Let's begin with a little quiz. What would be your guess as to the best hotel in Canada? It would have to be one of those sprawling chateau-like establishments in the middle of a dense forest backed by a craggy snow-capped peak? Well, no. It would be, at least according to the American readers of the respected Conde Nast Traveler magazine, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel. In 2017, the magazine's discerning readers voted it the best hotel in Canada, relegating a host of perfectly excellent, outstanding even, other establishment across the land of the maple leaf and impeccable manners. This traveler, er, traveller, is not entirely surprised by the esteem in which the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is held. I checked in here 20 or so years ago on my first visit to Canada, in order to break a connecting flight to distant Toronto, and maintain fond memories of my stay.
The 386-room hotel is built atop the main terminal of the pleasant Vancouver International Airport, conveniently located for a good many of its guests above the US departures area. The affection for the hotel may also lie in the fact that the facility in which it operates is also so well-respected, having been consistently and deservedly voted North America's best airport.
When it opened nearly two decades ago, Fairmont Vancouver Airport was at forefront of the new era of airport hotels that were more akin to their better city-based equivalents than glorified holding cells. The hotel's high-rise tower dominates the terminal buildings and will likely represent your first sight of the airport as you arrive by air or road. Despite the fact the hotel is nearly 20 years, Fairmont Vancouver Airport still feels modern and inviting, though a revamp can't be too far away. For the jet-lagged, or the fully compos mentis, there's an indoor pool and spa.
Unlike my previous visit all those years ago when I stayed overnight, my room, unusually spacious room for an airport hotel, is on a day-use basis only. But while my stay is brief it's enough to appreciate that the hotel's appeal is undimmed. The fully sound-proofed room, with a sizeable bathroom, is light-filled, with pleasant views of the airport and aircraft movements. The hotel's deluxe category rooms, located on the higher floors and perfect for your inner – or otherwise – plane-spotter, provide complimentary access to the airport's Plaza Premium Lounges situated beyond security.
The main restaurant serves, Globe@YVR (named after the airport's official three letter code) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves local Pacific north-west cuisine. However, the focal point of the hotel is the convivial Jetside Bar, where there's live music seven nights a week as a well as a tapas menu and afternoon tea also served daily. Of course, in the terminal itself there's the usual array of airport fare.
It's unlikely, this being an airport hotel, that you'll be exploring the local area, but during your stay you can come and go from the hotel as you please should you or need to access the terminal's facilities and services. Keep an eye out for the array of impressive indigenous artworks, including totems, spread throughout the terminal.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel, and for that matter, Vancouver International Airport, deserves the accolades it continues to garner. If you are flying into Vancouver after the long-haul flight from Australia, and if you're then heading onto other Canadian or US capitals, a day-use or overnight stay here makes great sense. It's also worth checking into the hotel to relax and freshen-up in the hours prior to your return flight to Australia.
Doubles start from $C305 for a full stay (day use rooms are available only between 8am and 8pm) Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel, Vancouver International Airport, 3111 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, British Columbia. See fairmont.com/VancouverAirport
Here's a full-service airport hotel that, were it transplanted to an ordinary location, would still rank as a fine place to stay.
Checking out after so brief a stay and having to confront the long flight home after a typically pleasurable visit to Canada.
Anthony Dennis travelled to Canada as a guest of Destination British Columbia. See hellobc.com