I had first heard of this ferry boat-turned-spa when Jen McNeely of She Does the City told me about it when I was asking for tips on Montreal. Bota Bota – Spa Sur L’eau has now become one of my FAVOURITE spas in Canada and I always try to squeeze in a visit whenever I’m in Montreal.
Bota Bota is 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 with views of Old Montreal – 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 (where I also freelanced). 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. Getting to the boat requires only a simple walk from a connecting pathway. The spa provides each guest with a locker, towel and a bathrobe. Do bring your own flip-flops and a bathing suit (mandatory). If you start to feel peckish, take a break inside the cafe and grab yourself a light lunch.
If you’re looking to take a nap, I LOVE the hanging hammock sky chairs on one of the top levels at the back. You’ll sink in perfectly and be rocked gently to sleep.
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/$195 for one person and a private harpist in concert or $285 for two people.
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 $95/60 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. If you visit before 11 AM or 6 PM rates start from $35. 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. Bota Bota 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.
Bota Bota Spa Sur L’eau – Montreal