Torn between the two!
In Montreal, we stayed at Auberge Alternative , in a private room for two people for $85.00 a night all up including a breakfast of Cereal or the Montreal favourite – bagels, spreads, freshly brewed coffee/tea and juice. Situated in Old Montreal, the renovated factory, overflowed with character. Reception was on the first floor (no lifts), in a one room, multi-function area. Included in this one space was:
- Reception – French and English spoken
- Dining – an eclectic mix of tables and chairs
- Kitchen – stainless steel kitchen, two fridges, three stoves, large preparation area and sinks, hanging pots and pans, communal food stash, i.e. donations from past guests, gratis free-trade drip coffee all day (you just have to ask and they make more). Because the kitchen is on full view of everyone including staff, it is always left clean and tidy – a real bonus.
- Lounge – another eclectic mix of lounge chairs that are soo comfortable
- Library – containing cast offs from past guests?
- Computers – free
- Tourist Brochures
The dorms and rooms were on the next two floors, as was the Laundry. The laundry could be used by guests after the staff had finished washing and drying all of the linen from the hostel each day.
The combination of toilets/baths/showers on each floor were usually clean and accessible.
It was Spring when we were there and the staff were in the process of potting flowering plants to fill the deep window ledges in the common room.
Reception staff choose the music which was – you guessed it – Eclectic. You are guaranteed not to get bored listening to the mix.
They also hosted art exhibitions. One happened when we were there. None of the guests I spoke to knew what was going on. There was wine for sale and free nibbles, so we tucked in, and then a arty crowd of non-guests started arriving and it turned into an entertaining evening. Somewhere during the night we figured out it was the opening of an exhibition. (We thought the paintings on the walls were always there!)
I just loved this place, although not party central, it was a good place to meet other like-minded travellers, to link up for a night or two on the town (see organized activities for each week), and to use as a base to explore the city from. The Old Montreal district has some beautiful old buildings and is close to the river and china town (cheap meals), and as a result is full of tourists.
On our second last day we visited the Plateau area of Montreal. This area is the East Village (NYC) of Montreal, the place where anything and everything happens. Street art, cheap art cafes, boutiques, and a park overflowing with picnics, music, and young people. Every city has one area that grabs you by the seat of the pants and says “I am for you”. In Montreal, that place is Plateau. Wikipedia aptly describes it as “being characterized by brightly-coloured houses, cafés, book shops, and a laissez-faire attitude”. Most of the houses have had stairs added out the front for multi-level living.
Had I known that Plateau was going to grab me,I definitely would have stayed in this area. In a strange twist of fate, we had originally booked a unit here through Airbnb, but the owner cancelled at the last minute. This was not Airbnb’s fault, and they refunded our money no problem and gave us a $20 reduction in price if we wanted to book another place through them. Instead, happily, we found Auberge Alternative, the next cheapest option.
My dilemma is, if we were to return to Montreal now, would I stay at my favourite hostel, Auberge Alternative or find another place to stay in my favourite area – Plateau. Things are never the same when you return so I would probably find a new place in Plateau, or would I?