Hidden among the glass towers of downtown Vancouver is Canada’s finest collection of boutique hotels. If you’re a traveler looking for unique stays with a personal touch, Vancouver was made for you. Each of the city’s boutique hotels work to outcompete the others in luxury and complimentary perks, winning major awards in the process.
Expect creative décor and exceptional restaurants and services that go above and beyond in these boutique hotels with under 150 rooms. Many of the perks – everything from free bikes and dog-walking maps to guided cycling and hiking tours – are designed for looking to get outside.
Here’s our lineup of the city’s eight best boutique hotels for travelers living an active lifestyle who nonetheless appreciate more than a little pampering.
8 Coolest Boutique Hotels in Downtown Vancouver
The St. Regis Hotel
The Business Travelers’ Classic
Over a century ago in 1913, the St. Regis opened its doors. It was the project of one man, P. Roberts, bent on building a hotel for his wife Mary as a business travelers’ home away from home. As the co-owner of a real estate and loan company, Roberts had the means to employ top architects and construction companies, the latter being E. J. Ryan, an experienced Canadian builder of hotels. Since its founding, the St. Regis has had a colorful history. In the 40’s, for example, it owned a hockey team, the Vancouver St. Regis.
More recently in 2009, the St. Regis underwent an $11 million renovation, restoring it to the status of a top business travelers’ hotel with special rates and meeting space arrangements on and off-site for small to medium groups. The six-story classic remains a landmark hotel in the downtown core on Dunsmuir Street, partly because all 65 rooms are stripped and refurbished annually to ensure the hotel is fresh and ready all year long for its guests.
Pampering for Guests and Pets
Those who consider pets as part of the family will appreciate the complimentary pooch perks at Hotel BLU – a treat upon arrival, a food and water set and a soft bed – and the proximity of the hotel to Vancouver’s best pet exercise locations like the Seawall and several designated s like Coopers, Emery Barnes and Andy Livingstone within a few blocks.
Guests will feel just as pampered as their pets with Hotel BLU’s complimentary in-room aromatherapy program. The hotel makes it easy to head out to explore the neighborhood on one of the bikes or via their shuttle service. But it’ll be just as tempting to stay in and enjoy traditional Japanese dishes at Black Rice Restaurant or seafood with a drink at the Fanny Bay Oyster Bar and buffet breakfast at the Azure Lounge. Special rooms like the New York-style loft with king-size bed, 20-foot ceilings and terraces make it even more difficult to decide between staying in and exploring the city.
King of Complimentary
As amenities go, the Loden Hotel’s cycling program is second to none. It starts with their provision of complementary and comfortably ergonomic Electra-Townie bikes – they come with helmets, maps, and water – for exploring the quiet West End on a one-way street and beyond to all of Vancouver’s downtown attractions. It’s the Loden’s partnership with Musette Tours that makes this hotel a stand-out. Musette experts lead Loden guests of all fitness levels on challenging rides using state-of-the-art bikes and on hikes to locations with stunning views. For the truly adventurous, try the Trekking After Dark guided hike.
There’s a lot more to the Loden’s complimentary offerings. It’s a pet-friendly hotel – luxurious pet beds, homemade baked biscuits, pet dishes, a dog walking map and clean-up kits, even an issue of Modern Dog Magazine – while providing an allergy-free floor for those who don’t care for fur. Take advantage of the hotel’s free car service. Forget the morning paper – the Loden’s press reader provides access to 5,000 titles worldwide. These truly special amenities are a reflection of the quality of the service and the hotel itself, together helping the Loden win this special boutique hotel the number two position in Canada at the Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards and a top spot in the trivago Awards Canada.
Star of Yaletown
At the edge of downtown, the OPUS Hotel serves as a base for exploring Yaletown, formerly a warehouse district, now a hip neighborhood buzzing with bars, restaurants, independent shops, craft breweries, food markets and a BC-only wine shop. If you’re planning to explore the neighborhood, walking is rewarding, but you might consider asking if the hotel Jaguar is available for their chauffeur service.
