Mid-century magic is in the air at Le Saint Motel selfie studio. There are over a dozen backdrops capturing the kitsch and wonder of a roadside motel with vintage deco you can interact with while snapping shots. Grab the receiver of a gold-gilded rotary phone while reclining on a purple velvet fainting couch, or slink into a clawfoot tub enclosed in emerald curtains and peacock wallpaper.
Visitors receive a motel key (replete with a kitsch plastic keychain) to enter the space. Attached is a timer and a remote to control the intensity and colour of overhead lighting in each area.
All of the sets are tinged with mood-setting neon signs or unique lamps. The Twin Peaks-inspired Red Room, for instance, bathes visitors in a crimson glow. Ring lights are available to use free of charge.
To people look at a phone after snapping a shot under a neon light that reads "never trust the living" on the gothic side of a split black and pink bedroom.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram
The studio rooms blend seamlessly together, spanning a bedroom, bathroom, living rooms, garden, pool, and staircase. The more defined rooms are housed in small cabins with windows connecting them to maintain the motel illusion. Each one features such high attention to detail that it could double as a compact movie set. Vintage board games are stacked on a wood television in the late 70s room, along with artifacts from Expo '67, while gold trim and a chandelier hang over a ouija board in the turquoise tarot room.
"The kitsch motel vibe comes from road trips that we have been on. There's something charming about those old places that have weird deco, like fur walls and mirrors on ceilings," said Le Saint Motel co-creator and photographer Marisa Parisella. Both elements feature in different parts of the studio.
"A lot of our artifacts are from vintage stores, like Saint Michel Market. We also found a great company called ÉcoScéno that refurbishes old cinema and theatre pieces to prevent them from going to landfills," she said.
Le Saint Motel co-creators Olivier Dufort, Maria Parisella, and Astrid Apissoghomian hold a vintage Expo '67 map in one retro-themed room.@davidwallyrawalia | Instagram
Le Saint Motel is nestled in the industrial Chateau St-Ambroise building overlooking the Lachine Canal. It's a trek to the 2nd-floor studio, especially if you're wearing heels, but there are illuminated signs showing where the elevators and studio entrance are located to help navigate the space. With $5 parking in the back and a number of outdoor photography options, it's a convenient destination for models and photographers alike.
"The grounds here are beautiful. You can see out the window there's a gazebo and the water is right there too," said Parisella.
Of course, if it happens to be raining, the studio's indoor astroturf-carpeted tropical garden facing the pink heart-shaped pool is already an excellent option.
The ball pit was custom built from scratch for the space. The bottom is foam-padded, making it comfortable to sit, stand, or kneel while posing for photos. Up to three people can comfortably submerge themselves in the pool. A few lines of the former pink ball installation from Montreal's Village hang overhead, offering a complimentary nod to the city's history.
"Rooms will change. Every couple of months we'll update the themes. If we see that there's a demand for a certain style," Parisella said.
A visitor leans on a pillar painted to look like a pink palm tree, while taking a photo of a friend in one room.@davidwallyrawalia | Instagram
A well-lit mirror at the centre of the studio, near the custom-painted staircase, offers visitors the chance to touch up hair and make-up before a shoot.
Studio entry starts at $30 for one guest per hour, but the whole space can be rented for private shoots, starting at $500.
Le Saint Motel
Where: 4000 St-Ambroise, Suite 278
Cost: $30 for one guest for one hour; $50 for a two-hour visit. Private rentals start at $500.
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