B+B Picks: Unconventional Study Spots in Montreal

Image by Erin Sass

We at McGill have the opportunity to be students in a beautiful and cosmopolitan city, so why do we always choose to study in the same places? In honour of campus opening up again once we return from Reading Week, our editorial board at the Bull & Bear shared their favourite, perhaps lesser known spots to study in Montreal and McGill. Because, as we all know, sometimes the third floor of McLennan Library gets a little busy!

Makenna Crackower, News Editor – Café Nocturne

I always head to Café Nocturne on Prince Arthur when I need a pick-me-up but also need to get some serious studying done . The atmosphere is lovely there – there is always a quiet chatter and a good blend of students meeting up with friends, picking up their Lufa farms groceries, and studying. The low hum of noise is a perfect study environment for me, and I’ve been able to write entire essays in an afternoon there. 

Their menu is pretty simple – just coffee —  and if you get there early enough they often have a few pastries, and sometimes even grilled cheese. Nocturne’s mochas are to-die-for, and the self-proclaimed “hipster” baristas who serve there are super friendly. Every day when you walk in, they have a question of the day open to anyone on a little notebook by the cash register. The questions range from your favorite tv show to binge, to much more existential ones, like whether or not the human race will be around in the next ten years. I recommend Café Nocturne to anyone who is looking to have a chill afternoon.

Linnea Vidger, Managing Editor – OSMO X MARUSAN Café-Terrasse

Image by Linnea Vidger

Café OSMO sits at the border of the McGill Ghetto and le Plateau, making it a spot that attracts both students and the general public. OSMO’s futuristic aesthetic and Japanese cuisine render it a refreshing departure from McLennan or the typical cafés students frequent around campus. When I need a break from studying, I browse  through the vinyls selection or treat myself to some udon noodles. The thing I like most about OSMO is the bumping techno music.  It is oddly comforting, probably because it causes me to daydream about Piknic Electronik. 

Hannah Wallace, Arts and Culture Editor – BANQ

There’s a sense of grandeur that overcomes you when you enter the BANQ.  The never-ending rows of bookshelves and the beams of sunlight shining on the cozy study spaces have been a great source of comfort over these past three years.  The library is far enough from the McGill campus to not be bombarded by dozens of students who never learnt how to properly whisper, but close enough to walk over to for an afternoon study session. I like to end my visits to the BANQ by checking out yet another book that I definitely won’t finish. Thankfully, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to renew it as you’ll find me there almost every weekend. 

Sarah Sylvester, Opinion Editor – Somewhere new

Image by shankar s, courtesy of Creative Commons

My favorite study spot is no study spot at all. I love to create controlled chaos in my life. A random bench in the park? Perhaps a quiet, liminal-space-like room in Mcconnell? A Plateau cafe that serves the worst egg salad sandwich I’ve ever had in my life? Every one of those options  is enticing. In my opinion, a  change of scenery is the best way to release the productive chemicals in the brain. Try switching it up and avoid going to McClennan Floor 2 every day. If you’d rather play it safe, at least sit by a window. The cold draft coming through most of them will keep you on your academic toes. Walk around the entire library until you find one; I promise it’s worth it. Or, if you can’t help but be a little basic, go to the busiest area of the library. If everyone else is grinding, you’re going to want to fit in, right? Just wash your hands and wear your mask, please. 

Sean Kim, Business and Technology Editor — Bronfman Basement


Image by Mathieu Thouvenin, Courtesy of Creative Commons

The basement of Bronfman has traditionally been home to the 4a7 socials every Thursday, but COVID restrictions have stopped students from partying in the basement every week for two years now. With this newfound sense of quiet, I find myself gravitating to the Armstrong study room that sits in the passageway between Bronfman and Armstrong. The cubicle-style desks help me immerse myself in my depressing homework, and the view is a source of inspiration to think outside the box. Of course, by  the view, I mean pictures taken of random scenic landscapes throughout the world hanging on the wall. 


Sam Shepherd, Co-Executive Editor — Octagon Room (Islamic Studies Library)

Image by TMAB2003, courtesy of Creative Commons

Founded in 1952, the Institute of Islamic Studies on McTavish is an architectural wonder. The library inside offers unparalleled access into medieval Muslim history and culture, and it boasts an impressive collection of books in Arabic, Persian, and Ulu.

Located in the corner of the library, the Octagon Room consists of two floors of bookshelves with a round, wooden table in the centre. A spiral staircase beckons you to climb upwards and explore the ancient texts, making you feel like you’ve landed somewhere between Lawrence of Arabia and Harry Potter. The only downside is that the walls are thin, meaning that you can sometimes hear student actors rehearsing in the basement of Morrice Hall next door. This is, of course, a possible perk if you enjoy free entertainment as you study. 

Rose Bostwick, Executive Editor – Cafe Aunja 

If you’re around campus looking for a more casual study spot, sink into the comfy armchairs at Cafe Aunja, an incredible Persian coffee shop on Sherbrooke (not sponsored, I promise). If you’re a tea lover, you definitely don’t want to miss this one– their tisanes and tea lattes come in beautiful mason jars with loose leaf teas, fresh fruit, herbs, and steamed milk carefully arrayed in aromatic layers. If you need a quick bite, their koukou sandwiches are also to die for.

Since this popular cafe might not be the most quiet, it’s more fitting for a quick everyday study session than a finals grind. For a silent, secluded study spot right on campus that nobody knows about, I go somewhere else– but that’s a secret I’ll never tell (well, at least not until I graduate).

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