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This is the kind of hotel that Vancouver needs more of if it’s ever going to be a “world-class city.” The Rosewood Georgia Hotel is filled with sophistication and an exceptional level of service that even spills onto the street—when I paused outside before entering the hotel, the doorman (thinking I was a lost tourist) kindly asked if he could help me with directions. At that point, he didn’t even know I was heading to his hotel!
Upon entering the lobby, it quickly became clear why the renovation took 4 ½ years. A phenomenal job has been done restoring not only the building, but also many original features like clocks, elevator doors, etc. What amazed me was that it didn’t feel like an old hotel that had been renovated. Instead, it felt more like I had stepped back in time to 1927 when it was originally built. People like Katherine Hepburn and Elvis have stayed here.
Nowadays, the city’s hotshot bankers and lawyers have found a place worthy of their patronage, at Hawksworth Restaurant’s bar and lounge. (Don’t leave without trying the Hotel Georgia—a mixture of gin, orgeat, orange blossom, egg white, and nutmeg. It’s $12, but worth every penny).
The rooms live up to the rest of the hotel, and even entry-level rooms have huge washrooms with free-standing bathtubs and heated floors.
The only thing lacking is outdoor space. There’s a large indoor pool, as well as an outdoor Miami-style lounge/bar area called Reflections, but nowhere to bask in the sun. Instead, you can bask in the hotel’s splendour.
Times Square Suites' reception is on the parking level, which seemed strange until I walked into the office and was greeted by such friendly staff. The two gentleman and one woman were so personable yet professional, and really seemed to care about the property and take an interest in their guests.
The suites come in a variety of layouts, some less awkward than others (some extra beds seemed to be squeezed into dens and other spaces that didn't look to be set up as bedrooms). But the furnishings were modern and comfortable, and every room comes with a kitchen and washer and dryer. Some even have juliette balconies, but if you don't get one of these, no worries! There's a wonderful rooftop deck where you can lounge about or make use of the communal BBQ.
The corner of Davie and Denman can get a little loud, so if you're a light sleeper then you may prefer a room at the back.
The gentleman at the front desk was kind. That's about the only positive thing I have to say about this hotel. It's website promises a European-style budget hotel, but apart from a few old chairs in the lobby and a vase of dried flowers, I didn't sense anything European or comforting about it. The manager is only onsite for about an hour a day (if you're lucky). Judging by the guests entering and leaving the building (and the bilingual flyers advertising a casino shuttle bus service), I'm guessing the hotel caters to the Asian gambling and tour group markets.
Rooms are miniscule, there's nothing in terms of amenities, and the basement bar (The Den) felt like a sketchy karaoke lounge.
The hotel may offer cheap rooms, but they didn't even seem worth that. For the same price, you would be better off getting a private room at a hostel or investing another $20-30 a night for another budget hotel (there are many in town).
The Greenbrier is one of many budget hotel options on Robson Street, an ideal location if you're into shopping (plus, it's just blocks away from the seawall). But it's important to know that this end of Robson Street is a little mish-mashy; it lost it's groove years ago, and is now home to random Korean BBQ and sushi restaurants mixed with cheap souvenir shops and coffee shops. Still, it's a short walk to the more 'happening' section of Robson.
The hotel is a 3-storey walk-up, and feels like an old apartment building built in the 60s or 70s (which it probably is). The owners have done a good salvaging what was once a run-down hotel by upgrading the decor with tasteful sofas and curtains. It's a decent option is you're really on a budget, since rooms are fairly large and come with mini-kitchens. But overall, it's pretty basic and there's nothing in terms of facilities (e.g. no gym, business centre, etc.).
Personally, I'm not a fan of these apartment building conversions. Maybe it's the flourescent lighting in the kitchens or the uninspiring views from being in a 3-storey buliding, but something just feels a little old and depressing.
I really want to like this hotel. They've done a fabulous job forming relationships with the art community to incorporate some beautiful--and sometimes controversial--pieces into the property. The staff exude so much pride in the Museum and Gallery category rooms (where each guest room is decorated with a distinct style of artwork or First Nations hand-crafted pieces) that I hoped to feel enveloped by artistic expression. Instead, the rooms were fairly simple and felt somewhat bare. I have no complaints about them, as they were large, clean and well-maintained. It's just that I don't think the value is there for the rate they're charging (approximately $150-200 per night).
I love the small gallery space that's just off the lobby. As for amenities, there's a small gym and hot tub in the basement, but not much else. I prefer the rooms facing Robson Street. Although there's some street noise, it beats the rooms at the back of the hotel which look onto the alley.
The Delta Suites is clearly a business hotel, located near the CBD and next to Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, Being attached to a space designed for international conferences, the hotel benefits from an architecturally impressive lobby that makes it seem like you’ve stepped into something bigger than the hotel itself.
The women at the front desk and the concierge were friendly and helpful, and instantly brought a sense of warmth to what could easily be an impersonal space. Unlike other business hotels where I tend to feel anonymous, here I felt noticed.
