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

Ask any Vancouverite for the city’s best hotel and I guarantee they will say the Fairmont Pacific Rim, a stylish property set on Vancouver’s waterfront with spectacular views of the North Shore mountains. It’s popular with locals for luxury staycations and its excellent food and drink venues, but especially for the 8,500-square-foot spa, Willow Stream. Oh, and it’s where Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister (and former Vancouverite), holes up when he’s in town (and you might see him jogging along the nearby Seawall, a 28km waterside pathway that extends from the Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks beach).  

I can certainly see what all the fuss is about. Pacific Rim is far more than somewhere comfy to lay your head at night, but more of an urban resort with plenty to keep guests entertained.

A guest room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim with a view of the harbour and mountains beyond
Many of the rooms at the Fairmont Pacific Rim offer superb views © Brandon Barré

Its proposition is clear from the moment you step inside. Through the vast, marble-pillared lobby, past a large modern fireplace and a stage for regular live music sets, is RawBar, Vancouver’s first sustainable sushi bar that’s overseen by award-winning chef Masayoshi Baba, where diners can enjoy a quick bite and a drink or an upscale omakase.

A floor above is Botanist, the critically acclaimed bar and restaurant, adorned with lush plant life and gleaming brass, where executive chef Hector Laguna shines the spotlight on British Columbia’s abundance of produce, particularly sustainably sourced seafood and organically grown vegetables. Drinks are taken just as seriously as the food — beverage director Grant Scneye and head bartender Jeff Savage even have their own scientific-looking cocktail laboratory, where elegant yet whimsical concoctions inspired by the Pacific coast are developed, like the Council of Trees, a highball made with blended Scotch, Fino sherry, cedar, oak moss, birch sap, alder and cherrywood-smoked tea that is meant to reflect a deciduous forest on one of Vancouver’s not-so-uncommon rainy days. On a hot one in May, however, I particularly enjoyed the What the Flower, a lighter gin cocktail made with electric daisies (or paracress, which has a herby, grassy flavour with a slight citrus tang), cherry blossom tea, lemon, ginger and cardamom. 

Blue floral-patterned chairs around brass tables in the Botanist restaurant, with plants winding around large floor-to-ceiling white pillar
The hotel’s Botanist restaurant . . . 
A crispbread covered in vegetables and edible petals and sitting atop a fillet of red fish at the Botanist restaurant
 . . . where the focus is on locally grown produce 

Recovering from any gustatory indulgence is no hard task at Willow Stream, a very Zen space even by spa standards, with mineral baths, sauna and a large outdoor terrace. Treatments range from the ultra-relaxing, such as tension-releasing massages, to the more high-tech and results-focused, such as body-cleansing wraps and anti-ageing facials with LED light therapy. The Custom Glow facial ticks all the boxes: the lifting treatment involves hot and cold massage and the layering of around a dozen products from cult favourite skincare brand Biologique Recherche (which even my sensitive skin was happy with). A few floors up you’ll find an enormous, fully stocked gym and a rooftop pool, cabana bar and sun deck, with plenty of seating and views of the mountains across the harbour.

The rooftop pool and sun deck at the Fairmont Pacific Rim
The hotel’s rooftop pool and sun deck © Paul Warchol

If the hotel has a weakness, it’s that the rooms, despite all the mod cons, are touch on the trad side, with classic Fairmont brown and beige soft furnishings, which feels slightly at odds with the rest of the hotel’s contemporary vibe. But it doesn’t matter: they’re spacious, comfortable and well appointed, with excellent views that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Plus the bathrooms are a treat, boasting large rainfall showers, spa-like bathtubs and custom Le Labo toiletries.

At a glance:

  • Good for: Contemporary luxury and amenities, from the award-winning spa, state of the art gym and heated rooftop pool to the critically acclaimed cocktail bar and restaurant

  • Not so good for: Bedroom decor is a bit uninspired, but we’re nitpicking

  • FYI: The hotel’s location is ideal for exploring the waterfront, Stanley Park and the West End and historic Gastown neighbourhoods, plus it’s close to transport links

  • Rooms and suites: 320 rooms and 47 suites

  • Spa: Yes

  • Gym: Yes

  • Double: From C$840 (about $631/£493)

  • Address: 1038 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9

  • Website; Directions

Niki Blasina was a guest of the Fairmont Pacific Rim

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

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