Althought the city is quite compact, each area has its distinct character and accommodation options. All our recommendations are within easy reach of transit that will take you to the major attractions, though if you choose to stay outside of the downtown core, a car will still be the easiest way to tour neighborhoods on the West Side or North Shore. Hotels with a water view are coveted and get booked up well in advance, as do some of the heritage bed-and-breakfasts you’ll find in the more fashionable neighborhoods such as the West End. And if you’ve been to Vancouver recently– be sure to rate your hotel!
Downtown (Robson to the Waterfront)
Vibe: Central commercial/financial district hotels are mostly mid- to high-end, catering to tourists and business travelers. Low-to-midprice hotels are on Granville Street, south of Robson.
Pros: Within walking distance of nearly all downtown sights and handy to the Canada Place cruise-ship terminal.
Cons: A little dull come evening as few people live in the area, but Granville Street, south of Robson, is lined with bars, clubs, and movie theaters.
Our Pick: The small, lavish Wedgewood Hotel & Spa has old-world Italian luster and an owner who cares fervently about her guests. See other Downtown Vancouver hotel reviews or rate the Wedgewood!
Vibe: Also located on the downtown peninsula, this is where urban chic translates into New York-style loft apartments, beneath which lie lots of trendy restaurants and boutique shops.
Pros: Lots of hip shopping and restaurants nearby, and a short ferry ride to Granville Island.
Cons: Sidewalks can be noisy; this is one of the most densely populated, highrise areas of the city.
Our Pick: The boutique Opus Hotel, with whimsically designed interiors and beautiful views, is a great choice for Yaletown.
Vibe: These side-by-side historic neighborhoods are great to visit but not to stay overnight.
Pros: Intriguing, touristy, photo-worthy for their character and accessible on foot.
Cons: Both neighborhoods border on an unsavory part of town.
West End/Stanley Park
Vibe: A lovely tree-filled residential neighborhood not far from downtown. Hotels in all price ranges are on the main arteries; historic hotels and B&Bs are on tree-lined back streets.
Pros: A pleasant alternative to the central business district. The beach at English Bay is the West End’s hot spot for people watching and casual dining.
Cons: Could be too quiet for some folks.
Our Pick: The Sylvia is so popular you have to book six months to a year ahead for summer visits. See other West End hotel reviews or rate the Sylvia.
Vibe: A combination of neighborhoods from tony Kerrisdale, to old-money Shaughnessy, to gentrified (partially hippie) Kitsilano, as well as Granville Island, and Point Grey.
Pros: Handy to beaches, the UBC campus, parks and gardens, and close to great shopping along West 4th Avenue and South Granville.
Cons: You may feel “out of the action” since these are residential areas. Although bus transit is excellent, having a car makes navigation easier.
Vibe: Away from the madding crowd, North Vancouver is busy and commercial; West Vancouver exudes wealth and elegance.
Pros: Close to hiking, skiing, fjordic kayaking, and ritzy waterfront homes that looky-loos will enjoy seeing during a picturesque drive.
Cons: Whatever the mode of transportation, allow 30 minutes to get downtown. Note, too, that the mountains get more rain and snow than the rest of the region.
Our Pick: The ThistleDown House, with its private, sunny garden, is handy to North Shore hiking and skiing, but just 15 to 30 minutes from downtown.
Metro Vancouver Suburbs
Vibe: Greater Vancouver, which was recently renamed Metro Vancouver, has many unique and historic areas worth exploring.
Pros: Forts, Buddhist temples, and national historic canneries are within easy driving of downtown. Some sites are very near the airport.
Cons: You need time and a car to make the best of the half-day-to-daylong adventures in Pros.