Lobby at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, Canada

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Of the three worthy Fairmont hotels in Vancouver, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is the show-stopper. Fairmont’s newest property opened in 2010 in a high-rise tower (the top floors are luxury residences) across from the new Canada Place Convention Centre with its “green” living roof and just a few steps from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal, making it incredibly convenient if you’re taking an Alaska cruise. The Pacific Rim is far more luxurious than the nearby Fairmont Waterfront and eschews the traditional ambience of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver downtown. It’s as up-to-date as a hotel can be, with all the amenities you could possibly want, including an outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a spa. It has a sleek, glamorous quality but the staff couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful.

The glam-factor hits you when you enter the dramatic, marble-clad lobby with its huge windows and long, low, central fireplace surrounded by invitingly comfortable sofas and chairs. A bar-lounge and the new Raw Bar, serving fabulously fresh sushi and sashimi, anchors one end of the lobby. The lounge becomes a happening scene on summer nights and weekends, with live local bands and performers. Giovane Café and Wine Bar, the hotel’s Italian-inspired cafe/bakery/deli, is a quiet, casual spot for breakfast, lunch, coffee and pastries and has a wonderful gourmet-food market.

The rooms at the Fairmont Pacific Rim are large, airy (though you can’t open the windows) and beautifully designed, with superbly crafted finishes of marble and American walnut, floor-to-ceiling windows, desks with built-in outlets and iPads, great beds, and evening turn-down service. For a special experience, book one of the suites with a freestanding Japanese-style soaking tub that looks out over Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains, or one of the suites with a balcony and outdoor fireplace. You can upgrade to the Fairmont Gold level, a hotel within the hotel, with complimentary breakfast and afternoon hors ‘d oeuvres served in a special 20th floor lounge with its own staff.

On the sixth floor there is a large outdoor pool and bar-cabana. The Fairmont’s signature Willow Stream Spa offers a complete menu of pampering treatments, and the health club has every kind of equipment you could want.

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Executive Suite at Opus Hotel, Vancouver, Canada

Opus Hotel

If you want to stay in a hip, happening, luxury boutique hotel, try the Opus. It’s the only hotel in Yaletown, the trendiest urban area for shopping, nightlife, and dining. The Canada Line subway from the airport stops directly across the street from the hotel, the False Creek waterfront with water-taxi service to Granville Island is just two blocks away, and all the main sights in Vancouver are within walking distance.

The lobby and adjacent lounge look like a retro-moderne stage set, with sheer hanging fabrics, dramatic lighting and contemporary furniture in bold colors. The rooms, all freshly redone, are available in five different layouts, each with its own colors and style (the glowing room colors are eye candy if you’re tired of tepid hotel interiors). The furnishings are stylish and comfortable. Bathrooms are fitted with high-design sinks, soaker tubs or roomy showers (or both), with L’Occitaine toiletries.

The Opus offers some good urban amenities, such as iPads in every room (you can take it with you around the city), free bikes (a real plus in bike-friendly Vancouver), and pet-friendly rooms.

The cool Opus Bar serves an international tapas menu and on weekends becomes one of Yaletown’s see-and-be-seen scenes. (Be forewarned: This area of Yaletown is “club central”, and can be noisy until the wee hours, so book a Courtyard Room if you don’t want to be disturbed.) Opus’s top-notch restaurant, Elixir serves modern French bistro food.

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Lounge at Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver, Canada

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

For decades, the Hotel Georgia was one of Vancouver’s prime downtown hotels, attracting the likes of Elvis Presley, Katherine Hepburn, and Nat “King” Cole. Then it closed and sat like a forgotten star waiting for a comeback. That happened when the developers of a new luxury condominium tower next door decided to restore the lovely old hotel to its former glory—with the addition of all the modern amenities and technology that guests look for today. The new Rosewood Hotel Georgia re-opened in 2011 and is back on the charts as one of Vancouver’s top hotels.

The ornate lobby, with its Italian marble floors and walls of mahogany, shows off the original fixtures and finishes from the 1920s, when the hotel first opened. During the $120 million restoration, the hotel doubled the size of the rooms and suites and installed luxuriously large bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, walk-in showers with four shower heads, double vanities and heated floors. The furnishings throughout are comfortable, contemporary takes on the Art Deco style that was the hotel’s hallmark. Works from one of British Columbia’s largest collections of Canadian art hang in the rooms and public spaces. Presley fans can rent the suite where the King stayed on his visit to Vancouver, and there are four special penthouse suites with large outdoor patios overlooking the city.

Reflections, the hotel’s rooftop patio lounge, is a popular spot for cocktails and tapas. You’ll also find a state-of-the-art fitness center; a large, indoor, saltwater pool; and a signature Rosewood spa. Hawksworth, the new, award-winning restaurant by Chef David Hawksworth, adjoins the hotel and can be entered through the hotel lobby.

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Lobby at Wedgewood Hotel, Vancouver, Canada

Wedgewood Hotel

If you’re looking for a small, romantic, sophisticated hotel with spacious rooms, a fine restaurant, a full-service spa, and a central downtown location, you can’t do any better than the Wedgewood. Independently owned by Greek-born Eleni Skalbania, whose elegant personal touch is evident throughout, the Wedgewood is the only Vancouver member of the Relais & Chateaux group.

The Wedgewood is located on busy Hornby, directly across from the B.C. Law Courts and close to trendy Robson, but it does not broadcast its presence to the street. It’s discreet, discerning and low-key, with blue, French-style awnings. Enter the lobby and you enter a world that looks like a charming European inn with flowers, antiques and an understated elegance. This is the magic of good taste and camouflage, for the hotel occupies a 14-story building dating from the 1960s.The lobby opens onto Bacchus, the hotel’s cocooning, wood-paneled lounge and restaurant serving Modern French cuisine. With windows that open onto Hornby Street, elegant décor and live piano music in the evenings, Bacchus has long been a favorite spot for quiet cocktails and dinner.

The rooms at the Wedgewood are spacious and have private balconies (the best views are those facing the Vancouver Art Gallery and Law Court). Furnishings and antiques are of the highest quality, and the marble-clad bathrooms with deep soaker tubs and separate walk-in Roman showers are simply the best.

For something even more spacious and special, book one of the four penthouses with large garden terraces and fireplaces.

The award-winning Wedgewood also features a small but well-equipped health club and a spa that features Epicuren skin care products.

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Exterior View -  Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina, Vancouver, Canada

Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina

This is Vancouver’s only resort hotel with its own marina, and the views from all but a handful of its rooms are mesmerizing. The Bayshore overlooks Coal Harbour and Stanley Park on one side, and Burrard Inlet and the city on the other. The hotel is occupies two buildings, the original low-rise from 1961 and a newer tower, with a giant pool, restaurant, and conference center between them.

The enormous glass-walled and marble-paved lobby is an airy wow, and the furnishings and décor throughout provide an upscale resort ambience, but don’t expect any individualist surprises in this enormous resort/convention hotel. All the rooms received a makeover in 2009 with comfortable, casual, contemporary West Coast furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows that open wide to views of Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, or the city skyline. For a little more room and a better view, book a Deluxe Tower Room with a balcony. The bathrooms in both buildings are nicely finished but fairly small, with tub/shower combinations (one or the other in the Deluxe Tower rooms). All in all, you’ll find the professionalism, service and quality that you’d expect to find in a high-end Westin property.

A good fitness center and a Vida spa is part of the complex, and the huge outdoor pool makes the hotel a fave with families.

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