The Canadian coastal town of Tofino has hotels that are posh, hotels that cater to adventurers, and plenty of family-friendly beachfront lodgings. Now Tofino has a hotel that’s specifically designed for fun.
Here’s the scoop:
Hotel Zed Tofino opened in late August (2020) on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The property is set on the inlet side of the main coastal highway that connects the town of Tofino with the beaches laid out to the south. It’s within walking distance of Chesterman Beach and of the small shopping complex that houses Beaches Grocery, Tacofino, Chocolate Tofino, and other businesses.
The Tofino property is the third Hotel Zed to open in British Columbia. There’s a Zed in Victoria, B.C.’s capital city, and another Hotel Zed in Kelowna, in the Okanagan wine region.
You can’t miss Hotel Zed Tofino as you drive up the highway. A VW bus painted bright fuchsia, sitting at the end of the driveway, serves as the hotel’s sign, and the building itself is a rainbow of vivid yellows, oranges, reds, greens, and blues.
Facilities and Services
The fun starts as soon as you enter the building. The lobby at Hotel Zed Tofino is designed like a sunken living room circa 1970, with bench-style seating arrayed around a conversation pit, which is covered with retro green shag carpeting.
The hotel has created a colorful bike path the runs directly through the lobby. It connects to Tofino’s Multi-Use Path, a walking and cycling pathway that continues north to town and south toward the beaches. And yes, bikes, scooters, joggers, and walkers do make their way right through the hotel.
Also in the lobby is a small “disco” which guests can book for private parties or (in the post COVID era) for karaoke. There’s currently no charge to guests who want to use the space.
The hotel is planning to open a restaurant off the lobby, tentatively scheduled for a 2021 launch. At the moment, there’s no food service on property.
Perhaps the most unique space at Hotel Zen Tofino is the psychic’s den, set behind beaded curtains off the lobby. The hotel has arranged with a local psychic to offer readings (again, post-COVID). In the meantime, guests can book the space for Zoom meetings or for a little private time with your significant other.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
The three-story hotel has 58 guest rooms, with an additional 30+ rooms under construction in a second building. You can choose from rooms with one queen, one king, or two queen beds. All are equipped with mini-fridges, French press coffeemakers and tea kettles, and handmade mugs created by Tofino ceramics artist Daniela Petosa.
The front desk gives you ground coffee from Tofino’s Rhino Coffeehouse, as well as little jars of milk or cream. Housekeeping staff will clean and replace your coffee pot if you place it outside your room, and you can pick up more coffee at the reception desk. The hotel has stopped daily housekeeping service due to COVID-19, so staff won’t enter your room during your stay.
Rooms are decorated in deep browns with beige and orange accents. All have reading lamps, electrical outlets, and charging ports beside the beds. Wi-Fi, which is included in the rates, worked well throughout the property. Each room also has a retro rotary phone, as well as a 49-inch TV.
A nice touch: the room lights are on dimmer switches — the better to create the mood for fun.
The modern bathrooms are designed as separate cubicles for the toilet and the shower, with the sink set in a large vanity in the entryway.
The benefits of this arrangement are that one person can easily be showering while the other is using the toilet or sink area. The drawback — if one of you needs to be at the sink while the other is trying to sleep — is that the light over the vanity shines directly onto the bed and there’s no door you can close. Consider packing an eye mask if you and your companion don’t wake up on similar schedules.
It’s not all fun and games at Hotel Zed Tofino, though. Tofino is located on the traditional lands of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, and Hotel Zed wants you to know about the region’s Indigenous history and culture.
The hotel has joined the Tribal Parks Allies, a group of Tofino-area businesses and organizations working to support the Tla-o-qui-aht in protecting their land and culture and helping ensure the region’s sustainable future. Hotel Zed Tofino is donating 1% of guests’ bills to the Tribal Parks Allies Program.
The hotel also commissioned a booklet, Respect in the Garden, that will (post-COVID) be placed in all the guest rooms, detailing the story of the local anti-logging protests in the 1980s and ’90. Dubbed the “War in the Woods,” these protests, which led to one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, eventually restricted logging throughout the region.
What’s the connection between the hotel and Indigenous land use? We all need to help protect western Canada’s rainforest, its Pacific coast, and its Indigenous communities and places, if we want to share these landscapes for our own enjoyment.
Tofino’s most fun hotel has a social conscience, too.
Hotel Zed Tofino Rates
Double room rates at Hotel Zed Tofino start at CAD$149 per night in the winter low season — known as “storm watching season” during the west coast’s rainy winters — and at CAD$279 in the spring, summer, and fall. You can go to Hotels.com to compare rates.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Hotel Zed Tofino, in partnership with Tourism Tofino and Destination British Columbia, arranged my stay for review purposes.