private collection. On a more ephemeral level, stunning floral arrangements add colour and grace.
Such a lavish treat for aesthetes! Epicures, too, will be delighted at XO Le Restaurant, where executive chef, Julien Robillard, and souschef, Mike Hamilton-Piercy, have created dishes that highlight fresh, local products, in a menu that changes with the seasons. Diners can go à la carte, or choose from a six-course tasting menu inspired by revisited French cuisine. Located in what used to be the Bankers Hall, the restaurant includes a dining room, two mezzanines and a bar/lounge, essentially elevating the space from bank to banquet. Sommelier, Martin Lefebvre, has put together an impressive wine list, and the custom-built cellar contains some great vintages to ensure the perfect wine-food pairings.
Downstairs, in the old bank vault, is the hotel spa, which provides a full range of health and beauty services in an environment consistent with the style above. Silence reigns supreme here, as relaxation is the goal: hydrotherapy, massage and select treatments are designed to pamper and de-stress. Exfoliation, green coffee wraps clay and caviar masks… they sound as delicious as they feel. And finally, when the day draws to a close, the happy traveller is eager to slip between the luxurious cotton sheets…