Montreal Work Places That Feel Like Play Spaces


Productivity. It’s the buzz-word at the center of every idea coming to fruition, every project reaching its full potential, and every self-made success story. And while the recipe to being productive has traditionally (and somewhat incorrectly) been construed as an “all work and no play” type of scenario, the modern professional has no time for such an antiquated, black-and-white school of thought.

In an idealistic view of getting shit done, it would be wonderfully convenient to be able to sit down in your home office space and work for several hours straight on the daily until the task at hand is complete – however, even the notion of sitting between the same four walls for days of uninterrupted work is enough to suck the will power out of most people. Enter the era of carefully curated spaces envisioned for the on-the-go movers and shakers who refuse to sacrifice life’s simple pleasures for the sake of work. These spaces come in the form of coffee shops, green spaces, and libraries, with varying price points and moods, lending an array of options for Montrealers of varying backgrounds both financially and taste-wise.

1. Café Tommy 

Boasting a prime piece of real estate and a mean latte, Café Tommy’s opening in the Old Port signifies a new era of coffee shop study sessions. The whitewashed aesthetic, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, rococo-inspired crown mouldings, and sporadic placement of greenery throughout the space ensures a serene experience to keep the productivity juices flowing, with a touch of luxury.    

2. Westmount Greenhouse & Library

 This slice of Victorian-era greenspace, residing in the quasi-residential urban setting of the Westmount Library is an unexpected gem. Its humidity makes it enjoyable even in the winter, and its glass ceilings make for perfect lighting.

3. McGill University’s Islamic Studies Library

McGill University’s picturesque beauty stretches not only the span of it’s immense outdoor campus, but in certain instances, can also be detected throughout the interiors of some buildings. And while immersing one’s self in the institution’s old-world aesthetic can simply mean laying down a blanket in the courtyard, the Islamic Studies’ library provides an equally charming indoor space for working throughout the colder months. High ceilings adorned with mahogany beams and stained glass windows are only a couple of the reasons why you should pay a visit to this lovely work space.

4. St. Joseph’s Oratory

Now, before you assume that this is a Christian-specific post, let me clarify that there is no discrimination taking place here. Anyone is welcome to use this space so long as there is no mass scheduled. The oratory’s sublime architectural intricacy and high-ceilings allow space for ideas and thoughts to aerate while you work. This, coupled with the general tranquility of a religious building make for a library-esque working environment.

5. Concordia University’s Rooftop Greenhouse

The idea of a quiet space in the city is already a stretch, but to have a quiet GREENspace in the city is next to impossible. Enter the Concordia Tea Atrium. This rooftop greenhouse offers up a much-welcomed break in the concrete noise known as downtown where students (and their non-Concordian friends) can take advantage of the school’s free wifi while breathing in the freshly oxygenated air provided by the various plants that line the room. There is also a communal kitchen where various homegrown teas are available for purchase.

6. Breather Rental Rooms

If you’ve got a little bit of disposable income to play around with and are looking for a space to be inspired in, look no further than Breather.com. This unique online service offers various spaces in Montreal and Ottawa as well as certain U.S. cities. The style of the locations vary from modern to rustic, meaning there is truly a room to suit everyone. Rentals are available for half-hour periods to an entire day; great for someone looking for a change of scene without the commitment of taking on a second rent. To top everything off, free coffee and wifi are included with the rental of any of their spaces!

7. Blanc de Blanc

This panini-gem of the Plateau is a perfect spot to get work done in every facet of your life. Multitasking is made simple with their innovative café/laundromat combo, making both your work tasks and your household duties doable from the comfort of their eclectically decorated space. During what’s left of the warmer months, you can also catch some sun in their adorable back garden!

8. Cafe Shaika

For those of you who hail from the island’s beloved Notre-Dame-de-Grace – don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you! This cute little coffee shop, complete with local artist’s work as decor, as well as fair-trade coffee and tea, is an apt spot for creative gatherings or brainstorming sessions. As for outdoor options, Shaika’s got you covered with their sidewalk terrace facing the hustle and bustle of Sherbrooke street.

9. La Commune

La Commune is a communal office space situated in the heart of the city’s Old Port. With options ranging from a desk rental in their shared space, to a personal office for one, this coworking haven is perfect for someone who’s got somewhat of a budget to work with. What’s cool about La Commune is that the communal vibes create a positive energy to engage in – for instance, members of La Commune enjoy Free Lunch Fridays, on which one member cooks for everyone. This kind of environment leaves no option but to blend and brainstorm with some like-minded creative individuals. 

10. Buck15 Espresso Bar

Buck is back, and we here at Female Department could not be happier! Although space is limited, the general atmosphere in this St. Henri café is conducive to a productive day. On a given afternoon in this caffeine-hub, it wouldn’t be a stretch to find a handful of young professionals working away on their laptops; sides of (drool-worthy) toast beside almost each of them. With surroundings such as these, motivation is never too far out of reach.  

By Karyna Evangelista


About the Author:
Karyna is a Montréal native with a penchant for all things artistic. Whether it be fashion, music, visual arts, or literature, you can find her all up in the latest happenings around the city. Her affiliation with fashion comes from a desire to see a primarily female-focused industry take on a more conscious and empowering stance in the struggle towards equality, as well as the desire to compile every so-called “rule” of fashion, only to consequently break them and see what happens. When she’s not busy tending to these preoccupations, she’s probably hard at work on her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies at Concordia University, or hanging with her other half, Biscuit (who happens to be a tiny poodle). Legend has it that if you ask her real nicely, she might even whip you up a batch of her ever-tasty veggie chili in exchange for some stimulating conversation over a few (more) glasses of red wine.