The floor-to-ceiling windows in the rooms allow for lots of light, but ask for a room higher up if you want a view (some of the lower levels look onto another building). For $50, you can upgrade to Delta’s Signature Club Suite, which includes breakfast, hors d’oeuvres and an honour bar in the exclusive club lounge. If you’re two people, then it’s probably worth it since breakfast alone can get pricey these days. But the lounge itself wasn’t anything special. I could see reading the paper, having some brekkie, and heading out.
Overall, Delta Suites is a good option for what it is (corporate, slightly more affordable than luxury hotels), but I would spend a few extra bucks to stay somewhere with more character.
The Pan Pacific is situated in Vancouver’s Canada Place complex, the hub for cruise ships, tour buses and conventions. The building, which was designed to look like a cruise ship, is grand but feels a little impersonal since it’s primary purpose is to hold conventions. The decor in the lobby and dining areas reminded me of an airport—comfortable but nondescript and a little cold. The hotel rooms, however, are fresh and cozy, and have wonderful views of the waterfront and Gastown. But if you’re looking for something intimate or boutique, then this is probably not the place. It’s a large luxury hotel that caters to the masses.
A huge benefit to staying here is the location. You're literally steps away from both convention centres and the cruise ship docks; walk two blocks east and you’re in Gastown; one block west and you’re on the seawall, which will take you to Stanley Park; just up the street is the business district and shopping centre; and across the street is the Canada Line, which connects to the airport. There's no need for taxis!
My favourite part about this hotel is the outdoor pool and hot tub which overlook the harbour. I was there on a rainy day, so it was pretty quiet (albeit peaceful), but I can just imagine how great it would be on a sunny day to be sun-tanning while watching the ships dock.
The staff here try hard to make guests feel comfortable. From the help-yourself jellybean jar in the lobby to the collection of 300+ DVDs that can be borrowed (free of charge) to watch in the rooms, everything is set up to make you feel like you’re at a home away from home. Not surprisingly, the hotel sees a lot of return visitors who appreciate that intimate, casual feel. I personally prefer hotels with more amenities and areas to hang out (the lobby and gym here are quite small). But still, I can see why certain travellers—especially families—would like the large suites and full kitchens.
The hotel is located in the West End, a residential area on the other side of town. It’s about a 15-minute walk to the heart of downtown, but Davie Street (just a block away) has a lot of restaurant and take-out options.
In my opinion, the Westin Bayshore, located near the entrance to Stanley Park, is sitting on Vancouver’s prime piece of real estate. I can’t think of a better place to escape the city while still being in the city. It’s a little removed from the downtown core, but they do offer free shuttle service during the day.
Built in the 1960s, the hotel’s exterior doesn’t look as modern as some of the city’s glass towers, but trust me, everything inside feels luxurious and brand new. The lobby and guestrooms are immaculate. It really felt like someone was paying attention to the details. Besides, being an older building means you benefit from larger rooms and full balconies. Make sure to request a room with a balcony that faces Stanley Park – the scenery is incredible. I’ve lived in Vancouver for over 20 years, and even I was in awe of the view!
If you’re feeling energetic, sign up for the hotel’s running program, where one of its staff members leads groups around Stanley Park—it’s a great way to feel like a local. But if you’re looking to relax, I’d recommend dinner at Cardero’s (where you can oggle at the million-dollar yachts) or a glass of wine at Lift Bar & Grill, best enjoyed by the outdoor fireplace on the rooftop deck (skip the food, stick to the wine).
This hostel was in the midst of renovations when I was there, so the photos don’t quite do it justice (e.g. there is usually bedding in the private rooms). In a few months time, there should be new paint, carpeting, etc., but I’m not sure that that will do the trick.
I was expecting more from Hostelling International. I usually choose HI hostels over private ones because they feel cleaner and safer, but there was something dingy and depressing about this location. In all fairness, the building is about 100 years old, so there’s not much that can be done in terms of structure. Still, the rooms were small and stuffy and the layout of the common area made everything feel really dark and divided. It just didn’t feel like there was any life to the place. On the upside, all of the washrooms are private.
As much as I like HI as an organization, I don’t see what this location has to offer. SameSun Backpackers across the street has more of a social/party atmosphere, and the HI Downtown location is brighter and has much more to offer in terms of facilities (full kitchen, games rooms, rooftop patio, etc.).
I like this hotel. A lot. Something about it feels like a private club, probably because it’s tucked away on the top three floors of a high-end retail and condo complex. The ground floor is simple with just a reception desk, but that’s because the real lobby area is upstairs; an exclusive split-level space that includes a business centre, dining room and living-room-style lounge. This is a really unique (and large) space, especially for a hotel with just 60-rooms. It’s the perfect place to lounge after a long day of sightseeing or business meetings.
Although there’s nothing exciting about the décor in the guest rooms (the monochromatic tone is a little plain), they are spotless, quiet and relatively large compared to other hotels—the smallest room is 330-square-feet and has a king-sized bed.
My favourite feature, however, is the outdoor salt-water lap pool. It’s heated, so you can enjoy an early morning dip even on rainy days. Couple it with the ‘boutique breakfast’ buffet, and you may think twice about checking out.
