With an abundance of striking natural vistas and varied scenery (think soaring mountains, epic skyscrapers and sandy beaches), Vancouver is made for those who love the great outdoors — and your style should match. Aside from the awe-inspiring landscapes, the city has a rich food scene with some of the freshest seafood around and a farm-to-table mentality. An ocean-fringed metropolis that frequently ranks among the world’s most livable cities, it boasts some of the best weather in Canada. Visit this often mild-weather city in August for a sunny stay. Or, for a wintry getaway, come for the first snowfall, which usually arrives in December.
Get out of town
A nature-lover’s dream, Vancouver Island contains a myriad of landscapes, from vibrant rain forests and formidable mountain ranges to a coastline ranging from sandy beaches to rugged stone. Keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife — orcas, sea lions and elk.
While the ferry is the most common mode of transport, we recommend opting for the seaplane for some spectacular views. Upon arrival, visit Long Beach or Mystic Beach and spend the morning walking barefoot along some of Canada’s softest sands before watching the sunset over the snow-capped mountains.
Located in the pristine Unesco-designated Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge provides an extraordinary experience of Vancouver Island’s grand wilderness. Offering a series of nature-based adventures from canyoning and hiking to horseback riding and watersports, a personalized itinerary is created for each guest and presented on arrival. Or, if you’re looking for something extraordinary, the helicopter experiences are not to be missed.
Standing 700-ft high, the opulent Shangri-La is Vancouver’s tallest tower. From the Mandarin collars of the concierge staff to the lack of fourth and 13th floors (the numbers four and 13 are believed to be unlucky in Chinese and North American culture, respectively), the Asian influence is in every detail.
Nestled between the mountains and the sea, this urban sanctuary is home to the city’s most luxurious spa, Chi, with treatments inspired by the natural beauty of Vancouver and British Columbia’s indigenous wellness traditions. Opt for the Orchid Suite, an oasis in the heart of the cosmopolitan city; the extensive living and dining areas are made for relaxing and entertaining. There is a private butler’s entrance, an opulent en-suite canopy bedroom and a generous private balcony with panoramic views of the city.
Dubbed the Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a must for any intrepid adventurer. From hiking and ziplining in the summer to ice skating and snowshoeing in the winter, it’s a year-round destination.
Take the gondola up the mountain for some awe-inspiring views of the city and the ocean. Or try the Grouse Grind, a 2,830-step trail that will take you 2,800 ft up the mountain. While you hike, stay warm in Canada Goose’s Cypress Puffer paired with comfortable leggings from another local designer, lululemon.
Stanley Park is a 1,000-acre green oasis in the midst of Vancouver’s urban landscape where you can find beaches, an aquarium, botanical gardens, a golf course, tennis courts and, of course, the famous Seawall. Finally, since British Columbia is home to a wealth of marine life (orcas, humpbacks and dolphins), be sure to try your luck whale watching on a private tour.
Vancouver is a gourmand’s paradise. Its close proximity to the sea means its restaurants offer some of the best local ingredients. For an unparalleled dining experience, Five Sails offers exquisite dishes and breathtaking waterfront views through floor-to-ceiling windows; you can enjoy the breathtaking scenes of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s North Shore, the Lion’s Gate Bridge and Coal Harbour.
As the only Four Diamond dining experience in the city, the award-winning restaurant offers exquisitely prepared West Coast fare. Try the seafood and kaviari platters, where the freshest oysters and an exclusive selection of caviar pay homage to the ocean that surrounds the city.
Blue Water Cafe is Vancouver’s premier seafood restaurant. With an international reputation for excellence founded on its fresh and most sustainable wild fish options, executive chef Frank Pabst offers something truly remarkable.
Try the seafood tower to sample some of the most delicious fish. These shoes from Canadian designer Zvelle are the perfect accompaniment to a locally-sourced dinner. Pair with this Dolce & Gabbana dress for an effortlessly elegant outfit.
A nod to the member’s club aesthetic, Bacchus Lounge is dominated by dark wood and sumptuous velvet. As day turns to night, enjoy live piano music next to a fire while you sip on some creative cocktails made by the talented bartenders.
For an iconic bar with an equally iconic view, Bayside Lounge offers some of the best oceanside vistas in the city. Offering several variations of the classic Caesar cocktail — Canada’s answer to the Bloody Mary, made with part clam juice and part tomato juice — it’s a must-try. Dress for the occasion with this tuxedo jumpsuit from Canadian designer Pink Tartan.
This article appears in the 04 Mar 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Spring 2022