Business trip: Vancouver
The modern, earthy 77-room, 15-storey Loden Hotel is sandwiched between other towers mid-block, so you might miss it when walking or driving along Melville Street downtown. Oversized rooms have bright floor-to-ceiling windows, warm wood panelling and all-marble bathrooms, some of which are separated from guest rooms with large sliding wooden wall panels, which lend a sense of openness to the space. There are also a few thoughtful touches: each room is stocked with a yoga mat, there are two London-taxi-style cars on call to shuttle guests around the city and free bikes are available for guests to borrow.
Downtown Vancouver’s fashionable, café- and bar-dotted Yaletown district is home to the trendy 96-room low-rise Opus Hotel, which assigns names to its five distinct room types: Billy, the rock star (eclectic); Susan, the executive from Toronto (sophisticated); Mike, a doctor from New York City (minimalist); Pierre, the food critic from Paris (vibrant); and Dede, the actress from LA (dramatic). There is an iPad in each room for guest use, lollipops and Pez dispensers replace chocolates on the pillow at turndown, and those who book via the hotel’s website get free in-room wi-fi. The Canada Line airport link stops across the street.
Original art and a robust relationship with local artisans and museums means a stay at the otherwise prosaic 129-room Listel Hotel feels more like a visit to an art gallery. Located in the West End, near Vancouver’s gay village along Davie Street, the hotel showcases contemporary Northwest Coast art on loan from the prestigious University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, as well as modern and contemporary works courtesy of the Buschlen Mowatt Galleries. Plus, there is free long distance calling within Canada and to the US and complimentary wine receptions each afternoon.
It has only been open a year, but the Hawksworth Restaurant at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia (named after local celebrity chef David Hawksworth) is already the most sought-after table in town for business travellers out to impress clients or celebrate big deals. Menus feature contemporary Canadian cuisine with ingredients sourced from local waters or farms (such jalapeño and sunflower seed-crusted sturgeon with ham hock, kale and spiced squash broth) served up in a classy street-level dining room. The full menu is also served at the restaurant’s bar -- an excellent option if dining alone.
If Vancouver’s cloudy winter days get you down, soak up some natural light in the glassed-in, aquarium-like setting of Market by Jean-Georges, located on the third floor of the Shangri-La hotel. While the menu changes with the seasons, staples such as the black truffle pizza with fontina cheese or the steamed shrimp salad with avocado and champagne dressing are year-round favourites of the movers and shakers from nearby offices who take advantage of its popular 50-minute, 29-Canadian-dollar prix fixe power lunch.
For a fun night out with clients or colleagues, head over to Chambar on the eastern edge of downtown. This warm red-brick warehouse space sports one of Canada’s most eclectic menus, blending the seemingly opposite tastes of Belgium and North Africa. For example, chef Nico Schuermans prepares steamed mussels three ways: coquotte, with white wine cream and bacon; vin blanc, with white wine, butter, celery and leeks; or congolaise, with tomato coconut cream, smoked chilli, lime and cilantro. In typical Belgian style, all are served with crispy hot frites (fries), and washed down with a house-made Chambar ale or one of the many Belgian brews on the menu.