The Loden feels a little removed from the bustle of the downtown core, which could be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for. It’s in Coal Harbour, an area filled with condominiums and a few office towers, but with surprisingly little activity on the street. Sill, it’s only a 5-10 minute walk to major transit routes as well as shops and restaurants.
Kudos to their architect and interior designer. There’s tones of natural light flowing in, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows in the hallways, gym and guest rooms. Plus, the rooms (in my opinion) have the most stylish décor in the city. Pulling off a brown and orange colour scheme isn’t easy, but here it feels warm and sexy.
And my favourite part (although not all rooms have them) was the open-concept bathroom. Instead of a wall, the bathroom was separated from the bedroom by sliding doors so you can choose to bath in privacy or out in the open!
In my opinion, the only thing preventing the Loden from being the perfect little boutique hotel is the staff. They were professional, but didn’t come across as warm and welcoming as, for example, the staff at the Wedgewood (another boutique hotel). When I was at the Loden, the restaurant and lobby were really busy. Everyone looked rushed, so there wasn’t much in the way of smiles or acknowledgement. It’s too bad because a simple smile can go a long way.
This hotel has everything you could need or want. Gym and pool? Of course. Sweet craving? Try Fleuri’s Chocoholic Buffet (National Geographic just rated it the #1 place in the world to get your chocolate fix). Wine tasting? Pop into the hotel’s Wine Merchant store. Too much wine? The News Café sells everything from Tylenol to bottled water. Breakfast to go? Grab a cappuccino and croissant at La Boulangerie, a favourite spot with locals. I could go on, but I’ll just say that it’s clear why the Sutton Place has remained a Vancouver institution: it has the amenities of a large hotel, but manages to evoke a sense of European-boutique intimacy.
It’s a welcome retreat from the bustle found just steps away at Robson and Burrard (the city’s busiest pedestrian intersection). If you love shopping, you’ll love Robson Street. Plus, the hotel has a Shopper Program where they’ve paired up with stores like Roots, Murchies Tea, H20+, and New Balance (plus many more) to offer exclusive discounts to hotel guests.
Upon entering the lobby, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this hotel. I thought that the artwork for sale in the lobby was tacky, until I found out about that it’s part of their unique artist in residence program. Every weekend, a local artist is invited to set up a temporary 'workshop' in the lobby so that guests can watch the artist in action. The pieces are then displayed in the lobby, and are available for purchase. I think it's classy that the hotel doesn’t take a commission—it’s just what they do to support the local art scene!
As for the guestrooms, they were well-appointed, but nothing particularly memorable as the decor felt traditional. What makes this property stand out, however, was the indoor/outdoor pool and large terrace, complete with fountains and trees. I know some people love a pool by the water, but I think there’s something special about having a nighttime dip and looking up to see that you’re surrounded by skyscrapers and city lights!
It’s also worth noting that Yew Restaurant + Bar is one of the city’s top three seafood restaurants. But even if you’re not into seafood, you might appreciate their Wine Down Sundays when all 300+ bottles of wine are half price.
The Coast Coal Harbour has a simple, fresh feel to it, which goes well with it’s location just a couple of blocks up from Harbour Green Park (my favourite spot in the city to lay on the grass and watch the seaplanes take off). The hotel is a little removed from the heart of the city, but it’s on the edge of the business district which makes it a nice, quiet place to be (it’s only a 5-10 minute walk to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Pacific Centre Mall, and Canada Line).
If you’re looking for a hotel that minimizes its impact on the environment, then this is your place. They’ve shown a real commitment to being environmentally friendly by introducing initiatives such as putting recycling and compost containers in each room, using biodegradable cleaning products, and heating water on demand. More hotels should follow suit.
There’s a small outdoor pool, although it’s more for swimming than lounging on the deck (it’s squeezed between office towers, so I can’t imagine much sunlight coming through). The guest rooms, however, felt bright and airy, and higher up rooms on the northwest corner have water views.
My expectations of this hotel were as high as its 63-stories. Maybe they were too high, because I was quickly disappointed to find out that, despite being in Vancouver’s tallest building, the hotel only goes up to the 15th floor (the upper 48 floors are residences). I was also surprised to open the curtains of a south-facing room and see an above-ground parking lot—not the kind of images that Shangri-La evokes. Good news it the lot is about to be torn down. Bad news is the inevitable construction for the next year or two (ask for a north-facing room instead, and enjoy views of the city and mountains).
Foodies will be delighted to find the Jean-Georges restaurant MARKET, but I preferred the more intimate setting of Xi Shi Lounge, which has live music every night from Monday-Saturday. I couldn’t help but to roll my eyes, however, when I saw the waitresses uniforms (you guessed it, Chinese cheongsams). Talk about cliché.
The rooms, the lobby, the dining areas were all luxurious, but none felt as unique as I hoped for. The one place, however, that made my jaw drop was the Shangri-La’s very own Chi Spa. Each treatment room had gorgeous Japanese sliding doors, a fireplace and a private steam room. Forget the guest rooms—I’d much rather spend the night here!