Your Guide to Vancouver: Where to Stay, What to Do and Where to Eat

The top hotels, things to do and restaurants if you love culture, wellness, luxury or retro chic.
 

Virtuous Pie in Vancouver, photo by Jeremy Wong

Virtuous Pie, photo by Jeremy Wong

Few cities serve up mountains and beaches as well as Vancouver, but there’s more to this dynamic city than just its natural delights. Whether your travel style leans toward the active or inqusitive, luxurious or retro, this city delivers.

Where to Stay 

Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver, photo by Craig Minielly/Aura Photographics

Skwachàys Lodge, photo by Craig Minielly/Aura Photographics

For cultural explorers: Skwachàys Lodge

The 18 suites, common areas and sweat lodge at the Skwachàys Lodge are styled by Indigenous artists, offering a unique luxury experience on the outskirts of Chinatown. Your stay at the lodge, or purchases from the onsite fair-trade gallery, go towards supporting the Vancouver Native Housing Society.

skwachays.com

For wellness seekers: The Westin Bayshore

The Westin Bayshore is just steps away from Stanley Park, and lends guests the equipment needed to run or bike around its 400 hectares. Liquid Yoga [float yoga] is also offered in the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools, while the SuperFoodsRX program, available from room service, offers a host of tasty and healthy dining options for guests.

marriott.com

For luxury lovers: Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver 

The glamorous Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver is where the likes of George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey stay when they’re in town. The lavish CHI, The Spa— with its Asian-inspired treatments—is heavenly, while MARKET restaurant by Jean-Georges incorporates seasonal ingredients in its dishes.

shangri-la.com

For retro aficionados: The Burrard 

The neon lights of The Burrard have been a city landmark for more than 60 years, and a renovation has brought the former motor lodge back to its original glory. The hotel’s 72 rooms are outfitted with eclectic art and updated amenities, and there’s a tropical courtyard that looks like it’s been dropped in from California.

theburrard.com

 

What to Do 

SKY Helicopters in Vancouver

Photo courtesy of SKY Helicopters

For cultural explorers: Do a Talking Trees walking tour through Stanley Park

Learn part of the city’s Indigenous history on a Talking Trees walking tour through Stanley Park. An interpreter from Talaysay Tours will teach you how plants were harvested and used by the Squamish people, and you will hear stories about how they lived harmoniously on this still-unceded land.

talaysay.com

For wellness seekers: Take a dance class with RSVP 33

Bust a move like nobody’s watching at a Beyoncé dance class with RSVP 33, which has a downtown and an Olympic Village location. Beginners are always welcome as the classes are all about having fun. Not into Queen Bey? It offers a 2000s-dance music class and another featuring current popular music.

rsvp33.com

For luxury lovers: Take a helicopter tour with SKY Helicopters

Soar above the city with SKY Helicopters. A pilot takes you on a narrated flight over the Coast Mountains and alpine lakes before landing at a remote backcountry spot so you can take in and photograph the pristine views. Or, upgrade your package and take a professional photographer along with you.

skyhelicopters.ca

For retro aficionados: Play old-school games at Back and Forth Bar

Rent a ping pong table and show off your amazing topspin or drop shot at Back and Forth Bar in Gastown—a laid-back place complete with 1990s-chic decor. An old-school Nintendo console, along with cheap beer and snacks (think popcorn and chips) is sure to take some visitors back to their university or college days.

backandforthbar.com

 

Where to Eat

Rumpus Room in Vancouver, photo by Victoria Black

Rumpus Room, photo by Victoria Black

For cultural explorers: Mr. Bannock food truck

Use the Street Food app to find the Mr. Bannock food truck. Chef Paul Natrall of the Squamish Nation from North Vancouver offers fusion-Indigenous cuisine: juniper berry dry-rubbed chicken in bannock waffles, bannock with cinnamon and brown sugar, and his award-winning Indian tacos.

mrbannock.com

For wellness seekers: Virtuous Pie

Veggie lovers and carnivores alike shouldn’t miss the vegan pizzas at trendy Virtuous Pie in Chinatown—go for the Stranger Wings pie, made with spicy buffalo cauliflower, crisp fried shallots and a blue cheese drizzle. For dessert, try one of the plant-based ice creams in flavours such as key lime pie and bourbon vanilla.

virtuouspie.com

For luxury lovers: Hawksworth Restaurant

Hawksworth Restaurant is the city’s top elegant dining destination, serving up unforgettable meals that focus on the best and freshest ingredients. Go for the seven-course B.C. Journey Menu and let chef de cuisine Quinton Bennett showcase his culinary talents as you savour every sublime bite.

hawksworthrestaurant.com

For retro aficionados: Rumpus Room

At the newly reopened Rumpus Room, retro cocktails rule and the gourmet corn dogs, peanut butter burgers and deep-fried pickles are perfection. The vintage decor is reminiscent of a 1970s and 1980s living room, while the friendly staff make this a fun place to hang for an evening.

rumpusroom.ca

 

[This story appears in the November 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]