Editor’s Pick: Luxe Montreal Hotel for Just $144 Per Night

By Celia Shatzman
January 27, 2022
Renaissance Montreal
Courtesy Renaissance Montreal

There’s no need to fly across the pond for Francophiles to get their fix—now a taste of the City of Lights can be had right here in North America. Montreal has always been an alternative to Paris when it comes to French flavors at slashed prices (that’s why we’ve celebrated it in the past), and the new Renaissance Montreal is offering quite a deal. To celebrate its debut, now through April 23, they’re offering a special discovery rate of $144, compared to the regular $210.

Located in the heart of downtown Montreal, the 142-room hotel has major perks that belie its price point. The design is an intriguing blend of art deco architecture, modern furnishings, street art by local artist Alexandre Veilleux, and contemporary art by other local artists as well, playing off of the unique aesthetic of Montreal. A DJ booth—complete with swinging benches—delivers live entertainment in style, while master mixologist Lawrence Piccard dreamed up a creative cocktail menu at East, the hotel’s contemporary Pan-Asian restaurant, located just off the lobby. And starting in April, they’ll have the bragging rights to the only rooftop terrace in downtown Montreal, when the 12th-floor oasis opens its doors to panoramic views. It also boasts a full bar, bistro kitchen, and a stainless steel plunge pool.

The deal doesn’t end when you walk out the doors—there are plenty of free things to do the in city. Here are just a few:

• Take a free walking tour of Old Town, courtesy of Free Montreal Tours, and learn all about the city’s history, architecture, culture, and more.

• Check out modern urban and street art at the Station 16 Gallery, which features new artists from around the globe.

• For a dose of history, visit Mount Royal Cemetery—one of the first rural cemeteries in North America, making it an official National Historic Site—and take a self-guided walking tour. Nature lovers should pick up the tree brochure that outlines the cemetery’s arboretum with more than 100 species of tree on 165 acres, and there are more than 145 bird species too.

• During the warm months, enjoy complimentary dance, music, and film performances at Parc Lafontaine, and in winter, it’s popular for ice skating.

• The Segal Centre for Performing Arts offers many free lectures, including its Sundays @ The Segal series.

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Bueller... Bueller... Ferris Fest Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off'

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." —Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off Talk about travel inspiration! That was the only reason '80s icon Ferris Bueller needed to devise the coolest staycation in movie history: ditching high school with pals one last time before graduation for an epic day in the city of Chicago, from cheering on the Cubs at Wrigley Field to having an existential moment at the Art Institute of Chicago. And now you have the best excuse ever to visit the Windy City from May 20–22: Ferris Fest: A 30th Anniversary Leisure Weekend, three days of fun celebrating the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off's 30th anniversary (tickets $10 and up, What can you expect? A series of events that'll have you following in the footsteps of Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron. These attractions are only the tip of the iceberg: • A live re-creation of the film’s “Twist and Shout” parade. • A replica of Ferris’s room by artists Sarah Keenlyside and Joe Clement that you can step inside. • A two-day, two-part bus tour of the filming locations, including Cameron’s house, Glenbrook North High School, the Art Institute of Chicago, Northbrook Water Tower, and Wrigley Field. • A screening of the movie at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in Chicago suburb Lake Forest. Stars from the film will participate in a Q&A, and the superfans organizing the event have confirmed appearances from a few cast members, including Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris’s parents, and Jonathan Schmock, the French restaurant maitre d'. Who knows who else might show up? Ticket prices range from $10 for to see the parade and Ferris's room all the way to $300 for a full three-day package. Reserve yours ASAP, because they're going fast. The priciest package is already sold out, but the event organizer says tickets for individual days and attractions are still up for grabs, with "more to come soon." Keep an eye on for more info—or try your luck persuading someone in charge that you're Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago, and you need a ticket pronto.* One thing is sure: This is not the time to pull a Cameron and pretend you're sick so you can bail. And if you can’t get off work, in the spirit of Ferris Bueller, play hooky! *We don't actually suggest doing this.


