Vancouver hotels come dressed in sleek, modern towers, grand dames, and boutique B&Bs. Most of Vancouver's hotels are in the downtown area or the West End. Covering a peninsula, downtown Vancouver is small and easily walkable, so you'll often be no more than a 20-minute walk from most major sights, services, and nightlife.
As an urban hub, Vancouver hotels tend to be well-equipped with technology. Most hotels have updated to flatscreen TVs and Wi-Fi, and many luxury properties have dataports to connect an array of devices. You'll find more hotels are smoke free, save a few like the Empire Landmark.
As a young city that completely burnt to the ground in 1886, Vancouver can be devoid of historic charm at times. Some of the larger hotels lack architectural character and blend in with the "Glass City" skyline, while it's the small boutique properties that deliver a delightful dose of heritage style.
One thing to keep in mind when booking a room downtown is that hotels on Granville Street (the Best Western Downtown Vancouver and the Ramada Inn and Suites) offer a central location without the high price tag, but the area they're in is not high-gloss (yet). Granville Street looks much better now, however, than it has for years. After a makeover in 2009, it is becoming trendy because of its large concentration of bars, lounges, and clubs, and has been dubbed the "Entertainment District." It's not dangerous, but be prepared for noisy revelry on warm summer Friday and Saturday nights.
Bus and/or public transportation information is given only for those hotels listed above that are outside of the Vancouver city center.
The opening of new hotels eased off following the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the months since have mostly seen re-openings of historic properties that have undergone multi-million-dollar renovations. The newly reopened Rosewood Hotel Georgia dates to 1927 and offers a fabulous location overlooking the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Waldorf Hotel is a fresh, welcomed concept of an artists' hub -- renovations have revitalized the historic Tiki Bar and hotel. Although on traffic-heavy Burrard Street, the Burrard has been made over with a young urban polish that marks a fine balance of comfort, location, and price.
Getting the Best Deal
Although Vancouver boasts a full complement of accommodations -- from hostels and guest houses to luxury waterfront suites -- rooms are not cheap, especially in downtown Vancouver and Whistler. If you’d like to save money on lodgings, consider the following strategies:
Buy a money-saving package deal. A travel package that combines your airfare and your hotel stay for one price may just be the best bargain of all. In some cases, you’ll get airfare, accommodations, transportation to and from the airport, plus extras—maybe an afternoon sightseeing tour or restaurant and shopping discount coupons—for less than the hotel alone would have cost had you booked it yourself. Most airlines and many travel agents, as well as the usual booking websites (Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia) offer good packages.
Choose a chain. With some exceptions, I have not listed mass-volume chain hotels in this book, as they tend to lack the character and local feel that most independently run hotels have. And it’s that feel, I believe, that is so much a part of the travel experience. Still, when you’re looking for a deal, they can be a good option. That’s because you can also pull out all the stops for discounts at a budget chain, from reward points to senior status to corporate rates. Most chain hotels let the kids stay with parents for free.
Avoid excess charges & hidden costs. Use your own cellphone instead of dialing direct from hotel phones, which usually incur exorbitant rates. (But beware of roaming charges; check your service provider’s plan before you leave home.) And don’t be tempted by minibar offerings: Most hotels charge through the nose for water, soda, and snacks. Finally, ask about local taxes and service charges, which can increase the cost of a room by 15 percent or more. If a hotel insists upon tacking on an “energy surcharge” that wasn’t mentioned at check-in, you can often make a case for getting it removed.
Make multiple reservations.This strategy is only necessary in high season. But often then, as the date of the stay approaches, hotels start to play “chicken” with one another, dropping the price a bit one day to try and lure customers away from a nearby competitor. Making this strategy work takes vigilance and persistence, but since your credit card won’t be charged until 24-hours before check-in, little risk is involved.
Use the right online sites. Such websites as Booking.com, HotelsCombined.com, and Trivago.ca often beat the rest because they cast a broader net when quoting prices. In the case of the latter two, that means that you’ll see choices from a number of discounters, some less well-known but all reliable. Booking.com works a bit differently, but it has become known for making side deals with the small mom-and-pop hotels that many of the bigger travel agency sites skip.
Book Blind. If you just want a place to sleep, consider paying before you know the name of the hotel for big savings. You can do so on either Priceline.com or Hotwire.com, and there is a way to “scoop” the system. A site called BetterBidding.com allows travelers to post how much they bid on a hotel room and which hotel they got. You’ll be amazed both at how often the same hotels come up; and by the quality of these hotels (both sites only deal with major chains, so you’re pretty much assured that you won’t be lodged in a dump).
Book Last Minute. An unused bed is inventory lost for a hotelier, so many are willing to play “let’s make a deal” in the few days prior to a stay. And many play that game with the app HotelTonight, which can only be used on the day of travel. If you have the courage to wait that long, you can often get discounts of up to 70 percent on hotel rooms.
Try Alternative Accommodations. Strange but true, it’s sometimes cheaper to rent an entire apartment, complete with a kitchen and living room, than it is to stay in a hotel room. On AirBnB, for example, you can rent a complete apartment in Vancouver’s West End for just C$90 a night. If you’re willing to just rent a room in an apartment (an informal B&B arrangement), you can pay as little as C$60/night in that city. Other sources that rent either full apartments and homes or rooms in private homes include Wimdu.com, HomeAway.com, Rentalo.com, VRBO.com and FlipKey.com.
Note: Discount rates rarely include breakfast, parking, or other fees that may be included in a package deal.
Expensive C$200 and up
Inexpensive Under C$100
Vancouver is one of the dog-friendliest cities in the world. Nearly all downtown and West End hotels allow you to check in your canine companion, usually for an added daily charge of C$25 to C$75. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver also has two canine ambassadors -- Mavis and Beau -- who greet dog and human guests.
Reservations are highly recommended May to September and during holidays. For additional information, call Hello BC at tel. 800/435-5622 or 800/663-6000. You can also book a room by going to Tourism Vancouver, 200 Burrard St. (across from Canada Place), or by visiting www.tourismvancouver.com.
Looking for a Bed & Breakfast?
The majority of properties listed in this section are hotels, with a few hostels, bed-and-breakfasts and short-stay apartments included. If you prefer to stay in a B&B, the BC Bed & Breakfast Innkeepers Guild (www.bcsbestbnbs.com) has listings of its members throughout the province. Listings include a detailed description, contact info, photos, and pricing. Since B&Bs come in all styles from sleek and urbane to frilly and flouncy, there’s bound to be one that suits your needs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.