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Vancouver City Guide

Make the most of your stay with a room in a First Nations sweat lodge, dinner at Kissa Tanto (named Canada's Best New Restaurant in 2016), shopping for vintage finds at Stepback and more.

Where to Stay  /  Where to Eat and Drink  /  What to Do  /  How to Get Around

Where to Stay

Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver

Fairmont Pacific Rim

For the perfect view

Enjoy views of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet from your in-room soaker tub; then book a table at Botanist, a garden/champagne lounge/cocktail bar and dining room inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s flora. Stanley Park’s trails and bike paths are a short walk away.

1038 Canada Place, Vancouver, 604-695-5300, fairmontpacificrim.com

Loden Hotel Vancouver

Photo: Loden Hotel

Loden Hotel

For the ideal location

This boutique hotel is steps from Robson Street shopping and a 20-minute walk from Stanley Park. The spacious suites, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and bathrooms equipped with dimmable lights and soaker tubs, may inspire you to linger indoors. Make use of your room’s Lululemon mat and start the day with the hotel’s yoga TV channel.

1177 Melville St., Vancouver, 877-225-6336, theloden.com

Shangri La Hotel Vancouver

Photo: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Shangri-La Hotel

For understated luxury

This 62-storey hotel houses three-star Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s seafood-driven restaurant, Market by Jean-Georges; a holistic spa that offers Caudalie treatments; and an underground entrance favoured by visiting celebrities—all set in a sleek temple of minimalist design.

1128 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, 604-689-1120, shangri-la.com

L’Hermitage Hotel

For the trendy interior

Featuring condo-sized rooms, this boutique hotel also offers amenities like a heated outdoor 15-metre saltwater lap pool and complimentary bicycle rentals for guests. It sits in the middle of the city’s shopping core in the Robson Street district, just blocks from the financial centre.

788 Richards St., Vancouver, 888-855-1050, lhermitagevancouver.com

Skwachays Lodge Vancouver

Photo: Craig Minielly at Aura Photographics

Skwachàys Lodge

For the sweat lodge and smudge room

Owned and operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society (and pronounced “skwatch-eyes”), this boutique hotel offers easy access to Gastown bars and eateries. The circa-1906 building, restored in a striking aboriginal motif, includes a sweat lodge, smudge room and the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery.

29/31 W. Pender St., Vancouver, 888-998-0797, skwachays.com

Rosewood Georgia Hotel Vancouver

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

For the Canadian art

This Georgian Revival landmark, whose storied guests run the gamut from Katharine Hepburn and Elvis to Frank Sinatra and the Queen, has been updated for a new generation of glamorous visitors. Discover works from one of the largest private collections of Canadian art viewable to the public, including Alan Wood’s Garden series and six tongue-in-cheek pieces by Douglas Coupland.

801 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, 888-767-3966, rosewoodhotelgeorgia.com

Sylvia Hotel

For authentic history

There’s no beating the oceanfront location of this ivy-covered hotel in English Bay or the stalwart that is the Sylvia Lounge – the city’s first cocktail bar when it opened in 1954 and still a bastion of old-school beverages. This pet-friendly hotel is steps from Stanley Park should your well-traveled pooch need some exercise.

1154 Gilford St., Vancouver, 604-681-9321, sylviahotel.com/

Where to Eat and Drink

Kissa Tanto Vancouver

Photo: Knauf and Brown

Kissa Tanto

For Asian-Italian fusion

Tannis Ling’s and Joel Watanabe’s Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie reinvigorated Vancouver’s Chinatown when it opened seven years ago. For their second act they transformed a nearby second-story space into a jazz-age room that features a melding of Italian and Asian flavours – think lamb shoulder with Sicilian olives and tosaka seaweed. It was named Canada’s Best New Restaurant in 2016 by Air Canada enRoute magazine, so reservations are a must.

263 E. Pender St., Vancouver, 778-379-8078, kissatanto.com

Osteria Savio Volpe Vancouver

Photo: Knauf and Brown

Savio Volpe

For casual Italian eats

Reservations are tough to score at this Fraserhood spot, thanks to the soaring, buzzy room and sophisticated takes on traditional Italian fare. (The bistecca fiorentina sells out every time it appears on the menu.) No wonder it was named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2016 by Air Canada enRoute magazine.

615 Kingsway St., Vancouver, 604-428-0072, saviovolpe.com

Matchstick Coffee

For the java jolt

Vancouverites revel in the Pacific Northwest trait of treating coffee like it was cold fusion. The myriad spots that employ beakers and atomically precise measurements in search of the perfect brew are endless, but the Matchstick mini-chain excels at making a great cup. It also bakes some of the city’s best housemade bread.

639 E. 15th Ave., Vancouver, 604-558-0639, matchstickyvr.com

Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant Vancouver

Photo: Courtesy Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant

Chef Tony

For authentic Chinese food

The city’s most refined take on Cantonese cuisine is in the suburb of Richmond. Line-ups are common – especially for dim sum – but this is the closest you can get to true Hong Kong cuisine without leaving the country.

101-4600 No. 3 Rd., Richmond, 604-279-0083, cheftonycanada.com

Nightingale

For the perfect execution

Located in a beautifully restored heritage building in Coal Harbour, Nightingale serves casual fare, like blistery thin-crusted pizzas and a rotating selection of local craft beer. Little wonder Chef David Hawksworth has the responsibility of crafting the menus for Air Canada’s International Business Class and Maple Leaf lounges.