Eat Like a Local in Vietnam

Danika Garlotta and her husband Chris are traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at Vietnamese food is without a doubt, one of my favorite cuisines. My husband Chris and I love its creative ingredients, and that mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavors! Although we were excited to visit Vietnam in general, we were more excited to taste everything and eat our way through the various cities we were visiting like Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Saigon. Of course, being a huge country, the various regions of Vietnam (north, central, and south) each had their own unique food styles. We felt lucky that over the course of three weeks, we'd have the chance to try the food from so many different parts of the country. No matter where we went, we were able to find vietnamese staples like Pho and Bun Cha, but we were surprised by the variation from one city to another -- for instance, the Pho you order in Hanoi is almost completely different from the Pho you'll get in Saigon. Another thing that surprised us was that each of the three regions we visited had very different dining cultures (at least from what we could tell). In Hanoi, the north of Vietnam, the places we ate were basically "mom and pop" street food stalls. In Hue and Hoi an, the central region of Vietnam, things were a little more developed, and we found a broader selection of traditional restaurants. In Saigon, Vietnam's largest city, we were able to find everything from amazing street food to fine dining all on the same street. Below are a few tips for eating some of the best Vietnamese food we tried, while on our 3 week tour of Vietnam in July 2014. I know we are missing a ton of dishes on this list, so let us know about your favorites in the comments! Tips for eating in Vietnam: One thing we quickly learned, was that eating in Vietnam is a very different than eating in a Vietnamese restaurants in the US or Europe.  Below are a few things to keep in mind when while looking for a bite to eat in Vietnam. Be adventurous: Many restaurants in Vietnam (especially Hanoi) don't always look like traditional restaurants in the US or Europe. Sometimes, the "restaurant" is the front room of someone's house, and they serve food to you in what is essentially their living room. Sometimes the "restaurant" is just a grill setup over an open fire on the sidewalk. If you see people sitting on little plastic stools, go ahead and join them. We did this many times, and had amazing meals, and never died. It's perfectly safe. Look for locals: This golden rule of eating in a foreign city applies anywhere, but especially for Vietnam. If you look into a place and see nothing but wide eyed westerners looking back at you, run away. Often times this tactic does mean that you will end up going into places that may appear to be less than "100% sanitary" (though you'll get over that quickly in Vietnam), and they most likely will not have a translated menu for you. Deal with it. Find someone who is eating something that looks good and point to it when you order. Odds are you'll get delicious, authentic food, and for a fraction of what you'd pay in a restaurant that caters to foreigners.    Don't always expect to get a menu: Many places we ate in Vietnam only served 1 dish. You basically walk up, grab a stool, and within 30 seconds someone walks over and puts down a bowl or plate of what ever it is that restaurant makes. It could be skewers, bun cha, pho, or something else you may not always recognize, but whatever it is, that's what you're going to eat, there are no substitutions.  Drink beer: It's hot in Vietnam, and nothing helps cool you down like a glass of beer. You'll see it for sale everywhere. We bought some from an old lady selling it out of her house, and we sat with her on little stools on the sidewalk and drank a few bottles. Also, a bottle of beer is cheaper than a bottle of water in Vietnam, use that to your advantage, and remember beer is 95% water anyway! Cheers! Speaking of Beer, try Bia Hởi This is a dirt cheap local style of Vietnamese beer. Expect to pay a few pennies for a glass. Bia Hởi literally means fresh beer. It's brewed each the morning and is sold later that day! Don't be turned off when you see it served with large amounts of ice. It's surprisingly refreshing and when it's hot and humid (even inside the air conditioned rooms), you'll be thankful.   Our favorite food from Hanoi: Bun Cha: The signature dish of Hanoi.  Follow your nose to a smoky street-side grill and chances are you'll find Bun Cha. You'll be given a mound of grilled pork neck, fried spring rolls, salty-sweet broth, slices of green papaya, rice noodles, and fresh herbs. Mix everything together and enjoy.  Morning Glory Salad: Although we found this everywhere in Vietnam, we first tried it in Hanoi. It's a crispy vegetable that is stripped down to be noodle like and we ate in variety of different ways. My favorite was eating it raw with grilled beef on top and that tangy sweet sauce, Vietnam does so well.  Phở: There is a big difference between Phở served in Hanoi and Saigon. In Hanoi you get wider noodles, a darker broth and my favorite - a strong anise and cinnamon flavor. If you're used to getting all the different garnishes (herbs, lemon, different types of meat, etc) you'll have better luck in Southern Vietnam. Bahn Mi: A baguette sandwich that is given a Southeast Asian twist by stuffing it with pâté, mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeños, cilantro and cold cuts. Although we found Bahn Mi everywhere in Vietnam, we liked it best in Hanoi. Most of the stands we came across only had 2 basic types; Banh Mi Pate (where you choose your meat), and Banh Mi Trung (egg), which is the best breakfast sandwich you'll ever have Che Thap Cam / Red bean, Ice Drink: A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B, that's the gist of che thap cam. Whatever the dealer is selling, she'll spoon in a smidgen of each. You'll most likely receive layers of beans, jellies, tapioca, coconut milk, shaved ice and more beans.  Our favorite food from Hoi An: Cao Lau: This is probably one of the most famous dishes to come from Hoi An. It's a pork noodle soup made with fat yellow noodles, slabs of tender pork, bean sprouts, fresh greens and crispy croutons. What makes this dish special is the noodles must be made with the water from one of the closely guarded ancient Cham wells hidden throughout Hoi An. Banh Bao Vac: A delicious shrimp or pork dumpling that when steamed looks like a white rose. Topped with crispy shallots and a tangy dipping sauce, this is one of my favorite appetizers. Com Ga Hoi An: Otherwise known as chicken rice and pretty much available at every restaurants.   Central Food Market: Although we didn't get to visit this so called "foodies paradise", we had heard enough good praises from credible sources, that this is the best place to sample all of Hoi An's unique dishes.  Our favorite food from Hue: Banh loc tran: What I conside the equivalent of the Banh Bao Vac (white rose dumplings) of Hoi An. These dumpling like ravioli's are made with a tapioca flour-based dough and stuffed with a generous portion of shrimp and pork. Banh Beom: Steamed rice cakes, that are topped with dried shrimp, pork cracklings, shallots and herbs. Banh Khoai: Banh khoai literally means "delicious cake" and is served open face. The crispy pancakes are traditionally filled with pork, shrimp and sprouts serve with fresh greens and fermented soy bean peanut sauce. Mystery Chicken: I'm not sure exactly what we ate, but one afternoon our tuk-tuk driver took us into a food market in Hue, where we were led to a pair of small plastic stools sitting in 2 inches of some rancid looking water. At first we were a little unsure, but after noticing we were surrounded by 10 other Vietnamese locals all chowing down, we decided to give it a go. It's a good thing we did, because next thing you know the woman reaches over and gives us 4 skewers of mystery chicken (at least I think it was chicken). Honestly it was so good that we ended up ordering many more skewers, and after a few cans of Huda beer, we didn't even care if it was chicken or not, as it was so damn good.  Our favorite food from Saigon: Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio - A combination of grilled meat, fried spring rolls and sweet and sour sauce all on top of rice vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs. Best served street side on a child's stool.  Phở: The Phở  served in Saigon seemed to come in much larger bowls, smaller noodles and with all the delicious accoutrements I could want - mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, sawtooth herbs, lime and hoisen sauce.  Ca Phe Da: More commonly known as Vietnamese Iced  Coffee.You can find this almost anywhere in Vietnam and it's so much more than just coffee. It's dessert, it's energy, it's just delicious! It's made with coarsely ground Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee, individually brewed with a small metal French drip filter. It's then poured into a cup containing as much sweetened condensed milk, stirred and poured over ice. Chris drank like 4 of these a each day.  Square One Restaurant: Ok, this one is not a dish, but an actual restaurant. Located inside the Park Hyatt hotel, this was one of the best meals we had in Saigon. We wanted to dress up a bit and see what the fine dining scene was like in Saigon. With an open kitchen and chic decor, we dined on authentic Vietnamese dishes and had great wine and cocktails. 


