24-hour room service: Zero 1, Montreal

A study in elegance: Montreal's latest digs

Dead of winter or height of summer: there always seems to be a festival going on in Montreal. Be it jazz, comedy, snow, fireworks, dragon boats or burlesque, Canada's second-biggest city is dedicated to celebration. And Zero 1, located in the city's Quartier des Spectacles, puts you at the heart of this perpetual party.

However, a little over a year ago, you'd have been sharing these digs with a satchelful of students – the stocky, 12-storey block was formerly a hall of residence. But after a speedy renovation and the input of an award-winning design agency, it opened in June as an industrial-chic hotel.

There's still a faint whiff of university grunge about the place. Pockmarked walls – the result of past freshers' week high jinks, perhaps – have been left unfilled; concrete pillars remain exposed (one guest, says manager Jean-Martin, quipped, "Did you forget to paint it?"). There's also a look of Ikea about some of the furniture. The pay-off, however, is that you get bargain style and centrality.

That style is important. Montreal is one of just a handful of Unesco-designated Cities of Design, an indicator of its strong creative identity, and Zero 1 feels right at home here.

The hotel's design is playful: there's a central void accessed from the reception, part open to the elements high up on one side – an inside-but-outside space filled with loungey chairs, bean bags and lanterns. To be properly outside, there's a decked panoramic terrace on the fifth floor. And, from the architecture books and long sofas in the lobby, to the black walls, lime-tinted glass and bare concrete, the décor stays the right side of studenty.

There are some of the usual trappings – a conference room, business centre, (small) gym – but this place really isn't for the business crowd. The aim is to place visitors "at the heart of the arts" and provide them with a suitably edgy base to explore it all from.

On my autumn visit, some carpets were not quite tidied at the edge. And the in-house Alys Restaurant, set to serve tapas-style fare from renowned Québécois chef Louis-François Marcotte, was a work in progress, due to open in January. This meant there wasn't anywhere to serve a proper breakfast, but muffins and coffee were available in a room behind reception. In any case, the city's glut of patisseries, chocolatiers and droolingly-good eateries means venturing out for breakfast isn't a hardship.

Staff are helpful, but not over the top. "What we want to offer," says Jean-Martin, "is style without too much expense." And that's just what you get.

Location

Montreal is a city of Manhattan-esque neighbourhoods: cobbled Old Town, Chinatown, Little Italy, Plateau and trendy Mile End. Zero 1 sits in the Quartier des Spectacles (the Festivals Quarter), on the corner of two main arteries: René-Lévesque Boulevard and St-Laurent. Stay on a higher floor to get away from the traffic noise and for better views. Note, rather insalubriously, the city's minuscule Red Light District is just behind the hotel – but the area doesn't feel dodgy. Concentrate on what else is on your doorstep: it's a short walk south to the historic streets of Vieux Montréal; the trendy shops of Ste-Catherine are 10 minutes west; the cultural venues of the Place des Arts even closer.

Comfort

Rooms come in five styles (and price bands), the main difference being their size. "Pop" rooms feel quite compact, though clever design makes good use of the space; at the top end, the seven "Living" suites have two bedrooms and a lounge.

Comfort is key throughout. Sizeable beds with high-quality white linens are standard, as are neat kitchenettes, meaning those on long stays can eat in at space-age white plastic table and chairs.

The feel is overtly modern – black walls, dark-wood floors and huge lime-tinted mirrors are the backdrop to out-sized lampshades, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. Bathrooms aren't overly generous and towels could be fluffier, but who needs to linger? Enormous windows flood the rooms with light and will tempt you out into the city.

Zero 1, 1 René-Lévesque Boulevard East, Montreal, Canada (001 855 301 0001; zero1-mtl.com/en)

Rooms ****
Value *****
Service ****

Doubles start at C$129 (£80), room only, though free Wi-Fi is included.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam