Originally published in OUT September 2008, issue 177
Montreal has a well-earned reputation for its sexy guys (most everything sounds better in French), a gay-positive attitude, love of food, wine, and a good time, and cultural insulation from America (and the remainder of Canada), proving the clich? that it's the most European of North American cities. Friendly, urbane, bi- and trilingual residents are the norm, so asking for directions can win one a new friend. While gays are fully integrated throughout the city, two neighborhoods have distinctly queer sensibilities: The enormous two-kilometer-long Gay Village is filled with caf?s, shops, restaurants, bars, and saunas, and the Plateau, a trendy hood a few metro stops away, is ideal for designer and vintage shopping. Each October, Montreal?s Olympic Stadium is host to the enormous Black & Blue Party [link to: http://www.BBCM.org], a pansexual circuit party culmination to a week of gay events, and it draws exuberant heteros along with the dancing queens.
The Bed Opus Hotel Montreal
10 Sherbrooke Ouest; (514) 843-6000
In the Latin Quarter, a 15-minute walk from the Gay Village, Opus is chic and sleek, a blend of art nouveau (the corner facade, circa 1914) and the recent modernist renovation. Good spot for business, but better for pleasure.
1019 Rue St.-Hubert; (514) 289-9297
Having combined two 120-year-old Victorian houses, this B&B has mastered homey without hokey. While there?s a gym, a 24-hour hot tub, and a clothing-optional sun deck, the rooms don?t have TVs or phones (and some share a bath); good for tuning out and turning on.
The Drink Caf? Mado
1115 Ste.-Catherine Est; (514) 525-7566
Grande dame Mado and her cabaret compatriots take having fun very seriously; superior drag and wit draw a cute queer crowd and some good-time breeders.
1171 Ste.-Catherine Est; (514) 842-1336
There?s no scene quite like Montreal?s nude dancer bars. Featuring built, beautiful guys who take it all off, a shower show, and a discreet VIP room, ?Le Stock? is a lively beginning ? or end ? to a night out.
The Bite Saloon
1333 Ste.-Catherine Est; (514) 522-1333
With a DJ, hot bartenders, saturated decor, Asian- and Latin-inspired cuisine, and knockout cocktails, Saloon is a total queer scene, in a good way.
1112 Blvd. De Maisonneuve Est; (514) 525-3443
This sophisticated and intimate BYOB bistro is all minimalist design, friendly staff, and masterful seasonal menu (only in French and only on the blackboard). Half the fun is asking for translations.
The Groove Le Sky Pub Club
1474 Ste.-Catherine Est; (514) 529-6969
Nicely appointed but not fussy, Sky is a popular multistory complex in the heart of the Gay Village that includes a pub, cabaret, rooftop terrace, and dance club, making it an ideal place for talking with friends over a drink or dancing all night.
1296 Rue Amherst; (514) 282-1199
This huge and always-packed dance club has a more varied clientele than most ? including women ? except for the Tunnel, the men-only downstairs with pool tables, dance floor, and back room.
The Threads Boutique OldGold
256 Mont-Royal Est; (514) 509-1675
Ur-hipster post-ironic shopping on the Plateau starts with OldGold, where the trendy meet the slightly insane. So what if you?ll regret those pants in 10 years?
1305 Ave. Papineau; (514) 524-7582
Ask for sexy daddy Jean-Marc, the proprietor of the funky barber-leather-headshop, and he'll offer you an inventive hair sculpture or set you up with a boot shine, massage, T-shirt, or other tough-guy goodies.