My husband and I enjoyed a getaway to Montreal last weekend. It was an extension of a birthday celebration, and Montreal has always been one of our favourite Canadian destinations—for the food, for the culture and the shopping. We flew Porter and it couldn’t have been easier. Billy Bishop Airport is just a hop, skip and a jump from our neighbourhood. And during the flight, a complimentary glass of wine? Haven’t enjoyed that on a domestic flight in a while….our weekend was off to a great start. Less than an hour later we were in Montreal, on our way to Hôtel Le Crystal, our home for the next 48 hours. Hôtel Le Crystal Hôtel Le Crystal is an all-suite boutique hotel on rue de la Montagne in the heart of downtown Montreal, just steps from the shopping district on St. Catherine’s and kitty corner to The Bell Center, Montreal’s main concert venue and hockey arena. We opened the door to an unusually large and luxurious suite with separate living room and bedroom, gas fireplace, two flat screen televisions, two finely appointed bathrooms and a full kitchenette. Elegant yet comfortable, a vacationing family or a business traveller would feel entirely at home here. When I connected to the free wi-fi, drew a hot bath and gazed out on the view of the mountain, I felt pretty sure we were going to enjoy our stay. Restaurant l’Express After a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres at the hotel’s stylish wine bar, we headed to Restaurant l’Express (3927 Rue Saint-Denis) for a late dinner. My husband and I used to live in Montreal—at separate times, before we even knew each other—and we’d both been regulars at this popular bistro. Bustling with customers (there’s an old-fashioned dial telephone constantly ringing off the hook for reservations), L’Express is pure Montreal, full of vibrant francophones and busy servers. I ordered the soupe de poisson, a delicious fish soup. Here’s the drill: Take croûtes (little toasts), spread with rouille (a fancy garlic mayonnaise), adorn with shredded gruyère and dump the toasts into the soup. Allow the cheesy croûtes to melt and soak up all the soup and then devour. My guy got frites (with mayonnaise) and the mousse de foie de volailles aux pistaches, otherwise known as chicken pistachio pâté (Sounds way sexier in French, doesn’t it?). Served with crusty French bread, it’s rich and buttery, and you can’t believe something can taste so good. Amerispa The next morning I headed to the hotel's 12th floor to Amerispa. Julio, my tall and strapping massage therapist, led me to a serene massage room. His apple cider massage worked out every single kink in my body. (I never realize I need a massage until I’m actually having one—in this case, a good kneading was definitely overdue.) Afterwards, I curled up on a chaise in the relaxation room, cozy under a blanket, and sipped on lemon-infused water. I could have lingered on the health centre floor until lunch, but there was no time for a swim, hot tub or workout at the gym...it was time to hit the streets! Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal We shopped along St. Catherine’s (think Ogilvy and Simons) and eventually ended up at the Musée d’Art Contemporain. I love the paintings of Quebecois artists Paul-Émile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle, and some of their work is housed at this gallery. The dynamic brush strokes, the great gobs of paint layered on the canvas, the physicalization of feeling in a purely visual medium— these bold canvases have always been striking to me. La Coupole We stuck close to home that night for a romantic dinner. La Coupole is Hôtel Le Crystal’s Parisian-inspired fine dining restaurant. The room is built around a gorgeous chandelier that hangs from the second-floor cupola and past the mezzanine level, shedding a warm glow on the main floor dining room below. We ordered duck stuffed with apricots, a bottle of red wine and shared a divine crème brûlée for dessert. Excellent service, great food and lovely conversation—what a satisfying end to our day. Hockey and Bagels! By Sunday morning at 7 a.m. we were wrapped in soft hotel robes with room service breakfast en route. The Olympic men’s gold medal hockey game was upon us! After Canada’s amazing win, I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV and watched the closing ceremonies as well. (The soft-as-a-cloud king bed also might have had something to do with it). Our weekend was sadly coming to an end, but not before we completed one more mission. We grabbed a cab to Fairmount Bagel, waited in line (which stretched outside the store into the frigid cold), and bought three dozen still-warm sesame bagels for the road. Then we were off to the airport for the short flight home. Getaways are so important...it’s time to connected with your partner, time to come down off the work week, and time to discover new places to shop, see art and eat well. We left Montreal feeling rested, our batteries recharged and probably five pounds heavier than we were two days earlier. But it was totally worth it! Do you have a favourite getaway? For more ideas check out the Canadian Living story 7 romantic Canadian getaways and find your next destination!