Vancouver is a gleaming modernist jewel just 30 minutes from the ski fields that boom in winter and bordered by beaches that become the drawcard in summer. Fittingly, residents here love the great outdoors, taking advantage of Vancouver’s natural assets to hike, swim, kayak and hit the slopes according to the season. There are many options for accommodation in this city, but the best places can be found clustered around the city’s downtown area. Here are our picks.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
The Fairmont Hotel is the grande dame of Vancouver hotels, its grandiose 17-storey façade towering over the city from West Georgia Street. Built in 1939, the establishment’s opulent interiors recall a bygone era of dressing for dinner and cocktail hour. Today, the dress code is a little more casual (though no less chic) at the hotel’s charming Notch8 restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as evening tipples.
The hotel is also home to the luxurious Absolute Spa – try the Heaven From Head to Toe massage and facial offering for instant zen – as well as the Fairmont Gold experience, which offers guests a personal concierge and private access to the hotel (for when you want to fly under the radar). Still, it could be argued that the Fairmont’s strongest selling point is that it has “canine ambassadors” – Ella and Elly are Labrador retrievers that you can pat and greet with a handshake as you come and go.
Situated in buzzy Yaletown, Opus features a bold aesthetic that’s evident as soon as you step into the lobby – it’s awash with rich fabrics in moody shades of fuchsia and deep purple. All of the rooms here come complete with ergonomic designer chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows and a spa bathroom with heated floor (luxe lovers will appreciate knowing that the toiletries are courtesy of cult beauty brand Malin+Goetz and bathrobes are by Italian label Frette).
Downstairs, Chef Lucais Syme serves up 36-hour-fermented sourdough pizza at Capo Restaurant, while the Spritz bar offers a wide range of delicious tipples including six variations on the venue's namesake cocktail – our pick is the Sebenico Spritz which features black fig infused martini dry, Havana 7-year rum and plenty of bubbles.
Within walking distance of Coal Harbour’s waterfront, the Loden draws on soothing neutral hues and natural materials to deliver a calming escape from Vancouver’s many recreational offerings. Guests keen to explore the city are offered complimentary bikes and a free car service to nearby areas, while those looking to keep fitness on the agenda can make use of the 24-hour gym, or make use of the yoga mats available in every room and the 24-hour yoga channel.
The hotel is big on little touches: four-legged friends are welcomed with pet beds and house-made doggie biscuits, while travellers who find themselves away from home for the holidays will love that a Christmas tree is added to every room in the month of December. Happy holidays, indeed.