The Frisky Guidebook: Sin City North
Only a few hours away from both New York City and Boston, there are always plenty of Americans visiting Montreal for its reputation as Canada’s Sin City, as well as for its fab European influence. With strip clubs and sex shops galore—not to mention the gay-friendly vibe, drag queens, French food, and beer with higher alcohol content—Montreal can easily intoxicate your senses. Here are some of our suggestions for a weekend jaunt to La Belle Ville.
While Mount Royal may not actually qualify as a mountain at only 234 meters (the technical cut-off being 305 meters), this highest point for which Montreal is named is a great place to see the sights. Offering great views of the city, along with an enormous iron cross, the mountain is a fantastic place to wander off the beaten path for an outdoor make-out session. You’ll also find plenty of other engaging activities, like tobogganing and ice skating in winter or hiking, biking and sunbathing in the summer.
115 St-Catherine East
(514) 525-7566, Mado.qc.ca
Where else in the world will you find the term “main drag” taken so literally? Montreal’s top drag queen, Mado Lamotte, performs nightly at Cabaret Mado in a 1920s-era revue, featuring some of the city’s sexiest drag kings and queens. Dress to kill, and bring both a sense of humor and a pure laine Quebecois to translate Mado’s effervescent bilingual puns.
|Resto-Bar Les Princesses
(514) 255-0003, LesPrincesses.com
If you’re feeling frisky, you’ll want to check out Resto-Bar Les Princesses for its “sexy breakfast.” Since brunch is the quintessential Montreal meal, and sex isn’t much of a taboo here, it only makes sense that some enterprising locals thought of combining the two. Topless waitresses serve up inexpensive breakfasts starting at 5 a.m. So if you’re still up partying, pop in for some sunny sides up.
|Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
900 René-Lévesque West
(866) 540-4483, Fairmont.com
The site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s infamous Bed-In, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is both elegant and sexy. The hotel’s restaurant, The Beaver Club, shows off Canadian pride and a frisky side. Stay in John and Yoko’s suite to “Give Peace a Chance” and record some love tunes of your own.
106 St-Paul West
(877) 788-2040, HotelNelligan.com
The Hotel Nelligan is one of Montreal’s many gorgeous boutique hotels. Located in the Old Port, the combination of original architecture and modern style is sure to charm you. Great views of the St. Lawrence River from their rooftop lounge make this a great place to grab a drink in the evenings. Or, take tea in their garden atrium any afternoon.
|Petite Auberge Les Bons Matins
(800) 588-5280, BonsMatins.com
A cute and cozy townhouse B&B right in the heart of downtown, Petite Auberge Les Bons Matins will make your stay both comfortable and stylish with their colorfully decorated rooms and suites. Included with your stay, their Gargantuan Breakfast with homemade bread and tons of made-to-order options is a breakfast lover’s dream come true.
To experience the uniquely Montreal joie de vivre, check out Kafeïn with its laid-back lounge and intimate café. Upstairs you’ll find hipsters talking music and art over homemade sandwiches and students studying with hot cups of coffee; downstairs, grab a cocktail at the bar or lounge on one of the couches with a shisha (flavored tobacco smoked through a hookah). Wake up or come down in this fabulous, friendly neighborhood favorite.
Offering cheap drinks, free popcorn, and a foosball table in the back, Le Bifteck isn’t exactly the grandest bar in Montreal, but it’s certainly got the most personality. This dive bar has launched the artistic careers of dozens of musicians, including hometown girl Melissa Auf der Maur, who once DJ’d here. With a mix of hipsters, old-timers and out-of-towners, this laid-back bar is a great place to meet up-and-coming bands on their nights off, or just chill with a pitcher and friends.
(514) 871-8066, CleopatraMontreal.com
The home of Montreal’s infamous burlesque troupe, the Dead Doll Dancers, Café Cleopatra hosts some of the sexiest shows in town. From their regular fetish nights to a variety of Club Sin events on the second floor (plus the talented erotic dancers downstairs), there’s plenty to keep you entertained the whole night through.
|ROMANTIC DINNER A DEUX|
|Au Pied de Cochon
536 East Duluth
(514) 281-1114, RestaurantAuPiedDeCochon.com
Perhaps best known as the only restaurant in Montreal with the Anthony Bourdain seal of approval, this busy bistro serves up Quebecois staples with class. Try their Foie Gras Poutine for an upscale version of a greasy-spoon favorite, or the Duck in a Can for an Au Pied de Cochon original. Beginning in March 2009, you can check out their new all-you-can-drink brunches, sponsored by local brewery McAuslan.
250 des Pins East
(514) 287-9127, Laloux.com
Montreal boasts so many excellent French restaurants, it can often be difficult to choose! Restaurant Laloux is a great place for an intimate evening, boasting traditional six-course French meals with subtle Asian influences. Add to that an extensive wine list and sinfully delicious desserts and you’ve got a fantastic meal at one of Canada’s top restaurants.
No trip to Montreal would be complete without the nightly post-bar lineup at Boustan. After the bars close at 3 a.m., you’ll find “Mr. Boustan” (owner Imad Smaidi) serving up lovingly made cheap eats to students and party-goers alike. You’ve got to try the veggie pita—filled with unusual pita ingredients like grilled eggplant, potatoes and even an omelet—even if you’re a die-hard meat eater. As Mr. Boustan says, “You don’t like, you don’t pay!”
1307 St-Catherine West
(514) 842-7711, OgilvyCanada.com
Ogilvy is one of those large downtown landmarks that most locals have never visited. With its bagpiper daily announcing the stroke of noon, this upscale department store has an intimidating old-world feel that keeps the rabble out. Check out the store’s designer duds, then feel up the enormous selection of oriental carpets or peruse their high-end stationery boutique before the security guards realize you’re not really the personal assistant to Donald Trump.
4200 St-Laurent, Suite 415
(514) 845-8697, JoyToyz.com
Joy Toyz can be a bit tricky to find, but once you do, it’s easy to see that you’ve hit the sweet spot. The knowledgeable and friendly female sales staff will set you at ease, and you’ll be able to ask any questions you may have about their high-quality sex toys and erotic massage accessories. Woman-owned and woman-friendly, this sex shop is all about class, sensitivity and discretion.
141 Ave Laurier West
(514) 270-5415, BillieBoutique.com
From J Brand jeans to Loeffler Randall flats, everything is available at this open and airy boutique run by two friends who met in fashion design school. We love the old-fashioned-meets-modern salon feel.