After visiting the volcanic hot springs spa, Tabacon in Costa Rica - I was sure that I would never find another spa as lovely and unique. Well lo and behold, I discover Bota Bota Spa Sur L'eau - an old ferry boat converted into a five level spa that's 'parked' on the St. Lawrence River with a view of the Old Port of Montreal. It's literally a spa in the water. So imagine the delight of sitting in a hot tub, on a boat, soaking up the sun - heaven, I know.
The concept is similar to a Scandinavian spa with steam rooms, saunas, cold plunge pools and sun decks spread throughout the boat. The view is breathtaking and well-calculated by the designers from the ad agency turned architects at Sid Lee. If you're a fan of modern design, you'll enjoy all the imagination put into this spa.
The upper sun deck with a cold plunge pool, beanbag chairs and a second hot tub in the back (above). A terrace will open in the summer with a DJ and BBQ menu from the on-site cafe. Getting to the boat requires only a simple walk from a connecting pathway. The spa provides each guest with a locker, towels and a bathrobe. Do bring your own flip-flops and a bathing suit. If you start to feel peckish, take a break inside the cafe and try one of their giant homemade zucchini muffins with a fruit salad and their signature nut mix.
One of the most unique services that Bota Bota offers is a massage choreographed to music featuring a LIVE harpist! Now how decadent is that? This Bota Bota Signature massage starts from 60 minutes/$210 for one person and a private harpist in concert or $300 for two people. Which is actually pretty reasonable when you compare it to the price of a hotel spa massage.
All of the massage therapists are RMTs - so do ask for a receipt if you can claim against your insurance. Regular massage therapy starts from $90/60 minutes and you can add-on access to the water circuit or even a yoga class for an additional charge. A day visit starts from $45 for three hours on a weekday, weekend rates are $5 more. If you visit before 11 AM, pay only $30 or show up on a Tuesday when the rates are two for $60. It's a great way to relax and enjoy Old Montreal.
In addition to massage therapy, Bota Bota also offers facial treatments, manicures, pedicures (in the Bota Chic lounge) and body scrubs. The spa launched in 2010 and has been packing in the crowds ever since.
The moody sub-level locker room makes you feel like you're in a submarine. There is a shower area to rinse-off and the spa has a hair drying station to get you all prettied up again. We definitely think this spa on a boat is a must-visit next time you're in Montreal, even if you can only squeeze in the water circuit - it's well worth it. Watch the video below to see how Bota Bota came to life:
Bota Bota Spa Sur L'eau - Montreal