Downtown vibes and views await at the Shangri-La Vancouver - Hotel Insider

The first Shangri-La hotel to open in North America is also the tallest building in this western Canadian city

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It's not hard to spot the Shangri-La Vancouver.

Along with its sleek and modern exterior design, the five-star hotel features a striking facade of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a contemporary aesthetic and it's also the tallest building in the Canadian city.

The 62-storey structure – which opened its doors in 2009 – was also the first North American outpost for the popular luxury hotelier.

In addition to being a five-star hotel, the towering building also houses offices and condominium apartments, making it a prominent landmark in Vancouver's vibrant downtown area.

Air Canada recently launched a new direct route from Dubai to Vancouver, so The National hopped across to British Columbia to check in at the hotel in the heart of this Canadian city.

The welcome

The Shangri-La Vancouver rather uniquely has two entrances on different floors of the hotel. The lower lobby is for those arriving by vehicle while the ground-level lobby is accessible for those coming in from the surrounding streets by foot.

When I'm there, the lobbies are never too packed but seem to be filled with a mix of travellers staying at the hotel, as well as city dwellers who live in the condos on the higher floors, as evidenced by a dog walker with an adorable pooch on a leash as we arrive.

In the lower lobby, my check-in is swift and easy, and I'm offered ginger honey tea while going through the easy process of showing my passport to complete the proc ess.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is a short 15-to-20-minute car ride from Vancouver International Airport. It is centrally located in the downtown area of the city, meaning it's close to several restaurants and cafes.

There’s an Equinox gym, Urban Fare gourmet grocery shop and decent steakhouse all within the surrounding blocks.

It is also less than a five-minute walk to Robson Street, one of Vancouver's oldest commercial streets, and a bustling shopping area for tourists and residents.

There is plenty to do in this part of town, whether it’s shopping at chic boutiques and upscale shops or visiting trendy cafes and eateries or going to an underground mall.

There’s also the nearby Coal Harbour, with casual and upscale waterside restaurants, that is about a 10-minute walk.

For those who are keen for an outdoor adventure, the neighbourhood also has picturesque parks that include bike paths, and are good for relaxing strolls or jogs.

The room

Hotel rooms are spread across the first 15 floors of the building and I'm on the seventh floor in an executive balcony king room with magnificent views of downtown.

The room features earthy tones, with shades of brown, taupe, beige and light grey that create an inviting atmosphere. Being a corner room, it is filled with natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.

The room has two balconies, one of which is accessible from the bathroom. From these, I can see the towering skyscrapers of Vancouver's urban buzz but also catch glimpses of the mountains and waterfront in the distance.

Despite being a single room, there is a separate sitting and working area facing the king-size bed.

The bathroom is impressive, with a marble-clad walk-in shower, a deep-soaking bathtub and a mirror-embedded television. The room is stocked with L’Occitane toiletries, plush bathrobes and slippers.

The minibar is stocked with various chargeable drinks and the room has complimentary tea, coffee, water and a lovely welcome fruit basket.

The service

The staff – from housekeeping to room service – are efficient, and everyone I speak to lives up to the Canadian stereotype of overt friendliness.

They are helpful in offering suggestions about where to go and what to do. While I'm usually out during the day and don't interact much with the housekeeping staff, they greet me warmly whenever our paths cross.

The scene

The hotel has a well-equipped fitness centre and an outdoor pool, which offers a rare, serene escape from the bustling city.

There is also Chi, the spa that provides a tranquil environment inspired by traditional Asian healing philosophies.

It offers a range of treatments that promote relaxation and well-being. Each suite in the spa has its own fireplace, private bath, shower relaxation lounge and changing and vanity areas.

While the hotel does not have a dedicated kids' club, families can request services such as babysitting or child care.

Guests who want to explore the city and its surroundings can also book various excursions through the hotel's concierge service.

The food

Carlino, an Italian place on the third floor, is the sole restaurant in the hotel. It has notably earned recognition in the Vancouver Michelin Guide as a recommended dining destination.

The menu focuses on Italian cuisine from Friuli, the same region from which the owner’s family hails. Inside, it's cosy and welcoming with tan and caramel banquettes, live acoustic music and plenty of natural light streaming through the windows.

The all-day eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The restaurant makes its own fresh pasta in-house daily and designs a menu that goes with the seasons.

Some highlights from dinner include the pane della casa and marinated olives frico (Dh51), the thinly sliced carpaccio di manzo con tartufo (Dh57); francobolli – a veal ossobuco stuffed pasta, (Dh97) and the tagliata di manzo, which is a rib-eye served with crispy mint potatoes (Dh157).

And for dessert, the chocolate cannoli (Dh35) is recommended.

Highs and lows

The hotel is in a spectacular location with plenty to do within walking distance – which should come in handy regardless of the seasons.

However, because of its central location, those on a lower floor might hear the hustle and bustle of city life, which might be a hindrance to some.

The insider tip

Ask for a corner room with a view.

The verdict

An excellent choice for those seeking luxury accommodation in a prime downtown location.

The bottom line

Room-only prices start from $455, before taxes and fees; check-in from 3pm, checkout until noon;

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future

Updated: June 07, 2024, 6:00 PM