From budget to boutique to all-out luxury, you can find a hotel that matches your needs in downtown Vancouver. We’re partial to lodgings with personality — accommodations that give you a sense of place or put you in the middle of a cool urban neighborhood. Here are our picks for five favorite Vancouver hotels that have personality to spare:
This 1950s motor lodge in downtown Vancouver has been reborn as a cool, retro boutique hotel. The 72 rooms, built around a palm-tree filled courtyard, aren’t large, but they’ve been updated with all the expected boutique lodging amenities, from mini fridges and Nespresso machines to flat-screen TVs. On a sunny day, you can hang out in the courtyard, and you’d almost think you were in Miami. Borrow one of the free cruiser bikes, though, to pedal along the Seawall or up to Stanley Park, and you’ll know that you’re in Vancouver — one of the west coast’s most scenic cities.
What’s Nearby: Elysian Coffee, just off the lobby. Creative small plates and local wine at La Tab, across the street. Davie Village, the heart of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community.
Located on Robson Street downtown, the Listel bills itself as Vancouver’s most “art-full” hotel, a title that’s well-deserved. The 129-room low-rise property is filled with original contemporary art. The “Museum” rooms are decorated with First Nations artwork, in partnership with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, while a local art gallery provided the contemporary works in the eclectic “Gallery” rooms. The hotel has two good dining outlets, too: forage, the more sophisticated farm-to-table dining room, and Timber, a fun Canadian-themed eatery and pub.
What’s Nearby: Shopping on Robson Street. Excellent ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. Korean shaved ice desserts at Snowy Village.
Canada’s first aboriginal arts and culture hotel, located on the edge of the Gastown district, has 18 distinctive guest rooms in an early-20th-century brick Victorian building, where local aboriginal artists decorated each room in a one-of-a-kind style. Poems and pencil drawings dance across the walls of the Poem Suite, while in the Moon Suite, a golden moon face on the ceiling watches over the bed below. Rates include Wi-Fi and phone calls, and rooms are stocked with bath products that an aboriginal-owned company created. An added benefit: Profits from the hotel help subsidize housing for First Nations artists.
What’s Nearby: Gastown shops and restaurants. Chinatown and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Rogers Arena and B.C. Place.
If you like your hotel rooms bland and beige, The Opus isn’t for you. The guest rooms at this Yaletown hotel are decorated in a range of vivid colors — we’re talking magenta, lime green, and vibrant orange. In many of the bathrooms, there’s a window into the bedroom, while in others, the bathrooms have a wall of windows facing the outside of the building. Don’t be shy! The rooms come with all sorts of high-tech toys, from flat-screen TVs, to iPod clock radios, to iPads that you can use during your stay, and you’re just steps from the neighborhood’s restaurants, cafes, and bars.
What’s Nearby: Yaletown shopping. The False Creek Seawall for strolling or cycling. Good coffee and almond croissants at Small Victory Bakery. Fresh seafood at casual WildTale Coastal Grill.
The Fairmont brand has four hotels in the Vancouver area, but my hands-down favorite is the newest: the deluxe Fairmont Pacific Rim. The high-tech Asian-inspired lodging has a large contemporary art collection, and the best of the spacious 377 guest rooms have amazing city or harbor views. Other amenities include Stearns & Foster beds with Italian linens and marble bath rooms with deep soaker tubs. Head for the rooftop to relax around the tucked-away swimming pool or book a day of relaxation in the hotel spa.
What’s Nearby: The Vancouver Convention Centre. Excellent pizza and creative veggie plates at Nightingale. Vancouver’s best gelato at Bella Gelateria.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Downtown Vancouver, Burrard Hotel, Skwachàys Lodge, and Fairmont Pacific Rim photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Other photos courtesy of the hotels.