Le Westin Montréal Opens
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I've been observing this project for years now. Skipping over the endless iterations of the architectural paperasse, I'll dive right into the basic parameters of the new hotel which are suprisingly hard to fish out from the somewhat pompous press release.
First things first - the hotel actually spans several buldings - most importantly, the old home of the Montreal Gazette (as highlighted by every piece of PR literature circulated for the opening) and the newly constructed 22-story tower on the site of what was, most recently, a parking lot. Whatever the advertising claims, only The Gazette building can be declared to have any historical significance and the vast majority of the hotel's 454 rooms and suites are *not* located in it.
The new corner building, by definition ineligible for any kind of "historic" status, is a 22-story St-Antoine Tower which contains about three quarters of the hotel's rooms in addition to a 160-space six-level underground parking garage, has been the subject of some architectural discussions among city guests and residents alike.
While this creation of Geiger and Huot Architects is unlikely to win any architectural awards, it's not terrible either. In an interview with The Gazette (who else?), Eric Huot admitted that the project was challenging (and, I imagine, quite frustrating) especially in that it involved connecting three surrounding buildings while preserving their façades. Two of those buildings (the late-19th century Montreal Star building on Rue St-Jacques and the mid-20th century Gazette building which underwent serious changes and grew 4 stories for the project) were originally constructed for newspapers and, since we're on the subject, the modern-day headquarters of La Presse, the city's largest francophone daily, are located on the same street only a couple of blocks east.
The developers decided to celebrate the obvious newspaper legacy by taking the metaphor afforded by it as far as common sense would allow and even beyond. So, pretty much everything in the hotel is named with a press-related name. Hungry? Try the menu at "Gazette", the hotel's "cuisine du terroir" restaurant! In the mood for a drink? Why, "Reporter", the hotel's bar, is right there, waiting to serve you all the martinis your highly confidential source is willing to imbibe. You get the idea - basically, stay at Le Westin and pretend to be a member of the dying breed.
For opinions on the hotel's services, I turned to my own confidential source - a Vancouver architect visiting the city for the 2009 Canada Green Building Council held right after the hotel's grand opening at the Palais des Congrès, a pen's throw away. The architect in question confirmed that without being amazing, the hotel is reasonably comfortable and stylish on the inside, but the renovations were far from finished when the first guests checked in, and he hated the experience of being woken up by the sound of a drill revving up just outside of his room. Let's hope that by the time you read this, his criticism won't be applicable.
Le Westin Montréal
270 rue St-Antoine Ouest
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 0A3
tel. (514) 380-3333
P.S. This hotel is awaiting its classification.
The hotel's street-level restaurant seen from the street.