Vancouver’s Historic Waldorf Hotel and Tiki Room

Comments 9 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Slated to re-open in November, the Waldorf Hotel in East Vancouver is currently undergoing major restorations and renovations. Located along a lonely stretch of East Hastings, this historic landmark is set to revitalize creative arts and nightlife in this area of town.

The Waldorf Hotel - Vancouver, BC
Photo credit: kk+ on Flickr

While it features a dining room, hotel, cafe, cabaret, salon, and gift shop, by far the most unique feature of the Waldorf is its Tiki Room.

Waldorf Hotel Reconstruction
Photo credit: kk+ on Flickr

“The Waldorf Hotel, designed in 1947 by architects Mercer & Mercer, was remarkable from the beginning for its modernist style. In 1955, capitalizing on an emerging interest in Polynesian culture, the complex was transformed into one of North America’s most renowned tiki themed bars and hotels. A post-war phenomenon, tiki culture was rooted partially in the nostalgic tropical memories of returned soldiers but also in the erotic fantasies of a middle class fascinated by the exotic and forbidden. The original architects reworked existing interiors, creating a space dedicated to artifice and escapism.” [source]

The Waldorf Hotel Reconstruction The Waldorf Hotel - Vancouver, BC The Waldorf Hotel - Vancouver, BC
Photo credit: kk+ on Flickr

The Tiki Room has remained intact during the renovation process and for good reason, as its historic significance is unmatched. Themed in the early 50s, it is one of the oldest Tiki Bars of its kind in the world (rumoured only to be surpassed by one San Francisco establishment).

Waldorf Hotel Reconstruction
Photo credit: kk+ on Flickr

Aside from cashing in on a trend, I was once told that the artifacts found in the room are from the owner’s trip to the South Pacific, including a painting of a naked Polynesian woman that hangs on the wall. The small flower garland worn by the woman was painted-on after it was hung up at the Waldorf (this was to comply with BC liquor board laws at the time).

Photo credit: kk+ on Flickr

The Waldorf’s multi-room grand re-opening party will take place October 30th and after that it will be a new hub for dancing, DJs, coffee chats, workshops, unconferences, tweetups, meetups, rock shows, and more.

Photos and fact-checking courtesy of Kris Krug.

9 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. RachelMonday, October 18th, 2010 — 11:59am PDT

    This looks like such a cool spot!
    I can’t wait to visit and get my mai tai on!

  2. keraMonday, October 18th, 2010 — 12:32pm PDT

    had many a fun night in this venue… so glad to see it reopening!!! I hope they don’t mess with the retro design too much, because it’s simply perfect the way it was.

  3. MichaelMonday, October 18th, 2010 — 4:04pm PDT

    This looks like a wicked spot. I would definitely hit up the Tiki Room once its up and running.

  4. KyleMonday, October 18th, 2010 — 5:27pm PDT

    This is great news! I can remember going to the Blue Lizard Tiki Lounge years ago. This place is such an awesome and unique venue.

  5. VancityAllieMonday, October 18th, 2010 — 11:38pm PDT

    I LOVED this post Rebecca. I can’t wait for this to open. Looks like it will be super fun.

  6. i heart rachabeesTuesday, October 19th, 2010 — 12:04am PDT

    […] Wow, I need someone to go with me to the Tiki Bar at The Waldorf when it reopens. […]

  7. ShannonTuesday, October 19th, 2010 — 2:49pm PDT

    My Mom used to take me there for Polynesian-style curry, it was delicious and nowhere else have I been served curry that way – on a big platter with little slots for different condiments like raisins, onion, chutney, etc. It was an exciting eating experience! I hope they bring that back too!

  8. MargaretWednesday, October 20th, 2010 — 3:57am PDT

    I love the part about the flower being painted on to “comply” with BC liquor laws, oh old ancient British Columbia….lol! Remember the days when pubs were closed on Sundays, we’ve come a long way!!!! Thanks for sharing this story Rebecca, always a treat!

  9. Rick ChungSunday, October 31st, 2010 — 8:03pm PDT

    The Waldorf Grand Opening XO Halloween Party ::

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