These Eco-Friendly Airports Are Inspiring a Green Revolution

Our friends at are celebrating Earth Day 2016 with a story by Toronto-based travel writer Jessica Padykula (@JessPadykula) spotlighting “eco-innovating” airports from around the world. Here are some of the airports that are leading the way in sustainability: Changi International Airport in Singapore is considered an overall top airport experience by savvy travelers, and it leads the way in eco-friendliness too. Here you’ll find more than 900 skylights (which cut down on electricity for lighting), indoor gardens, rainwater harvesting, and even a butterfly garden and a nature trail. Pearson International Airport in Toronto is pioneering a cool new mode of sustainability by introducing a honeybee apiary to help support food security and farming in the area surrounding the airport. San Francisco International Airport has bragging rights to the U.S.’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification for its Terminal 2. More than 90 percent of the terminal’s construction and demolition waste was recycled, the airport planted more than 2,000 trees to reduce CO2 emissions by 120 tons per year, and water usage has gone down by more than 57 million gallons per year. East Midlands Airport in the U.K. installed two commercial-scale wind turbines, producing 5 percent of the airport’s electricity, and since 2012 the airport has been achieving “carbon-neutral” ground operations. Denver International Airport has installed four solar arrays, bringing its total solar capacity to 10 megawatts, the most of any American airport and enough electricity to power more than 2,000 homes each year.


Paris: The controversial love locks

Paris's "love padlocks": Romantic idea, or public defacement? The railings on Paris's Pont des Arts bridge are covered with multi-colored padlocks. For a few years, couples have been attaching padlocks to the pedestrian bridge. They toss the keys into the Seine in a gesture of endless love. No one is sure how the tradition started. The HuffPo reports that the gesture may have been copied from lovers in China. Chinese couples have locking up their love and throwing away the key from the sides of Mount Huang for decades. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('109ab273-bed7-495a-938f-608d21e44174');Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)In the case of Paris, officials think the padlocks are an eyesore. So one day last year, about 2,000 of them disappeared from the bridge. Some locals and visitors complained, and the locks are slowly being added again. Romantic idea, or public defacement? It's all in the eye of the beholder. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Real Deal: Paris & Rome, Air/6 Nights, From $999 What do you collect on your travels? (35+ comments) Would you fly more frequently if airplane seats were more comfortable? (40+ comments)