Vancouver, British Columbia is known as the City of Glass and itís an apt moniker for such a gorgeous sparkling, modern metropolis. All those glass buildings give the city a futuristic look. Clean and glamorous, Vancouverís setting, amid mountains and sea, keeps it all down to earth. When you are near the waterfront, it looks like a Pacific Northwestern urban paradise.
Vancouver has a thriving downtown, with 600,000 residents living in the downtown core. When you are staying downtown, you can almost feel like a Vancouverite as you walk along the waterfront, sea wall, and Stanley Park with the locals. There are little grocery stores and specialty shops where you can find picnic goods to take to the park and the food scene is spectacular, with award winning restaurants galore. Public transportation is excellent and it’s easy to get around. It’s especially fun to take water taxis, which you can hop to Granville Island. The city is worthy of many visits and has numerous accommodation options for the luxe crowd. Here are four luxury hotels to consider for your next trip to Vancouver.
High tech and glam, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is a sexy hotel. From the shiny glass exterior to the happening lobby to giant marble bathtubs for languishing, the Pacific Rim offers state of the art contemporary luxury. Youíll find iPads in your room, televisions integrated into your bathroom mirrors, automated lighting and modern art.
On the upgraded Fairmont Gold level, you can take in sweeping harbor views from the Gold Room while enjoying breakfast in the morning and hors díoeuvres in the evening. A friendly staff is happy to help with planning activities.
The Lobby Lounge and RawBar offers craft cocktails and excellent sushi under cool lights that display song lyrics on your table. Itís a modern atmosphere set in the perfect location near the convention center and Stanley Park. Like other Fairmonts, the Pacific Rim has bicycles that you can use to ride around the park. Rooms have backlit art and luxe furnishings.
The Willow Stream Spa at the Pacific Rim is especially wonderful with a rooftop seating area that has fire pits and meditation pods. It fosters a certain social accessibility if you wanted to have a spa day with friends, but it also provides seclusion for those seeking solitude and quiet. The city views from the roof are fabulous, the treatment rooms are soothingly dark and it really feels like an urban oasis.
Named after author James Hiltonís utopia in Lost Horizon, the AAA five diamond luxury hotel that is Shangri-La offers a quiet hideaway in a busy city. Starting with the underground discreet entrance often used by the famous to arrive unnoticed, to the transformative spa and rooftop pool, you get a sense of respite from a busy world while being right in the middle of it. The downtown location offers easy access to sights and excellent restaurants. Rooms are elegant with floor to ceiling windows, hues of brown and gold, and city views of modern glassy high rise architecture.
Escape to Chi Spa which transports you to Asia offering various treatments inspired by different regions. The atmosphere is dimmed and soothing. The concept at Chi Spa is that treatment rooms are self contained with a private shower, restroom and seating area with a fireplace. The spa uses organic body products and aims to honor and stimulate the universal life force of Chi. Sense of Adventure treatments are a special series focused on healing techniques from various parts of Asia, like the Ayurvedic Podikkizhi Massage which uses coconut stems and oils to detoxify and relax the body.
Market, the hotelís restaurant, is a creation by celebrity chef Jean-Georges†Vongerichten. Food is market-fresh (hence the name) and infused with exquisite international flavors like galangal root and Thai Basil. Interesting food combinations like Halibut and apples surprise and delight while Market’s menu features classic Jean-Georges dishes along with seasonal specialties.†Famous for their signature Truffle Pizza and Lava Cake, Market also offers different menus for those consuming a vegetarian, gluten free or vegan diet.
Throughout the hotel, youíll find Asian art on display like calligraphy and a beautiful framed antique Kimono. There are two lobbiesóthe more secluded lower level lobby and a large open street level lobby with a cozy fireplace and crystal chandeliers. Right outside the hotel is Urban Fare, a local grocery chain with a upscale aesthetic that is fun to browse for Canadian and Pacific Northwestern specialties. Itís particularly nice for families to be next door to a place to grab sundries and snacks for sightseeing, but try not to overdo it because Vancouver is exploding with fabulous restaurants and you will need your appetite.
Located directly on the water, in the east convention center building atop Canada Place downtown, Pan Pacific is extremely popular with cruise ship passengers and those attending conventions. Itís the perfect choice for both cruisers and business people. If you are going on a cruise, the hotel will even transfer your luggage for you.
A heated outdoor salt water rooftop swimming pool on the 8th floor offers beautiful views of the harbor, and is large enough for swimming laps. Spa Utopia Health and Wellness Center, with its Ancient Roman theme, offers advanced therapeutic massage and even chiropractic treatments so you can feel great on your trip. As part of your relaxation agenda, head to the Cascades Lounge for signature craft cocktails and excellent crab cakes.
Try to stay in a Harbor View Room on the Pan Pacific Club floor where you will enjoy amazing views along with breakfast, snacks, evening drinks and hors d’oeuvres. A friendly and knowledgeable staff is there to see to your every need.
If only every airport had a luxury hotel. The Fairmont Airport is located directly inside the Vancouver Airport, so all you have to do the day of your flight, is walk to security and then your gate, itís that easy.
The Airport Fairmont has a Gold Floor where you can enjoy breakfast, snacks (like airplane shaped cookies) and appetizers while watching planes take off and land from gigantic floor to ceiling windows. Rooms facing runways have telescopes to thrill aviation geeks. You would think there would be some noise, but the soundproofing is excellent and you really donít hear the planes.
A spacious gym overlooks the inside of the airport, so you can people-watch while youíre on the treadmill.† Thereís even a small pool that is actually a wave propulsion fitness poolóthe aquatic version of a treadmill. This airport Fairmont allows you to head to your flight relaxed and refreshed and begin your trip on a luxurious note.
Leah DeAngelis is Editor of Best Travel Gear.