This article is part of a guide to Vancouver from FT Globetrotter

For thousands of years, Vancouver was home to the tallest trees in the world. The land where the city centre stands today was part of a rich, old-growth forest, and Douglas firs (evergreen conifers that can grow to 55m tall) lined the banks of False Creek, the body of water that forms a U-shape around the southern edge of the downtown peninsula. Then came colonisation and the start of clear-cutting logging practices . . . and here we are. 

The design of The Douglas, a boutique-style hotel from the Autograph Collection (an upscale group under Marriott’s umbrella) that opened in 2017, aims to tell this story from the get-go. The lobby desk is a replica Douglas fir tree trunk, cross-sectioned (and back-lit) to show what it would look like leaving a lumber mill. The hotel’s lifts, with hundreds of lights, though excellent Instagram fodder are meant to emulate a mine shaft, while the dark, moody floors that house the bedrooms are inspired by the forest, taking guests back to the start of the city’s story. If this all sounds weighty and serious, it’s anything but: the result is a chic and comfortable stay, with a point of view.

The exterior of The Douglas: a glass-fronted, pinkish rectangular building
The Douglas’s location is ideal for exploring the highlights around False Creek © Jeremy Segal
Greenery and paths in the hotel’s sixth-floor park, surrounded by glass-fronted buildings
The hotel’s sixth-floor green space © Jeremy Segal

The forestry theme gently extends to the spacious, mid-century-modern-inspired bedrooms, where the large, comfortable beds have tiled wooden headboards with built-in lighting and plaid woollen throws, and furniture is largely in earthy tones. (There are also three luxury, apartment-style suites, which each have unique design themes and are, quite frankly, very cool.) Floor-to-ceiling windows let in loads of light (while blackout curtains block it out entirely) and offer fantastic views of BC Place stadium, False Creek and the cityscape beyond. 

The complex’s rooftop deck and whirlpool
The complex’s rooftop deck and whirlpool © Jeremy Segal

Sustainability is another focus here, from the sixth-floor park meant to offset the hotel’s carbon footprint to the hundreds of native pines and local flora living on site. The stylish guest bathrooms, with marble, brass and wood accents, earn eco points for providing full-size, refillable Aesop toiletries. Bedrooms don’t include mini fridges but YETI cool boxes, an effort to reduce electricity consumption and encourage guests to go outside. 

Should a picnic not be for you, places to eat and drink on site include D/6, the Douglas’s elegant rooftop lounge that specialises in artisanal cocktails (try the in-house Douglas fir gin), and surf-and-turf spot The Victor. The Douglas is also part of the Parq Vancouver complex, an entertainment development of sorts that includes 10 eateries and bars, so there are plenty of other options at your fingertips.

At a glance:

  • Not so good for: It’s in a bit of an odd entertainment complex with a casino, a handful of eateries and another hotel (though this doesn’t hinder the guest experience at the hotel itself)

  • FYI: The location is pretty unbeatable for exploring the highlights around False Creek, from neighbouring Yaletown to Granville Island (via one of the city’s adorable Aquabuses), or for anyone in town for a sporting event or concert at one of the nearby arenas

  • Rooms and suites: 163 rooms and 25 suites

  • Spa: No, but guests can use the spa and rooftop whirlpool at the JW Marriott that’s part of the same complex

  • Gym: Yes, a small one, and guests can use the much larger gym at the JW Marriott too

  • Doubles: From C$499 (about $373/£295)

  • Address: 45 Smithe Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3

  • Website; Directions

Niki Blasina was a guest of The Douglas

Tell us about your favourite Vancouver stays in the comments below. And follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter

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