The 61 storeys of the new Shangri-La building on the corner of West Georgia and Thurlow make it the tallest structure in the city, housing condos, shops and restaurants, with 15 floors reserved for Vancouver's top hotel (www.shangri-la.com). Another massive project is the Georgia Tower, transforming the stately, 1920s Hotel Georgia into 52 storeys of soaring glass in the Downtown centre. The 247-room luxury boutique hotel will open by 2010 (http://residencesatgeorgia.com).
In response, the city's established facilities are smartening up: five years ago, most hotels acceded to the insistent beige – clean, minimal design whitewashed every interior. Then came high speed internet, followed by plasma TVs. Now everything's going green. Light fixtures feature low energy compact fluorescents; heating and air conditioning is controlled at a main switchboard so that they can be adjusted as soon as guests check out; room service boasts sustainable products and practices.
Most visitors to Vancouver will want to stay in the downtown core. How you narrow it down from there doesn't really matter; a 10-minute cab ride will get you from one side of town to the other. Though less obvious during the day, the city's neighbourhoods are clearly defined at night. The West End, though quiet and leafy, perks up later on, the cafés and restaurants on Denman Street buzzing with locals. Conversely, Robson Street, though busy with shoppers in the day and early evening, closes down come nightfall. Yaletown is the trendy place to hang at night, with Vancouver's most upscale bars and a clutch of its favourite restaurants, but has only one hotel, the stylish Opus. Nearby Granville Street is the entertainment district and is home to a seven-screen cinema, theatres and bars; it's also noisy and a bit seedy.
If you'd rather not stay in the hub, then the West Side is probably the best bet. Kitsilano's B&Bs offer easy access to the beach and there's no shortage of neighbourhood bars and great places to eat. Unless you plan to spend most of your trip on the mountains, the North Shore is probably too far to be convenient.
Many hotels offer better rates through their websites and it's often possible to get a discount at the top hotels if their occupancy levels are lower than expected. Tourism Vancouver's site (www.tourismvancouver.com) has good information on the city's accommodation.
Up-to-date information on B&Bs can be found out from the British Columbia Bed & Breakfast Innkeepers Guild (http://bcsbestbnbs.com).
Beach hotel: walk to Vancouver's liveliest beach in minutes from Mickey's Kits Beach Chalet a perfectly-situated West End B&B. Downtown is just five minutes away on the bus.
Hotel high season: rooms become pricier from May to October in Vancouver, but deals can still be had if hotels find their occupancy levels lower than expected.
Old-world charm on a budget: the Victorian Hotel is one of the city's first guest houses and still offers old-world charm and service, all in a lovingly restored setting that'll make you feel you're in a Victorian novel.
For our purposes, hotels offering rooms under $100 are defined as budget; under $200 as moderate. When you get into the expensive and luxury categories, depending on the time of year and style of room you're after, the sky is the limit. The distinction between expensive and luxury is made on the range of services offered and the quality of the finishing touches.
While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.
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