Like most urbanites in this world, Montrealers will never be caught saying they are going to the suburbs. What’s the point, they say, when everything I could possibly need is located within a few kilometres from my flat? To be completely honest, I am one of those Montrealers. I shiver in horror at the thought of crossing the bridge to the unknown that is Laval or Longueuil, much more comfortable with the idea of walking the entire length of Mont-Royal Avenue rather than being stuck in my (inexistant) car.
Needless to say I was a bit skeptical when Alt Hotels invited me to their Dix30 branch in Brossard. But I was in dire need of a getaway and since traveling abroad wasn’t an option thanks to several family obligations over the holidays, I figured this was the next best thing to jetting off to an exotic location. And I wasn’t wrong. To my own astonishment, I genuinely enjoyed myself in the Montreal suburbs.
The 158-room ALT Hotel is one of the most eco-friendly establishments in the region, a feat that definitely appealed to my ecological side. Geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery system, thermal windows with low emission rates and central light switches in every room are but a few of the many innovative, green features of the hotel. Talk about a guilt-free getaway!
The hotel is located on the edge of the Dix30 complex, a spread out, open-air shopping mall that depicts precisely what Montrealers hate about the suburbs: dependency on cars. But once I was there, I realized that while not every shop is accessible by foot, a vast majority are within walking distance. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I would trade my local high street shopping for this, but I to come to grips with the fact that perhaps the suburbs are not nearly as bad as people would have me believe. Hell, I may even have enjoyed myself.
Do you think Montrealers will allow me back in the city if I say this out loud (or in this case, write it on the Internet for everyone to see?)
ALT Hotels – The Concept
ALT Hotels are part of the Germain Group, owners the more luxurious Germain Hotels, which I experienced earlier last year in Toronto. Basically a “lighter” version of Germain Hotels, ALT has a no-frills, no-nonsense approach to hospitality all while having top-notch design and modern facilities. No concierge, no valet, but incredibly trendy decor and welcoming staff: I like the idea of sophisticated simplicity.
The common areas are cheery, spacious and quite refreshing, especially in contrast to the raging snow/ice storm that was stranding me indoors at the time. All the more reasons to explore the hotel and take advantage of the plump pillows, I thought.
One of the most fun features is the strong presence of art everywhere in the hotel. Every wall facing the elevators, as well as the meeting rooms on the top floor, feature a massive street-art like creation, courtesy of local artist celebrity Arpi. Each mural is unique and was created exclusively for the hotel, a nice reminder that even though the hotel is not in Montreal per se, it’s still very much in a urban habitat.
Alt Hotel Brossard – My Room
I really liked the way the room was designed. The disposition of the furniture goes against every other hotel design I’ve seen, in a daring yet functional way. No perfect symmetry, no anonymity. This room has character and isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd, for the enjoyment of travelers with a keen interest in interior design and aesthetics. The presence of black, dark wood and cement gave a masculine allure to the room while the touches of bright colors were a nice reminder of the kaleidoscopic ground floor. Decor-wise, this room hit all the right notes.
The Italian-designed chair was an instant hit with my traveling partner. Completely customizable, the chair’s panels can be folded up or flattened to the guest’s desires, and make for a enviable place to read while watching over the action in the shopping mall below, or a great sunrise watching spot for the early risers.
I particularly liked the organic, locally-made bathroom products Fruits & Passion in the bathroom, as well as the powerful hair dryer, in-room Keurig machine, Egyptian cotton bedding, plush towels and the heated ceramic floors. These are small attentions that prove how sensible the hotel is to its guest’s comfort and entertainment (which, of course, can be achieved via cable TV and free WiFi).
I have to be honest here and say that while it all sounds good on paper, my stay didn’t exactly roll out as I’d planned. I mentioned the raging ice storm earlier… With the laws of physics being what they are, my 8th-floor room windows were nowhere near thick enough to soundproof the storm. I am not one to be awaken easily (I have been known to sleep through a fire alarm) and yet I barely got any downtime.
I do not blame the hotel for this — there’s only so much a high-rise building can do against the wrath of Mother Nature and the insistence of snow plows in the gigantic parking lot below. But I would not recommend staying at ALT during a snowstorm. Not to mention that one of the biggest selling points of the hotel is its proximity to the popular SkySpa, and, well, there ain’t nothing enticing about an outdoor spa when Mother Nature is in full hail mode.
Perhaps I should give the ALT Hotel another try in the summer?
Despite the shut-eye issue, I am the first one to be surprised by my final impression of the area. I am a Montrealer at heart and never in my right mind would I trade hometowns, but going on a weekend getaway to Brossard was far more enjoyable that I’d initially imagined. I really needed to get out of the house for a day or two, and focus on trivial, hedonistic pleasures like eating, shopping and getting pampered at the (indoor part of the) spa. And ALT Hotel Brossard fit the bill in more ways than I can say.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of ALT Hotel. As always, all opinions are my own. Rates for a double room are $149 per night, every night of the year.