One thing seems universally synonymous when looking at metropolitan West Coast cities to visit, everybody loves Vancouver. From the friendly locals, beautiful crisp weather, parks, museums and safe historic walking areas teaming with bars and cafes, it’s the perfect getaway for a romantic couple, family with kids, elderly tourists and true foodies - allegedly, they have more restaurants per capita than New York, Toronto and Las Vegas.
One of the top areas to start exploring is Yaletown near the Opus Hotel. Not only is it conveniently located near the Sky Train stop from the airport, Waterfront and Gastown, it’s a prime spot for taking a walk past blocks of top bars, cafes, restaurants and shops just outside the trendy glass doors. This hotel has actually been named one of the ‘top five trendiest hotels in the world’ as well as one of the ‘best for business.’
The primarily black and white post-modern signature suites with touches of bright pink and silver are spacious enough to be an apartment with a fully fitted living room, bar area, dual fireplace, desk area and two bathrooms – one includes a giant soaking tub, and a terrace off the bedroom. Perks include the iPads and Samsung Gallaxy S3 Smart Phones for guests to use during their stay and the complementary house Jaguar that will take you to nearby restaurants and attractions on a first-come basis.
Off the lobby bar, the on-site La Pentola restaurant serves family style Italian tasting menus conceived by Chef Lucais Syme. A la carte masterpieces include the poached asparagus with quails egg and grated prosciutto or the pappardelle with fennel sausage, porcini and pecorino.
When you do tear yourself away from the hotel and neighboring pastimes, such as arts and crafts focused Granville Island, you should take a walk or carriage ride around Stanley Park. You can jump off and take pictures by the totem poles, test your balance at the nearby suspension bridge or just stop and smell the rose garden while you check out the local artists.
Continue your city tour to the cobblestone streets of Gastown past the British pubs to Chinatown and a stroll through the Lilly-pad laden and tranquil Chinese Gardens – a true oasis in the middle of the city. One hot tip that was not in any guide book or mentioned by any hotel concierge is Top of Vancouver (555 Hastings Street). While it sounds touristy, and yes, crowds are waiting on line to take an elevator up over 500 feet above the city, if you go to the revolving restaurant first you will bypass the crowds and relax with a drink or snack while viewing the entire city which takes about an hour. This is a quiet place to perch for an afternoon break before heading out for a night on the town.
Located inside the historic Hotel Georgia, Hawksworth Restaurant (801 West Georgia Street), is probably the most celebrated eatery in the city and after you try Chef David Hawksworth’s tasting menu you will mostly likely jump on the bandwagon. A series of tasteful and understated glamorous rooms lead from a swanky cocktail-lounge with a Damien Hirst painting, to an expansive glass wine cellar and a giant picture window overlooking the museum across the street until the final abstract art room featuring a work by Rodney Graham. Try to order a tasting menu with wine pairings that might include the sublime English pea agnolotti with lemon ricotta and chilli or the signature duck breast and confit crepe with brown butter jus.
After dinner, be sure to leave time to hit the upstairs bar Reflections - especially if you are single. The giant lounge with a clubby atmosphere and killer cocktails has been dubbed one of the best places to meet a date. So, drop your iPhones and iPads and starting mingling. This is one of the friendliest cities on the planet after all. www.tourismvancouver.com