Six of the best: Places to stay in British Columbia, Canada

HOTEL VANCOUVER, VANCOUVER

Even by the standards of its Australian urban counterparts, unapologetically modern Vancouver is a relatively young city, having been founded only in 1886. But for a taste of the city's past there's no better accommodation choice than the historic 556-room Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which dates to the glory days of Canada's railways. Nicknamed the "Castle in the City", due to its distinctive copper-turreted roof design, and opened in 1939, the centrally located, almost New York-style, "Grand Dame" was the subject of a recent $C12 million makeover. The refurbishment included a stylish revamp of the restaurant and bar, which now feature a subtle railways theme. Doubles from $C279. See fairmont.com/HotelVancouver

WICKANINNISH INN, TOFINO, VANCOUVER ISLAND

An iconic 76-room resort, located right in the middle of Tofino, Vancouver Island's surfing capital (yes, it's true), the Wickaninnish Inn is strikingly set next to an expansive sandy beach overlooking the Pacific. Reminiscent of the best of New Zealand's renowned luxury lodges, many of the "Wick Inn's" well-appointed rooms (complete with wet and wild weather gear for storm-chasing winter months) offer stunning sea views. But the vista piece de resistance is the resort's in-house Pointe Restaurant, with wraparound picture windows delivering knockout panoramas.

Doubles from $C260, low-season. See wickinn.com

SPARKLING HILL RESORT, OKANAGAN VALLEY

An hour or so by air from Vancouver, the Okanagan Valley, a somewhat obscure corner of British Columbia for Australians, is one of North America's top emerging wine regions. The ultra-modern Sparkling Hill Resort, between the small cities of Kelowna and Vernon, has an emphasis on wellness with nearly a dozen sauna and spa rooms and special nature-inspired "shower experiences". And the resort really does sparkle since it was the vision of Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the eponymous Austrian crystals clan. In fact, there are no less than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals embedded throughout the resort, designed to create a sense of calm and serenity.

Doubles from $350. See sparklinghill.com

EMPRESS HOTEL, VICTORIA, VANCOUVER ISLAND

Yet another member of the Fairmont group of hotels, which boasts a portfolio of impressive historic establishments between Canada's east and west coasts, the Empress not only dominates the harbour-front of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, it also defines the city in a way few hotels anywhere manage to do. Dating to the early 20th century and fashioned as a tribute to Queen Victoria, the Empress has emerged from a successful, though controversial major refurbishment, that included the removal of the famous spread of ivy that covered part of its facade as well a bold updating of its main restaurant and bar. The afternoon teas are legendary, especially among Americans from across the nearby US-Canada frontier.

Doubles from $C245. See fairmont.com/empress-victoria

CHATEAU WHISTLER, WHISTLER

Although outdoorsy Vancouverites can famously ski in winter after work in the mountains that loom above the city, nothing quite matches the majestic appeal of Whistler, North America's biggest ski resort. This sprawling Fairmont-run resort is the perfect, if not obvious, place to stay in Whistler whether for a winter or summer stay or for the seasons in between. Especially pleasing and inviting are the wood-clad public spaces including a grand double-sided fireplace beside which a drink or two on the comfy sofas is highly recommended.

Doubles from $C319. See fairmont.com/Whistler

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VANCOUVER AIRPORT HOTEL, VANCOUVER

Vancouver International Airport consistently and deservedly rates as North America's best airport (faint praise, perhaps, though it really is outstanding) with its superb airport hotel – embedded in the terminal just about the US departures – equally lauded. Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is a fine option if you desire rest after you arrive or depart, with day use rooms available for those travelling through the airport. There are also good of views of the airport and the surrounding semi-rural location from the capacious guest rooms as well as the lively restaurant and bar. Doubles from $C279 a night. See fairmont.com/vancouver-airport-richmond/

Anthony Dennis was a guest of Destination British Columbia and the featured hotels and resorts. See hellobc.com.au

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