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Vancouver Travel Guide

About Vancouver

Urban buzz meets nature in Vancouver, a multicultural oceanside city on the edge of a wilderness of forested mountains. Amid shiny skyscrapers and diverse neighbourhoods, you can savour the craft-brew craze, browse indie stores, try out 100-plus food trucks, and enjoy the outdoors via every means imaginable.

It's no wonder Vancouver is repeatedly hailed as one of the world's most liveable cities, with its meld of stylish 21st-century architecture, regenerated industrial districts and laid-back beachside neighbourhoods.

The West End is chock-full of juice bars and coffee shops, with colourful Davie Street home to a large LGBT community. In revitalised Yaletown, designer boutiques and trendy restaurants fill former warehouses, and diners spill onto busy patios in summer. Historic Gastown and the adjacent Downtown Eastside are undergoing a stratospheric gentrification, with new condos, restaurants and high-end shops taking over decrepit or demolished buildings.

Wave after wave of new immigrants have given Vancouver its cosmopolitan feel. Chinatown is jammed with noodle houses, bakeries, medicine shops and a lively market. Multicultural Commercial Drive is lined with Italian cafés and delis, while vibrant Punjabi Market is a bustling South Asian hub.

Vancouverites live for the outdoors. Year-round, hordes of joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists jostle for space on the seawall, while hardcore runners pound up the lung-bustingly steep Grouse Grind trail. There are countless opportunities for rafting, mountain biking, camping and skiing; sports junkies can ride powder on three local mountains and sail in English Bay on the same day.

Visitor attractions are world class too, whether you choose to edge your way round the vertigo-inducing Cliffwalk at Capilano Bridge Suspension Park, 'surf' the cable-car roof on Grouse Mountain, or touch stingrays in Vancouver Aquarium.

All this comes at a cost to locals however: Vancouver's house prices have risen astronomically in recent years. Fortunately, if you're here on holiday, you can forget about spending your life savings on apied-à-terre (small flat) and instead check in to one of Vancouver's many super-chic hotels.

Key facts

Population:
603502
Latitude:
49.260440
Longitude:
-123.113962

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The Burrard

This coolly renovated 1950s motor inn offers affordable retro chic with free Wi-Fi bang in the centre of Downtown. There's a lovely courtyard garden with a ping-pong table and free Brodie cruiser bike rentals if you fancy a spin around town. Grab breakie and an espresso in Elysian Coffee, the stylish café.

The Listel Hotel

Priding itself on its commitment to art, this hotel is handy for exploring Robson Street's shops. The rooms on the Museum Floor are fitted out with hemlock and cedar furnishings plus First Nations art. The Gallery Floor suites are more traditional in style, with cherry wood furnishings, chaises longues tucked in bay windows and original Canadian and international artwork.

Skwachàys Lodge

A boutique hotel, fair trade gallery and aboriginal artist residence in one, this lodge is a social enterprise which also provides affordable shelter to aboriginal people. Each smartly kitted-out suite has been uniquely decorated by artists and designers, so you might find yourself sleeping beneath a beaded bear sculpture or a painting of salmon swimming upstream.

Moda Hotel

This 1908 heritage hotel in the heart of Downtown has been transformed into a chic contemporary boutique hotel. While the rooms and décor are very much of the 21st century, many of the building's original features remain, including the lobby's mosaic tiles and 80-year-old hardwood floors in some guest rooms. Uva Wine Bar serves espresso and wine downstairs.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Meticulously restored Rosewood Hotel Georgia once hosted Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Today's guests are treated to elegant rooms and suites, with delicious nods to the 1920s and 1930s and vast, decadently luxurious bathrooms. You can nip down to dinner at upscale Hawksworth Restaurant, plunge into the saltwater pool, or sip cocktails on the laid-back garden terrace.

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Lavish rooms in this Coal Harbour hotel feature luxurious Stearns & Foster beds, plush linens and roomy marble bathrooms with TV mirrors. The Willow Stream Spa offers nine treatment rooms, a massive fitness centre and an outside deck with meditation pods and private hot tubs. Or you can lounge by outdoor firepits next to the open-air rooftop pool.