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Haunted hotel? Fairmont Hotel Vancouver REVIEW

MARK HARADA and his family check into an historic Vancouver hotel, where the past is not in the past ... in more ways than one.


It’s just after 9pm. My partner and young daughter are out and I’m sitting at the work desk in our beautiful room at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Suddenly, the lights flicker, flicker again and then switch off altogether. The black-out is brief – no more than a few minutes – so I think nothing of it, until the next day, when a friend of ours – an Aussie who used to live in Vancouver – asks me if I’m aware of the stories around the ghost that inhabits the hotel. 


I am not. But as someone who’s not entirely dismissive of the idea of ghosts, I can’t help but think that maybe the ‘Lady in Red’, the name by which Vancouver’s most famous spirit goes, played a part in the events of last night. 



Perhaps it had been a gentle reminder – to nix the work and instead venture outside of the hotel, which is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. 


On the doorstep of the Fairmont is the most well known shopping and dining precinct in the city – Robson Street – while nearby Robson Square feels like the centre of town, where government offices and law courts mix with outdoor ice-skating rinks, expansive waterfalls and prominent attractions like Vancouver Art Gallery


Just a short walk in the other direction is the popular Vancouver Harbour waterfront, while just beyond that lies historic Gastown



But the Fairmont Vancouver is an attraction in itself. 


Known as the ‘Castle in the Sky’ and often by its previous official moniker, Hotel Vancouver, this heritage property feels like it’s part of the fabric of the city. And as the oldest, large hotel in Vancouver (at more than 80 years of age), indeed it is. 


On the outside, the Fairmont Vancouver draws the eye with its stunning Châteauesque-style architecture, but it gets even better inside. 



In the main lobby and ground floor public space, the recently renovated hotel combines classic furnishings with contemporary cool, like the large spikey chandeliers. I especially like the suitcase coffee tables. 


Past the new check-in area, we find Notch8 Restaurant, where guests can dine at almost any time of day – be it over cornbread hotcakes at breakfast or wild mushroom tartine and whole trout at dinner – or just enjoy a local beer or BC wine whilst admiring the old photos of trains (Hotel Vancouver is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels). Plus, if you’re dining with children under five, they’ll eat for free.



The hotel also caters for pets – and if you wander past the concierge desk, chances are you’ll run into one of the hotel’s cute canine ambassadors, Ella and Elly. This is probably my four-year-old’s favourite feature of the hotel, of course.


Just beyond this, a lift takes you up to the fitness centre and swimming pool annex, which lies beneath a beautiful glass ceiling. Elsewhere on the wellness front, there are physiotherapy, yoga and pilates classes at Sitka.



But the true test of any hotel is in its accommodation … and the rooms at the Fairmont pass with flying colours. 


Our One Bedroom Suite is divided into two distinct rooms by traditional glass doors. 


In the large living area, classical furniture comprising a pull-out sofa, two armchairs and a desk are spaced out around an entertainment unit, which is highlighted by a flat-screen TV loaded with cable television, pay-per-view movies and video check-out. 



The smart-looking combination of beige, dark and light colours continues in the bedroom, where elegant lamps light up a comfy king bed without masking the city views outside.


Compared to the rest of the suite, the bathroom is a little on the small size, but it’s clean and has everything we need including luxurious Le Labo toiletries.  


After a short stay here, I understand why even the dead don’t want to leave. 



The writer was a guest of the hotel. All transportation was provided by DriveAway.




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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 7 February 2020

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