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

When Shangri-La Vancouver was officially welcomed into the world on the eve of Chinese new year in 2009, the tower became the city’s tallest building. In line with the hotel franchise’s Asian roots, it was blessed by Buddhist monks with wishes for prosperity. Feng shui principles guided design throughout the site. 

After staying in the hotel, a glittering edifice nestled in the heart of the downtown core, I can vouch for its Zen energy: Shangri-La Vancouver exudes a sense of peace, despite its city-centre location and the complex’s towering (660 feet) height. Should you wish to venture outside this calming refuge, the hotel is near the leafy expanses of Stanley Park, the glittering harbourfront, the buzzy Granville Street area and luxury shopping hub Alberni Street are just a stroll away.

The living room in one of the suites at Shangri-La Vancouver, with a cream carpet and corner sofa, and floor-to-ceiling windows looking over skyscrapers
‘A retro 1960s vibe’: the living room in a suite at Shangri-La Vancouver © Corey Stovin

Rooms offer a retro 1960s vibe with heavy curtains and trellis-like detailing on the wooden bed frames. The bathroom, and particularly the Kohler soak bathtub, is the real highlight. It is spacious and crafted entirely from white Carrera marble, and its floor-to-ceiling windows mean you can soak up vistas of Vancouver’s gleaming glass skyscrapers from the tub. The mattress is soft and deep — one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on — and I’m seriously considering buying pillows from the hotel’s supplier

Attention to detail is conspicuous, from the suite amenities, including L’Occitane toiletries, hair tools and Nespresso coffee machines, to the thoughtful service of the staff. I’m told every guest is given a welcome gift during their stay, which could be an afternoon tea spread, a hot-chocolate bomb (which I almost mistook for a bath bomb and does the same, just within a mug of hot milk), maple cookies and a pot of tea waiting after a day out — and it’s little touches like these that set the hotel apart. I answered a knock one evening at my door to find a woman with a little silver tray in hand asking if I required anything. Candy, water, hot milk?

An Asian-themed, beige-hued treatment room in the hotel’s spa, with a chair beside a fireplace and a female member of staff beside a treatment bed
A treatment room in the hotel’s spa © Corey Stovin

The gym and spa space is the thing to write home about here. I jumped off the plane and straight into Chi, The Spa, for a Sangre de Fruta treatment: a novel and utterly reinvigorating scrub, steam and oil massage. Each treatment room is like a spa in itself, equipped with a mini steam room, shower, bath and flickering fire. 

The expansive 24-hour gym is fully equipped with rows of running machines facing out to the view of the cityscape, a weight-training area with machines and free weights and a little studio space for yoga and stretching. The facilities are excellent — and at 3,000 square feet, it doesn’t feel as though you’re stepping on anyone’s toes or sweating on a stranger. The women’s changing room features a sizeable steam room, while there is a Scandi-style sauna for men. 

The hotel’s outdoor pool and Jacuzzi
Shangri-La Vancouver’s outdoor pool and Jacuzzi

Outside on the fifth floor there’s a heated pool, with Jacuzzi attached, flanked by a row of orange-cushioned cabanas and sunloungers. The pool isn’t for serious swimmers, being 35 feet long and a slightly strange triangular shape, but ideal if you’re looking for some R&R. Inside, there’s a smoothie and juice bar should you wish to slurp while you swim.

Dark-wood tables and chairs in Carlino restaurant
Carlino, Shangri-La Vancouver’s Italian restaurant . . . 
A seafood pasta dish at Carlino restaurant
. . . is a hymn to the food of the Bel Paese

Carlino, the hotel’s Italian restaurant, did much to whet my appetite. Michelin-recommended, it is part of Italian-eatery group Kitchen Table Restaurants and rooted in locally sourced, seasonal produce. The space is elegant: monochrome-tiled floors, glowing orb lamps, potted olive trees and vines hanging from the ceiling. The food, naturally, is inspired by the Bel Paese: think breakfast croissants stuffed with prosciutto, arugula and Parmiagiano; excellent coffee; freshly kneaded ravioli; scallops swimming in parsley and garlic butter; mushroom and truffle risotto — and a “happy hour” that offers all-you-can-eat cheese and charcuterie for the price of a drink.

At a glance:

  • Good for: Five-star treatment and a calming refuge in the city centre, whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure 

  • Not so good for: Party-seekers. Those seeking livelier vibes should head to Paradox across the street 

  • FYI: There’s live music at Carlino every Saturday and Sunday, 11am–2pm. The hotel offers 24-hour room service. On site there’s also a library, business centre, conference facilities and childcare services. 

  • Rooms and suites: 80 rooms and 39 suites 

  • Spa: Yes

  • Gym: Yes

  • Double: From C$750 (£553/£435)

  • Address: 1128 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC B6E 0A8

  • Website; Directions

Jessica Rawnsley was a guest of the Shangri-La Vancouver

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

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