Posted by: Jerry Garrett | January 4, 2010

2010 Olympics: Vancouver’s Top 10 Hotels, Restaurants, Sightseeing

Expect fireworks, both literal and figurative, at Vancouver 2010 Olympics (Concierge photo)

Going to the 2010 Winter Olympics, in Vancouver, British Columbia? Wondering what the top 10 hotels are in Vancouver? How about the top 10 restaurants? Top attractions, besides the Games themselves? Here are some suggestions!

(For a longer version of this travel guide, with additional insights, check out “My 36 Hours in Vancouver, British Columbia“.)

Hotels

Surprisingly, there are rooms available in the Vancouver, pretty much throughout the period of the Winter Olympics, Feb. 12-28. My top suggestion, the St. Regis is booked solid, though. But the Shangri-La – a favorite with business travelers – or the boutiquey Wedgewood are available, for around $225-$250 a night. Add to that list The Sutton Place, Pan Pacific, Opus Hotel and Georgian Court – all highly regarded. Check out TripAdvisor’s website for more suggestions. Hilton, Renaissance, Four Seasons, Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt, Westin and Fairmont all have highly rated properties in the Vancouver area. Good hotels are a Vancouver specialty!

Vancouver also has a robust bed-and-breakfast “inn-dustry” and I have stayed in – and can recommend – the Manor Guest House, Barclay House, and O Canada House (where the Canadian national anthem is said to have been written).

Restaurants

For dinner, I can recommend no restaurant in Vancouver more highly than “Le Crocodile”. Without “pretense or fanfare” as the owners claim – meaning word-of-mouth alone is enough to keep it packed every open minute – this French/Westcoast fusion find still has most of the staff it opened with 25 years ago. Menus change daily. The wine list is sublime. If the staff remembers you, they will remember your favorites and serve them without prompting. Be aware this restaurant is expensive!

Diners on a more realistic budget can’t go wrong with choices such as Blue Water Cafe, RainCity Grill, or Le Bistro Chez Michel in downtown. Top ethnic choices include La Terrazza, Simply Thai or Chinatown’s venerable Sun Sui Wah.

Enjoy a standout brunch or meal anytime at the quaint Tea House Restaurant (formerly the Sequoia Grill), right in Stanley Park.

A delicious Sunday brunch, with farm-fresh ingredients, fair prices, waterfront ambience, a hip vibe with live jazz can be had at Nu.

Sightseeing

Stanley Park is a real wonder – and well worth your time, regardless of the season, or the weather. (By the way, Vancouver’s weather is usually warmer and a bit drier than Seattle’s.) The park is actually a lovingly preserved rainforest, right in downtown. The park is on a peninsula, out into the Strait of Georgia; trails crisscross the interior of the park (a thick forest of redwoods, cedars, ferns and flowers); wide pathways encircle it. In accommodating weather, bicyclists, rollerbladers and walkers seem to share it all with typical Canadian hospitality and polite manners (the trails also extend around all of downtown now). The views of Burrard Inlet, Lions Gate Bridge, bluish Coast Mountains and Vancouver’s modern skyline are not to be missed. Stroll, ride or walk through the park any time; bicycle rentals abound; I’ve used and can recommend Denman Bike Shop and Bayshore Bike Rentals.

Granville Island, just south of downtown, is an urban oasis of art galleries and studios, fine restaurants (most facing the lovely waterfront), craft stores and fresh food market with a dizzying array of choices. Unique foodstuffs include grass-fed buffalo, wild honeys, strange jams and jellies, and homemade ice cream, gelato and yoghurt. My favorite? Hard-to-find fireweed honey and jelly.

Gastown is noteworthy for its modern-day transformation from a seedy section of drug addicts and prostitutes. It is now a lovely, lively area of cobblestone streets, antique gaslights and a much-photographed steam-powered clock.

Other worthwhile attractions include the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia’s seaside campus, museums (particularly the Maritime), the Aquarium and Zoo, or Capilano Suspension Bridge (not for the faint of heart) and its scenic park. Major sports and special events can be seen at the new Canada Place (cruise ships also leave from here), General Motors Place, and BC Place arena. Unfortunately, the famous Commodore Ballroom doesn’t seem to have any concerts scheduled during the Olympics.

If you travel to the Olympic venues at Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain, you will enjoy the newly widened, safe, well-maintained Highway 99 (with beautiful views of Lions Bay and surrounding mountains). For the well-to-do: seaplane service (Harbour Air and Whistler Air are possibilities) from Vancouver Harbour, right to Rainbow Lake in Whistler. Other skiing options include Hemlock Valley (60 miles east) and – almost in downtown – Cypress Mountain.

Finally, if you are looking for a destination beyond Vancouver, a perfect day trip is to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Jerry Garrett

January 5, 2010

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Responses

  1. […] Read more: 2010 Winter Olympics: Vancouver Area Travel Guide […]


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