A spa on the river seems like a great idea, but a spa IN a river is an even better idea. Meet Bota Bota, Spa sur L’eau, a floating day spa located in Montreal’s historical Old Port. Whether you’re a Montreal local or visiting this dynamic city, a trip to Bota Bota is sure to rejuvenate. Today, I’m recapping one of my most unique spa experiences in this Bota Bota spa review.
I was invited to Bota Bota by Kiara Blanchette, the brains and beauty behind Pur Opulence. We met at Place D’Armes subway station at 9:00 a.m. and walked over to the spa, located 15 minutes away from the metro. It was about -15C that day, so we practically booked it, through the Old Town and out to the water. I highly recommend coming to Bota Bota before 10:30 a.m., as they have a maximum capacity for guests. Around 12:30 when we left the spa, I could see a lineup of people in a blow-up igloo eagerly waiting to get in. There aren’t any reservations either (unless you might have a massage or group booked), so coming early is key to enjoying your experience and also relaxing before the spa gets too busy.
Another tip is to visit during the weekday, where you can take advantage of reduced rates, and even timed entrance of up to 3 hours. I can only imagine weekends being very busy as well.
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Once you sign in, you are led to a locker room to change. This level is below deck, and I wish they would spruce up this area of the spa with better lighting, brighter colours and more amenities. I found it to be a bit cramped (reminding myself that I am on a boat), but the amenities were all present including private showers and hair dryers. A tip is to bring your own plastic bag for your wet swimsuit, as Bota Bota spa is plastic bag free.
One aspect I liked about Bota Bota is that towels AND robes are included with the admission price. I don’t like bringing my own robe to spas because of the chlorine, so this was a welcome amenity.
Bota Bota Spa Review: Saunas and relaxation areas
Bota Bota might have a small footprint, but there are numerous saunas and rest areas to relax in. My personal favourites were the dry sauna on the top floor, as well as the Instagram-famous portholes lined with cushy mats that are perfect for a quick snooze or to curl up and read a book.
The newer area of the spa also includes a beautiful relaxation room equipped with comfortable swing chairs. You get a great view of the pools outside and the factory nearby. Not too many people were in this room, so Kiara and I were able to chit chat and gawk over Montreal luxury real estate magazines!
Overall, I liked that there were a few sauna and relaxation options available to guests. The only thing missing for me would be an aromatherapy vapor/steam room sauna.
Bota Bota Spa Review: Pools and Hot Tubs
Bota Bota has many areas to relax in the water. There are a few hot pools/hot tubs on decks with amazing, panoramic views of both Montreal’s Old Port and even Habitat 67. Even though it was very cold when we visited, these pools were located very close to saunas and rest areas, so the transition was very easy. Because I went early, I didn’t find these pools to be very busy, and the decks on the one side even allowed quiet conversation, which is a nice option if you’re visiting with a friend.
Overall, I found my experience at Bota Bota to be incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating. I loved the easy access from Montreal’s city centre, as well as how compact the spa was. It was so much fun exploring the ship and seeing different views of the Old Port, and is worth visiting for that novelty alone. I’m also begging them to open up a similar venture in Toronto’s Harbour, because I know I’d go once a month!
While I didn’t have a chance to eat or experience a treatment at the spa, I’d love to come back to Bota Bota soon for a massage and another blissful morning of floating in the river.
This article was featured in my roundup of the 10 Most Instagrammable Spots in Montreal.
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