Hello, Miami. Er, make that Vancouver.
If you think that palm trees don’t grow in Canada, then you haven’t hung out in the courtyard at The Burrard Hotel, an old-time 1950s motor lodge in downtown Vancouver that’s been reborn as a cool, retro boutique hotel. Here’s the scoop.
Back in 1956 when The Burrard was built, Vancouver’s downtown streets weren’t lined with glass-and-steel towers. These days, skyscrapers loom over this four-story lodging, which has restored its cool mid-century modern facade and renovated its 72 guest rooms. And fortunately, the hotel’s corner location and its courtyard garden protect this low-rise from high-rise shadows.
In fact, the courtyard, where you can lounge with a coffee or cold drink in mild weather, is one of the hotel’s best features, filled with greenery and protected from the city’s hum.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
With doors painted in Miami-like turquoise and sunny yellow, the guest rooms surround the courtyard, along sheltered outdoor hallways.
While the rooms are small and fairly basic, they’ve got all the required boutique motel amenities, including flat-screen TVs, mini fridges, and Nespresso machines. You can choose from one king, one queen, or two double bed configurations, all with crisp white bedding and comfortable pillow-top mattresses. Room are stocked with bottled water and a little bag of welcome candies.
Most guests don’t seem to mind the compact room sizes either. According to general manager Darren Simpson, many guests use The Burrard as a fun, moderately-priced base for exploring the city and don’t end up spending much time in their rooms. The hotel’s location is within walking distance of most downtown attractions and plenty of restaurants. You can borrow a cool cruiser bike (free to guests) to get around on two wheels; a bike path passes directly beside the hotel.
Although sound does travel, rooms facing the courtyard are generally quieter than those fronting busy Burrard Street at the front of the building.
Like the guest rooms, the bathrooms are modern but compact. The sinks are tiny enough that you have to be careful not to splash all over the floor when you wash your face. Yet like the bedrooms, they’ve got everything you need, from eco-friendly dispensers of shampoos, hair conditioner, and soap, to an ample supply of towels.
And while there’s no actual swimming pool — just this cute way to encourage guests to reuse their towels — you can walk to the city-run Vancouver Aquatic Centre, with a 50-meter pool, hot tub, and sauna, in about ten minutes. Staff will also give you a pass to a nearby fitness club if you want a gym workout.
Double room rates at The Burrard start at CAD$179/night, including Wi-Fi and North American phone calls, with summer rates averaging $259-289. Parking is available for $28 per night, although with hotel’s central location, you don’t really need a car. You can also compare rates and book through Expedia or Travelocity.
Particularly if you just want to hang out under the palm trees.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books Moon Handbooks: Ontario (now available in a new 2nd edition) and Living Abroad in Canada. Her latest book, Moon Vancouver and Canadian Rockies Road Trip, will be published in 2016. Top photo courtesy of The Burrard Hotel. Other photos © Carolyn B. Heller. The Burrard Hotel hosted my stay for review purposes.