With a restaurant like La Pentola run by chef Travis McCord, it’s tempting to circle the block in that Jaguar right back to OPUS for hearty northern Italian cuisine, starting with handmade pasta and local ingredients, dressed up with Italian olive oil, prosciutto and burrata (a fresh cheese with an outer shell of mozzarella around a centre of cream.) A dish like Beef Carpaccio on their dinner menu perfectly represents that Italian heartiness – it’s dressed with quail eggs and pickled spring vegetables drizzled with truffle aioli and dusted with Pecorino cheese.
After dinner, check out the OPUS Bar for a nightcap. If there’s live music or a DJ, plan on a late night.
Wedgewood Hotel and Spa
A Family-Run Classic
The Wedgewood likes to call itself a family-run hotel, and for good reason. When Greek citizen Eleni Skalbania – born on the volcanic island of Santorini and raised in Athens – immigrated to Canada in her late teens, she quickly proved herself a natural in the hospitality industry. She managed a couple of hotels before completely gutting and renovating a former apartment building into the luxurious Wedgewood Hotel and Spa in 1984. She didn’t know it at the time, but she started a family tradition. Today, her two daughters Marousa Dumaresq and Elpie Marinakis Jackson own and manage the boutique hotel.
The Wedgewood has a personality all its own, thanks to the creative influences of its founder. To create the ambiance she was looking for in the public areas of the hotel, Skalbania brought art and antiques from her home and commissioned craftsmen to build custom furniture. The room variety, including 12th and 14th-floor penthouses, in such a small hotel – 83 rooms and suites – is surprising. Wedgewood’s Traditional Afternoon Tea in the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge is a decadent treat with British roots that includes delicate finger sandwiches, fresh scones with Devonshire cream and lots of loose teas to choose from.
High Tea at Home
High tea in L’Orangerie breakfast room and lounge is a mix of British and French influences – homemade organic Devonshire clotted cream and a selection of French preserves are the enticing sides for fresh scones, pastries, and dainty sandwiches. The selection of Southeast Asian teas is extensive and enticing. In the evening, the fifth-floor room transforms into a relaxing lounge offering BC and California wines as well as creative mixology. At street level, Cafe Medina is open for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch with a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Some of the 60 rooms at L’Hermitage are so well equipped, they’re referred to as “homes.” The one and two-bedroom suites come with full kitchens and high-end appliances. Guests can enjoy the 50-foot outdoor heated saltwater lap pool, the terrace with a city view and complimentary bike and car service in the downtown core.
Heaven on Earth
It’s not because the name promises a little heaven on Earth that the hotel calls itself “a luxurious sanctuary.” It’s the floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Vancouver and the mountains beyond. It’s the BC seaweed treatments at CHI, the Spa. It’s the drinks by the pool mixed at the Ginger Juice Bar. It’s the eclectic, inspired fare in its restaurant, Market, created by Michelin three-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. All of these make the Shangri-La Hotel a special place to stay.
In the restaurant, executive chef Ken Nakano who was raised in a traditional Japanese household emphasizes seasonal and local ingredients. Growing up, Nakano’s daily chores included tending the family garden, preserving fish, and foraging. For these reasons, Nakano speaks of “honoring the seasons.” Look for products like beef from local farms, chanterelle mushrooms foraged in BC forests, land-farmed salmon raised by first nations fish farmers, wild-caught seafood like octopus, shrimp, salmon, and tuna.
The Listel Hotel
Hotel as an Art Gallery
If you ever thought sleeping in an art gallery would be cool, a night at the Listel Hotel is one way to try it. Each floor is themed as a tribute to the visual arts, particularly that of British Columbia and of First Nations. Ask for a room on one of the Gallery Floors where the Buschlen Mowatt Gallery curates a collection of 250 individual artworks by 30 artists. The Listel likes to say that each room is designed as an individual gallery with limited edition prints and original artwork by Canadian and international artists.
On their Museum Floors, it’s all about contemporary Northwest coast art featuring painters, printmakers, ceramic artists and others from various west coast first nations. The Listel has partnered with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia to design the decor, including furniture of regional hemlock and cedar carved using traditional techniques. The deluxe suites on the Artist Series Floor pay tribute to various periods in art history – neoclassical, Italian modern, art deco, French provincial – with works by artists working in those styles.
There’s a lot to admire about the Listel’s love of art, particularly the artistic traditions of British Columbia. That affection is evident from the lobby where dramatic and vibrantly painted West Coast sculptures welcome visitors to each uniquely themed floor, room, and suite.