Wanderlust: Hotel Chez Swann, Montreal

When traveling, my preference is to stay in a hotel with a little edge to it, lest my hard earned money be wasted on a lifeless cement and glass tower that makes me feel like I'm staying inside a conference room. With this in mind, I'm always looking for a cool hotel that reinforces the culture of where it's located, works with talented and ambitious artists or, at least, provides some unparalleled experience that I can make memories out of. Introducing: Hotel Chez Swann of Montreal. The Proust reference in the name and the post-glam nature of their website may have a few travelers scratching their heads but I think if you keep an open mind, scroll the gallery and book a stay, you'll be glad you did.

We caught up with food blogger/eccentric tastemaker Aaron Arizpe at Pocketfork who recently spent a weekend up north at Chez Swann. He says, as masochistic as it sounds, that the time to visit the low, low Arctic tundra is now.

What should we pack for a weekend at Chez Swann?

  • Your most comfortable bath robe. (Dual rainfall shower heads in a glass-walled "peek-a-boo" shower about as big as my apartment.)
  • Your credit card. Really good shopping area.
  • 3x more layers of clothing than you think you'll need.

What can't we miss during a weekend in Montreal?

  • A sugar shack! Like, say, Au Pied de Cochon's "Cabane à Sucre" that's roughly a 45 minute drive west of Montreal. It opens for the season today and runs through mid-May. Similar food, obviously, to Au Pied de Cochon itself and to Joe Beef which everybody (including me) also recommends.
  • Cafe Myriade. Epic coffee shop. Epic. My favorite on the planet. Four rotating roasters every day. Espresso flights. Siphon, eva solo, french press. All sorts of caffeinated shenanigans.
  • Parc du Mont-Royal. Maybe it's cliche but that park, especially when it's super snowy, is really beautiful. From there you've got views of the whole city. Plus it was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead who co-designed New York's Central Park.

For more travel stories by Mac Malikowski: