Tech Friendly Boutique Hotels in Vancouver

Comments 11 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Looking for a funky web savvy boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver that won’t break the bank? Recently Mark from Chicago contacted me through the blog to ask about such a place since he’ll be coming to town this fall.

I don’t want to pay stratospheric prices […] Is there a smaller, classy, tech-friendly place you could recommend?

Mark’s email stated what he was looking for:

– Close to downtown city center.
– Not a corporate chain ( i.e. no Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, etc.).
– Ideally something more “boutique”, artsy, good for a web 2.0 geek.
– Close to public transportation and ethnic restaurants.
– Maybe close to Stanley Park.
– No stratospheric prices, but something between 3 and 4 star.

Although there’s no shortage of amazingly tasty ethnic food everywhere you go, I’ve done a little digging, put the word out, and come up with the following places to stay (with help from Dave, and Jordan).

  • The Kingston ** I know the restaurant/pub has a fantastic rooftop patio but didn’t know there was a hotel/b&b at that location as well, go figure. Rooms appear to be from $55 to $160 a night, with continental breakfast and yes, they do have wifi. [Google Map]
  • Pacific Palisades **** Just off Robson street it’s in the downtown core but still a nice walking distance to Stanley Park. From $220 a night, ADSL internet in room. [Google Map]
  • the sky tonight Blue Horizon **** Located near the Palisades on Robson, I always see people doing brunch outside when I walk by. From $164 a night during peak.
    [Google Map]
  • Opus Hotel **** Slightly pricey (from $300 during peak season) but hip and full of style. High speed wifi and wired internet throughout the hotel. 1 restaurant and 2 bars, and the manager’s even got a blog. [Google Map]
  • The Listel Hotel **** Artsy hotel on the inside but not so much on the outside save for a giant orange, metal pretzel-looking piece. Rates from $209 a night ($50-$150 during the off season). It’s got a great location though, on the “quieter” side on Robson and close’r’ to the park. [Google Map]
  • Le Soleil **** Beautiful little boutique hotel tucked away in the financial district. From $260 a night during peak tourist season it also has wifi.[Google Map]
  • The Buchan Hotel *** Tucked away among the walk-ups of the West End, only 2 blocks from Stanley Park and Lost Lagoon, everyone always forgets about the Buchan. Looking at their rates they seem pretty reasonable ($90 to start, during the season) and it’s also only 2 blocks from Denman Street – where you can catch any bus and eat anything from African Fusion to Montreal-style BBQ. (Unsure about internet availability though) [Google Map]
  • The Sylvia Hotel **** Charming heritage hotel right at English Bay and beside the entrance to Stanley Park. Rates during the season start at $110. Do a Flickr search for photos to see the Sylvia [Google Map]
  • I can think of a couple more hotels but the goal is to be “non-chain” but also “non-nasty”. If all else fails, stay outside of downtown and just hop a bus in, I hear the view from the Holiday Inn on Broadway is lovely…

    If anyone has any more to add to the list (downtown only to start) please feel free to submit it in the comments, thanks!

    At this point I’m seriously wondering when Tourism Vancouver is going to start sending some monetary love my way, this is the second out-of-town reader I’ve helped within the last week. At least I hope this helps, have a good time in Vancity, Mark!

    Updates and reader submissions below:

  • Wedgewood Hotel ***** Submitted by Charlene – Starting at $308 during the season, The Wedgewood is centrally located downtown across from Robson Square, just South of the Vancouver Art Gallery. It looks super nice from the photos yet I’m unsure about internet access — note to hotels in Vancouver, this is a big selling point. [Google Map]
  • Carmana Plaza **** Submitted by Mom604 – Rooms start at $350 during the summer and seem to book up pretty fast so they must be doing something right. Off Robson, near lots of restaurants (and a liquor store…), view of the mountains. No word on internet access on their website [Google Map]
  • Update: A nice mention of this post by Vacant Ready “100% Occupied by Hotel People”. They suggested the following hotel, which I’ve added to the list:

    “The only addition I would probably make would be Moda Hotel on Seymour Street. This is a renovated heritage property with still more interesting reno projects to come in the restaurant and wine bar. Rates are definitely on the budget side (summer rates start at $119), so it might be worth checking out.” [VacantReady]

    Happy Birthday Alanah!

    Comments 7 by Rebecca Bollwitt

    I usually don’t do Happy Birthday posts, well okay sometimes I do and I make them REALLY sappy and toss in some childhood photos and tell my mom, dad and Jenny that I love them very much (which reminds me I have to do a post for my brother in October cause I love him too)… BUT I just wanted to give a shout out to Alanah.

    The Two Female Podcasters of

    The Two Female Podcasters of The Crazy Canucks

    Alanah’s a female sports blogger, yes they exist, and not only that she’s been doing it for years and years and is a part of a hyper mega hockey blogging empire.

    She doesn’t come out to conferences (although we tell her she should) cause she’s waaay over on Vancouver Island, but she’d be my choice to lead a discussion on hockey blogging, going from blogger to professional sports media vixen or even interviewing skills (in person or over Skype). She’s an integral part of The Crazy Canucks podcast and always manages to make me laugh… or feel bad for having a beer even though I bet she’s usually all wine-d up when she says that to me anyway.

    We’re planing on meeting up with her this weekend when she’s in town, having some of those beers, sharing some laughs and talking about our world domination through hockey podcasting… okay we’ll settle for Vancouver domination. If I can’t get Trevor to hop inside a large novelty cake for you by Saturday, I hope this blog post will do – Happy Birthday Alanah!

    Update: Interesting side note… apparently Alanah’s birthday is really big news in the online hockey-talkin’ world….


    The First Third Tuesday Vancouver

    Comments 5 by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Last night John and I headed to the Soho Billiard Cafe in Yaletown to meetup with some folks as a part of Vancouver’s new Third Tuesday group.

    THIRD TUESDAY is a monthly meetup for communications and marketing folks interested in learning/sharing more about the practical applications of social media in business. Third Tuesday has real world chapters and meetups in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.

    Third Tuesday meetups typically include a guest speaker who talks with the group about different social media technologies and trends ranging from blogging, podcasting, social networks to influencer marketing and online WOM techniques — and how these things apply to communication, marketing, community building and society…

    …Third Tuesday is also an opportunity to simply network with industry peers, to share knowledge, experiences and perhaps a few laughs and drinks too. So, if you’re interested in some thought provoking discussion about new media marketing and communications, please join us for Third Tuesday. [From the Facebook group via John’s post]

    Yesterday was simply a meet n’ great to get a feeling of the crowd that would be coming out to such events. What do we want to see more of, who would make a great guest speaker etc.

    Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

    I’m not scared to attend a social media, bloggy, podcasty type event in Vancouver although I don’t do enough of it “professionally” e.g. for my career and not Truth be told, I’ve been in the online media industry for 7 years, worked at a newswire for 3, and am the Media Specialist for my current job. So even if there was no blog talk at all (although highly unlikely) I’d still be getting a lot of out these events.

    It was also really nice to see some familiar faces (from Barcamp, Northern Voice, the podcast meetup etc.) and new ones from around the marketing, PR, writing and tech community in this city.

    All in all it was a good evening and I’m interested to see how these events will unfold going forward. Here’s a couple things I actually learned last night.

  • Kerry Anne told me at Barcamp that they got their business cards for the podcast for free. The only catch is that the company, Vista Print, gives you template backgrounds and they print their company name on the back, which isn’t a bad exchange. After having no cards at all to give anyone last night (I’m outta moo cards), I think it’s time I perused VP’s website… or just get more moo printed.
  • Travis Smith brought up an interesting little tidbit about the English language. Did you know it’s the only language in which you can place a noun after itself to actually describe it further? Yep, he’s tried it in French and apparently you just can’t do it with Russian either. Example: Shortly after this conversation I looked over at John and said, “Did you bring the camera camera?” meaning, did you bring our digital camera and not just your phone to take pictures with. It was all rather funny. But like, funny funny.
  • Lastly, the ‘man cycle’. Tod Maffin has a fantastic electric scooter that I was lucky enough to ride around the patio last night. The battery lasts for 50km, it goes 42km/h, it looks pretty sweet and I really want one now, please. You can view video which he filmed from the Mancycle, on his way to Third Tuesday last night.
  • Breakfast in Vancouver: Roscoe's on Robson

    Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day, so I’m told. Around Vancouver there are a few gems, you know those places that aren’t pretentious ($8 for a slice of cantaloupe and a grape) and that have a unique, individual charm. I like establishments that serve up good food, a lot of it, for cheap, and that give me a comfortable experience. We used to head over to Hamburger Mary’s, I hear the Elbow Room is a must-visit, and John has a thing for the protein breakfast at White Spot, but by far we’ve come to love Roscoe’s the most.

    Photo credit:

    When you first walk in, you’d think you were at your grandma’s house, specifically my grandma’s house. There’s an easy chair, doilies, collector plates on the walls and cuckoo clocks. Lamps, table clothes and hutches filled with books just round out the decor. It’s not your average brunch spot in the city.

    Their daily special includes your choice of bacon or sausage with 2 eggs any style, and hashbrowns and toast. If John and I both order this and have a coffee each, our bill comes to $11. That’s right, $11 and we don’t walk away hungry. We’ve never been there for dinner, although it’s pretty ‘meat and potatoes’ and they serve up anything from cabbage rolls to schnitzel.

    We walked over to Roscoe’s recently to grab a bite but their infamous green awning was knocked down and there were work crews milling about the outside. The sign on the door said ‘closed’ and our hearts sank to our feet. We’re looking for answers now… is Roscoe’s just closed for renovations or do they suffer a more drastic fate? We’re also very open to more suggestions for a great spot to grab a greasy, hearty, filling, cheap, wholesome breakfast in town.

    Roscoe's in Vancouver

    Lack of Office Space in Vancouver

    Comments 11 by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Of the dozen construction sites I pass by on my walk to work, only one isn’t for a residential tower and that’s the new convention centre in Coal Harbour. It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a new condo development popping up.

    They tore down that old store around the corner, what’s going in there now? Condos. They finally decided to do something with that old grassed-over lot? Yeah it’s gonna be condos now. They demolished those houses? Yep, to make room for more condos.

    Downtown Vancouver has had years of dwindling office space due to condo conversions, the departure of head offices and a drought of new office-building construction. Vacancies are low and rents are high. [News1130]

    Sure there are small victories that pop into the news now and then, but I really don’t see much for an expansion in office space especially considering Vancouver is heavily responsible for the current ‘reverse brain-drain‘ [MontrealTechWatch]. Warehouses in Gastown that were once turning into start-up hipster offices are now being transformed into open-concept lofts for living.

    Where is everyone going to work? Industrial parks in the burbs spring to mind.

    If you’ve driven on Marine lately you’ll see a huge difference [Riverfront][BurnabyBusinessPark][GlenlyonParkway]. Along with the giant boxed stores come marketable subdivisions for anyone from water to tech companies. But does expanding out East and South from our downtown core help or hinder growing business in Vancouver itself?

    Photo credit: Bucky C. Arnold on Flickr

    This could very well be great news for Surrey who used to have Canada’s largest vacant office space, Central City. It currently has an empty building containing 90% of the city’s office space, which is completely empty and has been for almost a decade. There’s so much space out there in fact, that they’re dancing around the vacant rooms (literally) until business moves in.

    …a decade after the project was announced, the 275,000-square-foot structure remains vacant. Meanwhile, the city continues to celebrate the building, now known as the 104 Avenue Centre, as a testament to Surrey’s commercial promise… Next month, the mayor will hold her charity ball in the building for the second year in a row. [SurreyLeader]

    Even the once-vacant Central City is hot stuff.

    …sold for $245.75 million in what is believed to be British Columbia’s biggest real estate deal in history for a single property. []

    I think the message from the suburbs is, ‘we’re open for business’.

    If you look at other major cities sometimes the big hubs of business activity take place outside of downtown. When I lived in Boston I never once actually lived or worked in Boston proper. I was living in Cambridge and working in Watertown at the Arsenal on the Charles.

    Should ‘downtown’ then just be reserved for big banks, hotels and condos? For those who live and work in Yaletown, Davie Village, Coal Harbour, Gastown, the West End etc., should we be worried that reverse-commute will soon be in order? Would that be a horrible thing?

    I’m worried enough that my office will soon be moving from Gastown to Yaletown. Sure it’s 19 blocks from home compared to the 18 blocks distance I currently walk but we’ll be distancing ourselves from other like-minded businesses… and this is just a 2km relocation. I used to commute from Surrey via walking, bus and train, so I think I’ve just become a little too soft but it does help to be surrounded by peers and the buzz of the network.

    The expansion of business is Vancouver is definitely a plus, we just need (more) affordable places to put it all.

    I enjoy living downtown, and I enjoy not having a car and walking to work. I also like being able to stop off at London Drugs on my way home or hopping out to grab a steamed bun from Chinatown at lunch. I have nothing against the growing economy of the suburbs, I would just like to see more growth for business in the downtown core. But if I am going to start in on a wish list for downtown, I should really start with more affordable places to live, for everyone.