Fairmont Vancouver, one of Canada’s best-loved grand hotels and one of Vancouver’s most iconic buildings, celebrates its 80th birthday this year. Officially opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1939 it was built by Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage travellers on to Canada’s new train service and comes with a top grade reputation for luxury and service.
Over eight decades it has seen a majestic roll call of guests from Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger in the 1940s to our current Queen and Princess Anne in 1970 and including celebrities such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and Diana Ross. The hotel’s most recent brush with fame was providing a backdrop for the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” including the infamous elevator scene.
Newly fresh from a five-year, $75 (£46) million refurbishment, Fairmont Vancouver is the oldest of Vancouver’s four Fairmont Hotels and has 557 rooms and suites.
Where is it?
The location in the heart of Downtown Vancouver facing Hornby Street and Burrard is on-point, ideal for business and leisure. The high towers of Yaletown, the tourist hotspots of the Pacific Waterfront or GasTown and the outdoor splendour of Stanley Park are all within a fifteen minute stroll while the city’s main shops and restaurants lie directly outside the door.
Fairmont Vancouver is known as the city’s “Castle in the Sky’ for its romantic tiered wedding cake shape complete with carved gargoyles and all topped off with a fairy tale-style steeply pitched green copper roof.
Inside its original mahogany, brass and crystal finishes were ripped out in the 1960s but the thoughtful foresight of Housekeeper Ethel Ferguson, appalled by the modernising of Vancouver’s classic hotel, saw her stash away over 200 items of furniture and panelling. Fifteen years later when the hotel was returned to its original classic style she uncovered what she had hidden away and those original items could be replaced.
The second floor has a 50 foot indoor pool with sauna and a well-equipped fitness centre. Studios on the Lower Level offer yoga and Pilates classes while the Absolute Spa offers treatments, eucalyptus steam showers, a relaxation lounge and complimentary makeup consultations.
The hotel’s two ballrooms are a favourite wedding venue and there are 22 meeting rooms and conference areas holding between 12 and 1,000 people.
Service is friendly and efficient, there’s a winning sense of history without being at all stuffy, the professional concierge team are adept at gently steering you towards the best recommendations and there are two gorgeous and docile dogs – Canine Ambassadors Elly and Ella – who amble around making friends with the guests. This is a hotel that actively welcomes dogs to stay.
The choices of what to do in British Columbia’s capital city are exceptional. Hire bikes – the hotel will loan ones for up to two hours – and cycle around beautiful Stanley Park. A cycle path starts directly outside the hotel and it’s an easy downhill ride to the Park with its eight kilometre flat seawall promenade ideal for cycling or walking.
Go shopping at high-end boutiques and department stores along Robson Street (Tiffany’s, Gucci and Nordstrom are minutes away). There are high-street names, Zara, Banana Republic, independent Canadian boutiques and excellent seafood and Asian restaurants.
Walk to historic GasTown or high rise Yaletown, visit the Aquarium or take a short boat rise to the markets on Granville Island.
Food & Drink
The handsome lobby bar and restaurant is called Notch8, named for the top speed of a train as a nod to the hotels original owners, Canadian Pacific Railway. It’s an atmospheric space at the heart of the hotel serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily as well as weekend brunch. The cocktail list is long and inviting and the venue is popular with locals as well as hotel guests.
There are 557 deeply spoiling and comfortable rooms with a myriad of different categories thanks to the historic building where every floor has a different footprint. All rooms have efficient air-conditioning, thick bathrobes, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bars and high-speed internet.
Fairmont and Fairmont Gallery rooms on floors 8 to 13 are entry level rooms. Deluxe corner rooms, on every floor, are popular choices while rooms on the east side of the building, facing the Art Gallery have the best city views.
The 14th floor has three heritage suites and is where our Royal family stayed, the solid bronze gates that marked out their private rooms still there today.
Fairmont Gold rooms on the 9th floor have their own private concierge, check-in and complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening canapés and refreshments. This exclusive ‘hotel within a hotel’ of 50 rooms and suites provides privacy and comfort for around and extra $150 a day and is a favourite with families.
Families, couples, business travellers: everyone.
The wonderful sense of arrival starts as soon as you pull up to the door to be greeted by the doorman in his top hat and frock coat. Fairmont Vancouver is big enough to accommodate all tastes and its central location means the best of Vancouver is on the doorstep.
Double rooms start from CAD$349.00.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver; + 1 604 684 3131