I’ve spent a lot of time in this west coast city lately, and can now confidently say I have some favourites that I would highly recommend. If you’ve ever visited Vancouver, you know what I mean when I say that it truly offers the best of both worlds – city life surrounded by the great outdoors. This is the kind place where you can go snowboarding or skiing on some of the most epic mountains in the world, and take a dip in the ocean, or go fishing – all in the same day. Because there’s so much diversity and wonderful things to do, you’re sure to have fun no matter what you chose to explore, however, I’m a big believer in a curated, tried, true and tested guide….so here it is!
Where to stay – If you are in the position to splurge and enjoy the finer things in life, my new favourite hotel is Rosewood Hotel Georgia, by far. I recently stayed there for a couple of nights and every detail and want was tended to. I’ve spent my whole life staying in hotels around the world and only a few hold a candle to Hotel Georgia when it comes to the overall attention to details, customer satisfaction and overall ambiance (and none of those other few are in Canada).
The building is old and historical, in prime location (across the street from the main mall in the city, and a couple of minutes walk to the waterfront boardwalk) and has recently undergone a complete renovation, making it a gorgeous and comfortable place to stay. The staff is so on point when it comes to making their guests happy, that more than once they anticipated my needs before I even thought to ask. Examples: they made note of my dog’s name when I checked in, immediately asked if I needed a dog bed and bowl, then followed up on if she was having all her needs met; I used half the bath salts the first afternoon and by the time I came back to my room after turn down service, the salts were topped up; I showed up with a dress on a hanger but no protective cover and by that evening, they had placed a garment bag in the closet next to my dress. I could go on and on about the stay and how enjoyable it was, but it’s probably best to leave some of it for you to experience yourself!
If Hotel Georgia is out of your price range, a good, clean and interesting option is Skwachàys (pronounced skwatch-eyes) Lodge. It’s a relatively new, Aboriginal owned boutique hotel and gallery.
Where to eat –
Hawksworth is rated one of the top restaurants in the country, and it takes just one glorious meal to see why. It’s in the Hotel Georgia, is ingredient driven and the ambiance is ultra sexy.
Pure Bread is one of my go to bakeries. A favourite is the raspberry cheesecake brownie (paired nicely with a smooth latté).
Nightingale – the best mix of big city ambiance with affordable but sophisticated and simply delicious dishes. Great for lunch meetings, girlfriend catch ups, family gatherings – basically any reason to dine.
Field and Social – ultra healthy salads, good for a quick lunch.
Where to shop –
Want Apothecary on Granville street is curated mostly of items from France and is full of gems.
Pacific Centre in the heart of the city has many good brands, and the luxury department store Holt Renfrew.
Kit and Ace. A Canadian company with affordable luxury items like cashmere blankets – great for gifts.
How to get fresh air and Have fun –
Bonchovy Fishing Charters is based right in the city and will put you on salmon with the Vancouver skyline in the background.
Hike The Chief. Just a 45 minute drive from the city, the Chief trail in Squamish is pretty challenging while still easy enough to do as a day trip, and the view is insanely beautiful.
Stanley Park is arguably Canada’s most well known park, and for a reason – it’s a huge space full of old trees, beautiful native art, and the pacific borders most of it.
Where to go out a night –
Prohibition. Also part of the Hotel Georgia property, this underground bar is swanky, sexy and staffed with knowledgable bartenders who make really delicious cocktails. Great place for any kind of group: couples, friends, co-workers.
And lastly…somewhat of a random recommendation – if you want to get a good sweat in after you’ve eaten and drank to your little heart’s content, Eastwood Cycle is a spin studio with a very cool and relaxed environment. The classes are led by motivating teachers who play awesome playlists with the lights turned down low so you can really get into the zone.
My last piece of advice for your stay in Vancouver is to bring lots of layers and clothing options. As is evident, the city offers some of the best in accommodations and dining as well as natural beauty that you’ll want to explore, so come prepared and have fun!