This is my hometown. I’ve heard that it was when Vancouver hosted the World Fair in 1986 that the world discovered Vancouver and Vancouver changed forever.
Our nickname: Glass City. We are a very young, very beautiful and very modern city architecturally. So many of our high rises are made up of this bottle green glass which, when a city sits next to the water like Vancouver does – just echoes coolness and modernity. This “cool/wet” is also in the weather. We have downtown for work and tourists and the residential areas across the bridges lined with beautiful wide leafy green boulevards that are so beautiful dressed in rust and gold in the fall. People walk here, people bike here, and people run here. A lot. We are super casual. This is the city where the athleisure brand LuluLemon was born and that has its own athletic leisure wear division at one of our universities. We also love tea, or I do:) But we do have a fair amount of small, Canadian tea companies, place you go to have tea are fairly easy to find in every neighborhood as are bakeries, and you can take two years to become a tea sommelier here; a hangover from our days under the English empire. We are still part of the British Commonwealth. You see that hangover in the older, English-style buildings that are downtown and the beautiful old neighborhoods and in the Queen of England on our money. It’s in our preference for private schools (we have the most per capita in North America except for Connecticut) and in our manners. So we think :) Yes Canadians, and people from Vancouver, are known for being ‘nice’ and polite.
Our car plates read “Beautiful British Columbia.” We don’t need the reminder. Vancouverites are different, and we are different because we have a great deal of respect for, and an intimate relationship with Mother Nature. (Which is connected to our attachment to athleisure wear.) She surrounds us and is part of our everyday lives. To do? Go up the gondola on Grouse Mountain to see the scale of this beauty of this city and if you are fit enough, attempt The Grind, an almost vertical hike up the mountain under the gondola path. We LOVE our outdoor activities; you can run, roller blade or bike the seawall around Stanley Park, visit the totem poles, visit the aquarium and watch a Punch and Judy puppet show on one of the lawns.
Weather is very much like London or Paris which sit on almost the same latitude and which also sit near water so... expect lots of temperate rain and grey skies except in the summertime.
The original old Vancouver with cobblestone streets and brick buildings is touristy, but it is still great. Great cafes, shops, restaurants and it’s pretty and charming and it feels very old English.
Even the locals love it though tourists do too and its one of my favorite things to do; wander the food market and sit and eat fish and chips on the quay, watching seagulls come and land.
Queen Elizabeth Park
It’s a beautiful close second to Butchart Gardens if you can’t get over to the island. It has gorgeous flowers and a restaurant with a view over the whole city.
One of the biggest in the world outside of China :)
We have great skiing. Period. Grouse, Mount Seymour are close to the city but then we have Whistler, which hosted the Olympics in 2010. We are a GREAT, world-class ski destination.
Robson Street is fun, as is the Vancouver Art Gallery which sits on one side of Robson. The cafe inside the Art Gallery is very good and you can people watch from the terrace.
We have some great hotels too, of course. The Four Seasons, The Georgia and The Wedgewood are my favorites and I and my friends and family go often.
The Wedgewood sits in the middle of downtown Vancouver, just off of Robson on a leafy, narrow side street called Hornby. The Wedgewood is a lovely, family owned boutique hotel. A cheery, friendly, mannered, hatted doorman greets you. Opens the door. You pass through the wood-framed glass doors to a cozy, elegant sense of ‘home.” It says, “You’re here.” Deep patterned oriental carpets, antiques, potted orchids and an intimate scale like that of an elegant home welcome you in. You don’t have to walk across a wide, cold lobby because comfy, velvet chairs are right there when you enter, inviting you you take a seat.
This is what I look for when I travel. Massive vistas in marble floored lobbies are gorgeous, too, but when you travel a lot, warmth, comfort, familiarity and a level of service and detail let you decompress and blend into this welcoming, extended family. Isn’t it nice to be home when you’re away from home?
Isn’t it nice too to be able to have your favorite tea, by “T,” on hand? Your favorite truffle fries on the table, Daniel chocolates in your room and a warm fire to sit by with good conversation to top it all off? Tinkling piano music in the evenings adds no effort entertainment.
You are here to sleep. The luxurious beds and mattresses are custom made. The antiques scattered throughout are mostly English along with toiletries from the south of France. The global family that offers their service from every level, from reception to the cleaning staff, is world class and crowned as such by no less than Relais and Chateaux.
When I talked to the staff, some had worked there thirty years, twenty years, ten years. I was told by one, “No one leaves unless they retire.” What a testimonial. But my testimonial would be written with the same level of admiration, with or without the gift of hospitality, because it was deservingly earned, not offered as a gift.
Also, don’t forget to try out The Spa at the Wedgewood. The facial is both fabulous and amazing!!
Try to get over to Vancouver Island and see Victoria. Victoria for the most part feels like time travel into Victorian England. It’s very pretty and charming. It sits on the harbor and the parliament buildings are made of beautiful, old, grey granite and look very elegant and important. Our museum is a world class winner and the city is so picturesque and charming. Very Victorian. Butchart Gardens are so English and big :) and you can take a tour inside the Parliament Buildings. The Empress hotel sits on the harbor and looks like and elegant sister to the Parliament buildings. Her lobby has gorgeous deep carpets, English antiques and a real conservatory. The High Tea served there is on par with the grand old London hotels with butler service, silver tea pots, scones, delicate sandwiches, cookies and cakes.
South Granville which is a ‘high street’ with cafes, boutiques, and markets. Robson and Pacific Center have all the luxury brands and are really nice.
Provence Seaside, Hotel Vancouver for high tea - English style, Chambar, Goldfish, Lupo, Bishops, West, Le Crocodile, L’Abbatoir, Salvio Volpe, and an infinity of Japanese and Chinese which I have to add separately! For now, check out Bao Bei Kissa Tanto.
“I feel like I’m very much the tourist guide here in this post and I wish I could share the feelings I have for this city better, but I also feel responsible to be a good hostess and tell you where to go and what to do :) !! I think that Vancouver will feel very different from my other destinations, because even Tucson was a discovery for me, whereas Vancouver is my hometown.”