Vancouver is a study in contrasts. An ultra-modern downtown space that preserves in some quarters the brick buildings and gaslight of its modest nineteenth century origins; Canada’s third-largest metropolitan area set between the emerald archipelagos of Vancouver Bay and the snowcapped mountains of the Pacific Ranges; a place of pubs playing hockey on flatscreen televisions and sushi bars offering some of the best sashimi you will find in North America. Of course, the joy of Vancouver is that these opposites can be immediately appreciated in one place. And, fortunately for the visitor to this spectacular city, hotels like the Fairmont Waterfront have capitalized on these opposite qualities.
My arrival in Vancouver was a series of firsts: first time in Canada, first time visiting Vancouver, my first time exploring an area most Americans call the Pacific Northwest. I had been warned about the rain, the London-esque fog, and had been told by nearly everyone that they all wished they could live in this rainy, foggy wonderland permanently. It was also my first time taking Vancouver’s public transport system, which was just as easy and clean as the website promised. After a forty-five minute train ride from the airport, I found myself just a block from the Fairmont Waterfront.
A high-rise of glass overlooking the Pacific, the Fairmont is conveniently located just south of Vancouver’s Gastown district. The city’s famous waterfront and Stanley Park are within walking distance, and the Convention Center is just a stone’s throw away. Guests will also appreciate how insular the hotel feels. Walking into the lobby, guests are greeted by a spacious hall and a large, antique map of British Columbia. The doormen and doorwomen are exceptionally friendly, and the hotel restaurant offers excellent cuisine, cocktails, and even live music on weekend evenings.
The rooms are also a delight. Spacious and with modern décor, they manage to feel cozy but also allow enough space for a working couple. My husband and I were both visiting for business, and though we had both brought backpacks, laptops, and innumerable notepads, we were able to spread out and work without bumping elbows (he’s a righty, and I’m a lefty, a condition of our relationship that becomes a problem more often than it should!). The bathrooms are decadent, featuring a large shower, all the amenities, and bathroom tools for those who like to indulge (guilty). The rooms also boast excellent views of the city and of the Pacific: our room looked south, and it was remarkable to watch the city lights in the evening.
During my brief stay in the Fairmont Waterfront, I was able to enjoy some of the best ramen and Japanese plate foods I’ve ever tried. Gastown is full of excellent eateries, pubs, and nightclubs, and reminded me a bit of San Diego’s own Gaslamp District. Walking along the waterfront, visitors will also notice the placards detailing the history and people who contributed to modern Vancouver. There are placards about the First Nations people who have inhabited this region for millennia, the loggers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs who established the city, as well as placards that tell the story of the rise and fall of industries over the last century.
I also had the unique pleasure of taking a seaplane to Vancouver Island. The wharf was located (you guessed it) just a block from the Fairmount Waterfront, and the flight was a short ninety minutes. Once on Vancouver Island, I walked through the quaint British architecture of Victoria, tried some of the best tea of my life, and was honored with a personal walkthrough of the Victoria Museum. And then I took another short flight back to Vancouver, and a short walk back to the Fairmount Waterfront, where I enjoyed a one-of-kind cocktail with my husband as a musician sang beautiful renditions of American folk music. It just doesn’t get any better when opposites attract.
The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
900 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5, Canada
Article by Kristin Winet; photographs courtesy of the Fairmont Waterfront.