By Chadner Navarro
Understanding Le Meridien’s place in the hospitality world is not always easy. It’s not a luxury hotel in the same vein as Four Seasons and Aman, but it’s not a straight-forward business chain like the Conrad either. It’s in the variety of in-house programming that sets Le Meridien apart since Starwood spearheaded a project to refine and redefine its hotels, leading to many of their properties undergoing renovations.
The most recent to emerge from a makeover is Montreal’s Le Méridien Versailles in late May. The striking, Brutalist building—previously an apartment complex from the ‘50s and officially a Starwood property since 2005—does very little to hint at the mid-century modern panache it houses. But indeed that modern design narrative is at the crux of Le Meridien’s visual masterplan. In its Montreal hotel, the strongest examples of this are in the 108 bedrooms and suites. They all have near identical interiors with deep navy walls or chevron-striped wallpaper that give units a cool, contemporary feel. Sleek furniture like disco-esque pendant lamps, wood nesting side tables, and lounge chairs upholstered in slate-gray textile make each room feel like a minimalist apartment, especially the ones where wood panels from the building’s original iteration are still used, giving these spaces retro warmth. Plus, from way up there, windows look out to great views of the city.
While rooms and suites exhibit decorative restraint, the new public spaces are far more visually assertive. The main lobby itself is a study in glitzy glamour with its mix of gold, black, and marble. Greeting guests as they walk through the main doors is a layered painting by local artist Adlan Kaezar. The front desks are set against a custom-made feature wall in gold and black that’s meant to represent the city’s grid—a series of streets that run both parallel and perpendicular to each other. This angular pattern is mirrored on the suspended ceiling installation that leads to the hotel’s Hub, one of the renovation’s crowning achievement.
The Hub is Le Meridien’s reimagined lobby concept installed in all of the brand’s properties. They’re all individually designed to reflect its location and to give it a sense of place, but at the core of this initiative is to create a space with an atmosphere that invites guests to gather and engage. It’s more than just a waiting area; the Le Meridien Hub was developed to be an experiential destination within the hotel. Design-wise, Le Méridien Versailles’ brand-spanking-new Hub complements the entryway’s striking style while maintaining that crucial midcentury modern vibe. The low-lying furniture wouldn’t be out of place in a Palm Springs crash-pad. The communal bar-height table is perfectly suited for either a group lunch or a meeting of millennials about the next techie discovery. The Hub is flexible enough to serve many purposes, especially because it’s adjacent to the hotel bar, which is also something of a chameleon.
During the day, it’s a coffee bar with potent cups of java ready to energize the sleepiest guests and hardworking locals. But once the sun sets, the bar display transforms itself into a nightlife den for sharp cocktails. It’s a lively evening spot, for sure, but it’s also where you can indulge in another one of Le Meridien’s brand concepts: the eclair. The group partnered with celebrated pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini to create singular eclairs for Le Meridien properties, and the unveiling of the renovated Le Méridien Versailles was the perfect time to introduce a sweet-meets-savory treat. The eclair for Montreal is a pastry homage to the city’s culinary prowess, featuring everything from maple syrup (of course, it’s Canada) and cheese curd (from the poutine) to malt (a nod to Montreal’s many craft breweries) and Montreal spice mix to give it a slightly salty twist.
Images courtesy of Le Méridien Versailles