Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver
On the edge of Vancouver's Downtown area, overlooking the harbour, the hotel is a short walk to many of the city's main attractions, including the hip and happening neighbourhood of Gastown. Float planes take off every few minutes during peak hours, heading out to Vancouver Island. Next door to the hotel is the Convention Centre and ferry terminal. The city's beautiful and wild Stanley Park is only a 20-minute walk away (or a shorter bike ride – see "Stepping out'' below).
Opened in 2010, the Pacific Rim is a stylish, more modern hotel than its classic sibling, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (opened in 1939). The building features 370 rooms and suites, with 70 per cent of them reportedly offering harbour and mountain views. The grand lobby features a lively lounge bar, complete with live music seven days a week. There's a large heated pool and hot tub on the sixth floor terrace and a fitness centre and spa on the fifth floor.
The hotel owner has a penchant for fashion and there is a rotating display of dresses through various eras in the cavernous lobby, from the '20s Charleston dresses through to pop art prints. A classic Jaguar E-type sits by the entrance to the hotel, but guests can make use of the complimentary BMW car service to get around town (I join two other guests on a ride to the local ice hockey stadium to see the Canucks play).
My "Signature Ofuro Room" is spacious, with a comfortable king-size bed, large desk, two leather armchairs and ample storage space. The bathroom of this particular room is enormous, decked out in grey marble with a large shower and vanity sink, but the highlight is the deep, Japanese-style spa bath. The bathroom overlooks the harbour, allowing you to sit in the spa and watch the float planes, ships and birds as they come and go.
Though I have seen similar offerings in other countries, the hotel says it is the first in Canada to offer room controls and services through an iPad, which can control the lights and blinds, as well as make requests from guest services.
Speaking of which, the cleaners do an exceptional job, not just making the bed and hanging towels, but tidying up everything from my toiletries to putting the items I'd left on the bedside table into a compartmentalised tray. Wi-Fi is not included and carries a hefty daily fee – unless you're a member of Fairmont parent Accor's Le Club loyalty scheme, which is free to join.
With its abundant seafood and multicultural population, Vancouver is one of Canada's great food cities. This is apparent at Botanist, the hotel's signature restaurant, which offers an inventive range of dishes making use of local produce. It's hard to go past the butter poached lobster with acorn squash and fennel, but I opt for dry-aged duck breast with quince, carrots and a confit duck leg roulade. It's rich and delicious.
There's also a creative cocktail list filled with amusing names, such as Rye 'N' Reynolds, a tribute to the Vancouver-born Hollywood star. Botanist is not cheap, but you get what you pay for and it's considered one of the best restaurants in the city. See botanistrestaurant.com
If you're new to Vancouver a great way to get a taste of the city is through a cycling tour. It's a bike-friendly city with plenty of separated lanes. Cycle City Tours, a short walk from the hotel, can take you out of the city itself and into beautiful Stanley Park.
On stops along the way, the guides will explain the history of the city, its original First Nation inhabitants, as well as the flora and fauna of the park itself (there are various animals living in the park, including a family of beavers at the aptly named Beaver Lake). See cyclevancouver.com
If you prefer to make your own way, the hotel offers stylish BMW bikes for guests free of charge (charges apply if you want to use an e-bike).
The Fairmont Pacific Rim offers everything you could want in a luxury hotel, with stylish environs and impeccable service.
Rooms at the Fairmont Pacific Rim start from $C549 per night.
The cleaners went so far as to take the loose change I'd spread on the desk and neatly pile it into a stack. That attention to detail is hard to find these days.
In-house restaurant Botanist also serves breakfast but hotel buffet fans may be disappointed to find there's only a la carte options available.
The writer stayed as a guest of Fairmont Pacific Rim and British Columbia Tourism.