Planning A Weekend in Montreal

I had originally planned on going to Montreal for a bachelor party, on a long weekend. I booked my flight there with the guys, but hadn’t booked my return flight. A few days after I booked my flight, I found out that the budget the other guys had for the bachelor party was WAY above mine. It was too late to cancel my flight, so I decided to still go to Montreal but do my own thing (after clearing it with the groom-to-be, as I didn’t want to upset him). At first I was a bit disappointed, since they had one of the most awesome AirBnb houses I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. There was a big music festival and the Rogers Cup tennis tournament that same weekend so I knew I had to act quickly.

Searching for Hotels in Montreal

I looked on Hipmunk for hotels in downtown Montreal. I prefer Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG chain hotels as they’re the chains I have elite status with. Hyatt being at the bottom of the three, as I get the least amount of perks despite having status with them. I quickly noticed, in my search, that hotel prices were pretty far beyond what I was willing to spend at over $250/night. Quickly I realized that I should look for points/award availability. There were three hotels that I was interested in. It was all about location for me as I wanted to be close to Old Montreal and Metro stations.

The first one was the Hyatt Regency Montreal. It is located right outside Old Montreal. The hotel is a Category 2 which means that it would be only 8,000 points a night. The hotel was booked solid. I set up an alert at Wandering Aramean’s Travel Tools (WATT) so I wouldn’t have to look every day. Unfortunately, no rooms became available.

I also considered the Embassy Suites. The free evening reception would have been nice. It was completely sold out as well. I stopped looking at this hotel as it would have been 40,000 points per night which is pretty steep. Most Hilton points redemptions are pretty expensive but I knew I could find better redemptions in the chain.

The hotel I settled on chose to stay at was the Intercontinental Montreal. The room rates were way above $400/night. Luckily, I found award availability at only 45,000/night. This makes it an excellent redemption with IHG points. I happily booked it as Intercontinental Hotels are IHG’s most luxurious hotels.

Getting to Montreal

As I mentioned, I was on the same flight as all of the bachelor party guys. I flew Air Canada non-stop from LAX to Montreal at 7:30 AM. The flight was very pleasant, although one flight attendant was pretty rude. I think she was trying to be snarky but it didn’t come across that way. The flight was smooth enough that I managed to get some extra sleep and watch The Martian. I tried a buy-on-board breakfast sandwich for CA$5.50. The glorified “Egg McMuffin” was surprisingly good.

I arrived at Montreal Airport and breezed though Customs/Immigration with my prized Nexus card (I can’t say enough how much I love Nexus).  In case you don’t know, Nexus is similar to Global Entry, but it also allows for easy entry into Canada. It was a long walk from the plane and I got to the curb in about 4 minutes.

I looked on the Montreal-Pierre Trudeau Airport’s website to find the best way to get downtown – which I have found to be the best initial source of such information. Since I was traveling solo, I took the (appropriately named) 747 bus from the airport. It is $10 each way and takes roughly an hour to downtown. At the airport, there is also a kiosk where an $18 3-day pass good for unlimited travel on buses and the Metro. Since I was there for 48 hours (starting on a Thursday) and the 3-day pass is also good for the return bus ride, I opted for that.

Montreal Airport Bus Ticket Vending Machine
Montreal Airport Bus Ticket Vending Machine

InterContinental Montreal

The InterContinental Montreal is a short walk from the bus stop on Blvd. René-Levesque. I walked in and saw the Concierge desk with no indications of where Registration was. Perhaps the hotel expects people to valet park a car where the valet would tell them where to go, but arriving on foot was confusing. The Registration Desk is upstairs. To get upstairs, there are escalators just out of view around the corner from the Concierge Desk.

Check in was seamless. I was not asked about my welcome amenity but IHG is notoriously inconsistent with offering the welcome amenity to guests. I was told they upgraded me to a corner room on the 12th floor. As I walked into the room, I was surprised that there was a hallway. The size of the room was bigger than some suites at other hotels I have stayed at!

Desk in Intercontinental Montreal Corner Room
Desk and TV in Intercontinental Montreal

The room and bed was very comfortable. The TV, though, had issues. It would only turn off if I unplugged it. I told the front desk about this and was told that they would have maintenance look at it but they never did.

King Bed at Intercontinental Montreal
King Bed at Intercontinental Montreal

Leaving Montreal

After I scrapped my plans to join the bachelor party, I looked into other places to go after Montreal. I thought about going to Toronto but didn’t want to visit another big city. Quebec City came to mind, but I feel like it would be better to go during the winter season. Halifax & Nova Scotia seemed ideal and is a short non-stop flight from Montreal. Domestic flights in Canada are notoriously expensive, however, the flight seemed quite cheap at roughly $150. I wanted to spend the least amount of cash as possible and tried looking for United partner availability ( which meant flying on Air Canada) but there was no award space. I opted to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points as it was just over 13,000 points (at 1.25 points per cent) – only 500 points more than if I transferred to United to redeem for an award flight. It wasn’t a great redemption but I was willing to go with it.

I walked up to the bus stop to go back to the airport. A bus came and the driver yelled at me, in French, about bringing my carry-on size luggage. The man behind me managed argue himself onto the bus. It left me behind and I had to wait another 30 minutes for the next bus. What an amazing way to treat a tourist!

Feel free to share your similar experiences in the comments below!

Stay tuned to the next couple of posts where I’ll talk about sightseeing and food in Montreal.

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