1017 W. Hastings St., Vancouver, 604-695-9500, hawknightingale.com

Rain or Shine Ice Cream Vancouver

Rain or Shine Ice Cream

For the buzz-worthy cones

With a weatherproof name, this ice cream shop has developed a coterie of year-round devotees who can’t get enough of their Salted Caramel, London Fog or Blueberry Balsamic. They also dutifully line up for waffle-cone “tacos” filled with two scoops of ice cream on Taco Tuesdays.

1926 W.4th Ave., Vancouver, 604-876-9986, rainorshineicecream.com

Vij's Restaurant Vancouver

Vij’s

For the best South Asian food

Perhaps no restaurant sums up Vancouver’s multicultural mélange better than TV personality Vikram Vij’s flagship spot. The food is an inventive take on South Asian cuisine that has few global rivals. Increasing the square footage has done little to change the famed lineups. (The restaurant has never taken reservations, as Hollywood stars and Prime Ministers have learned.) The Cambie Street locale features a dynamite rooftop patio—oddly a rarity for a city with such stellar views.

3106 Cambie St., Vancouver, 604-736-6664, vijs.ca

Minami

For sushi reinvented

Sushi is so prevalent in Vancouver that it competes with McDonald’s for the grab-and-go crowd. This Yaletown spot goes one step further with their pioneering use of the aburi technique, which sees the sushi get quickly seared to elevate its texture and flavour.

1118 Mainland St., Vancouver, 604-685-8080, minamirestaurant.com

What to Do

Rennie Collection Vancouver

Photo: Blaine Campbell Courtesy Rennie Museum

Rennie Collection

For the private tour

Find one of the largest contemporary art collections in the country housed in the Wing Sang building, Chinatown’s oldest structure. Thanks to its patron, real estate marketer Bob Rennie – one of the top 200 collectors in the world – works from Rodney Graham (named to the Order of Canada) to Turner Prize-winning artists Martin Creed and Simon Starling can be viewed in an intimate setting with a post-private tour discussion. (Tours, for up to 15 participants, are free.)

51 East Pender St., Vancouver, 604-682-2088, renniecollection.org

Granville Island Public Market Vancouver

Granville Island Public Market

For the freshest local fare

If Vancouver is a foodie’s paradise, then Granville Island Public Market is its Mecca. Professional chefs, locals and tourists collide at one of the country’s best public food halls. Perched on the waters of False Creek, this is ground zero for 100-mile fare like terrines and sausage (Oyama Sausage Co. for juniper and wild boar charcuterie), fresh shellfish (The Lobster Man for local Royal Miyagi oysters) and small batch sake (Artisan Sake Maker for premium food pairings).

1669 Johnston St., Vancouver, granvilleisland.com

Stepback Kitsilano Beach Vancouver

Photo: Gibson Switzer

Stepback

For the vintage finds

This lifestyle shop in the heart of Kitsilano is a delightful mash-up of new and old. Shop well-priced and unusual taxidermy, antique wind-up toys, old CP Rail monogrammed dishware, medical charts and new pieces that recall the charm of yesteryear. (Think bicycle print gift wrapping and apothecary jars.)

2936 West Broadway, Vancouver, 604-731-7525

Dish & Du/er

For fashion-forward athleisure wear

With yards of denim manufacturing street cred, Gary Lenett has turned his attention to a new project – a revolutionary concept in the athleisure market. They may look like jeans, but they act like yoga pants – and there’s a jungle gym in the flagship store to prove it. Test-run your duds with jumps, flips and stretches before cycling away in your fashion-forward tech trousers.

118 West Hastings St., Vancouver, 604-323-0441, dishandduer.com

Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola

Photo: Tara O'Grady Photography

Day Trip to Squamish

For hiking and wine pairings

Squamish, once a pit stop on the way to Whistler, has become a destination in its own right. Flanked by majestic mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, its crowning glory is the Sea to Sky Gondola. Take in scenic views of Howe Sound at 885 metres above ground, hike or snowshoe through 12 kilometres of subalpine forest trails and enjoy wine-paired dinner at the top.

Off Highway 99, Squamish, exploresquamish.com

Museum of Anthropology

For the First Nations art

The Museum of Anthropology showcases the province’s best collection of native art in a stunning concrete and glass structure designed by Arthur Erickson, the city’s greatest architect.

6393 NW Marine Dr., Vancouver, 604-827-5932, moa.ubc.ca

How to Get Around

Getting from the Airport

The Canada Line connects the airport to the SkyTrain transit network, reducing the travel time to 25 minutes and the cost to $5. Cabs from the airport are a flat fee to various quadrants of the city (from $20).


Public Transportation

Until 2009, it seemed like the SkyTrain light rail network only covered places no one wanted to go, but the addition of the Canada Line, running along Cambie to Richmond, makes it a very efficient way to get around. translink.ca


Taxis

If you want a taxi, it’s best to call for one; otherwise, you’ll spend 10 minutes trying to hail unless you’re right outside a hotel. Traveling by taxi can get expensive: One trip across a bridge runs up the meter dramatically and a 15% tip is usually expected. Uber hasn’t arrived in the city yet, but the Zoro app (Zoroapp.com) allows customers to book any cab in the vicinity from their mobile devices.


Black Top & Checker Cabs: 604-731-1111

MacLure's Cabs: 604-831-1111

Vancouver Taxi: 604-871-1111
Yellow Cab: 604-681-1111


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CITY GUIDE     VANCOUVER