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Vancouver, Three Ways

A Brief Introduction to the City of Glass
  • Vancouver skyline

    Vancouver

  • Opus Hotel

    Opus Hotel

  • Opus Hotel

    Opus Hotel

  • View from Stanley Park

    View from Stanley Park

  • The Burrard

    The Burrard

  • David Lam Park

    David Lam Park

  • The Burrard

    The Burrard

  • Shangri-la Hotel, Vancouver

    Shangri-la Hotel, Vancouver

  • Shangri-la Hotel, Vancouver

    Shangri-la Hotel, Vancouver

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On British Columbia’s Pacific coast, sheltered from the open ocean by Vancouver Island.

WHY GO

It’s Canada’s warmest city, for one, as well as its densest, its most diverse, and arguably its prettiest — topping the various livability rankings seemingly every year.

HOW

It’s around three hours’ drive from Seattle, or just under half an hour via the Canada Line subway from Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

TABLET TIP

Pack an extra layer or two. Vancouver may be Canada’s warmest city, but this is still Canada we’re talking about.

Vancouver, April, 2013

In the States we tend to think of Vancouver as something like BC’s answer to San Francisco, or the Hollywood to Toronto’s New York. The reality, of course, is a little more complicated than any of these shorthand renderings. It’s a unique mix: Northwest beauty, West Coast mellowness, a dash of film-industry glamour, and a certain individualistic spirit that’s common to places settled by adventurers. The best way to get a handle on Vancouver’s character is to visit; and while every visit is unique, we’ve put together a little tasting menu, offering three ways to do it.

THE BURRARD
Arrive in your own car; this is a classic mid-century motor lodge, and it still looks the part. These days you’ll park underground, as the central courtyard is now a raised garden terrace, ringed by colorful rows of guest room doors. What’s behind those doors? Simple, stylish rooms — basic by boutique standards, but far better than you’d expect at the Burrard’s price point. In-room amenities include 42-inch HDTVs and automatic espresso makers, which, along with the hotel’s own ground-floor café, ought to be enough to get you started before you rent a bike and hit the streets. Try the exquisite espresso at Revolver in Gastown and consider pausing street-side for a Japadog — more or less exactly what it sounds like — before beginning your caffeine-fueled ride along the Stanley Park seawall.

OPUS HOTEL (Private Sale begins April 30)
Arrive by air; the Canada Line subway whisks you from the airport to Opus Hotel’s front door in 22 minutes flat. This is Vancouver’s original luxury boutique, and for many guests — especially die-hard boutique-hotel fans — it may as well be the only hotel in town. A recent redesign leaves it looking quite up to date yet still as soulful as ever, and the newly wired guest rooms make navigating the city a snap: if you’re unlucky enough to be from somewhere other than Canada, just borrow your room’s Samsung smartphone and you’ll stay connected without owing your phone company a fortune. For nightlife you could scarcely be better located, and the hotel’s new restaurant, La Pentola della Quercia, is one of the town’s hottest tickets, serving excellent Northern Italian fare in a bright, open dining room. Just be sure you save one meal for dumplings at the extraordinary Bao Bei, in nearby Chinatown.

SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, VANCOUVER
Arrive via private limo; if you’re staying at the Shangri-La, it’d be a shame to deny yourself the pleasure of a driver waiting at the airport. This is where you go for an over-the-top luxury-hotel experience — literally, as the 62-story Shangri-La is by some distance the city’s tallest building. From here you can see everything, from the city’s rooftops to the harbor and the Coast Mountains beyond. The rooms are Asian-inspired, perhaps a touch conservative in style but every bit as comfortable, we’re reliably informed, as the hotel rooms in heaven. It’ll be tough to coax yourself outside, and you could have a fine time without doing so — there’s a shockingly well-equipped spa and health club, as well as a pair of restaurants, one of them by Jean-Georges. As long as you (or your employer) are splashing out this sort of cash, however, 60 floors might not be enough — and the upper floors are all reserved for the residences anyway. You may as well get as high as possible — by which we mean, take a helicopter tour up the West Vancouver coastline and into the utterly sublime Howe Sound. You’ll never want to come back down — to the ground, or below the 49th parallel, or quite possibly both.

John Speranza

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On British Columbia’s Pacific coast, sheltered from the open ocean by Vancouver Island.

WHY GO

It’s Canada’s warmest city, for one, as well as its densest, its most diverse, and arguably its prettiest — topping the various livability rankings seemingly every year.

HOW

It’s around three hours’ drive from Seattle, or just under half an hour via the Canada Line subway from Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

TABLET TIP

Pack an extra layer or two. Vancouver may be Canada’s warmest city, but this is still Canada we’re talking about.


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