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

The Rosewood Hotel Georgia is a bit of a local legend. Its first incarnation opened in 1927 as one of the first luxury destinations in Vancouver, a young city out in Canada’s wild west. The Hotel Georgia quickly became popular with the well-heeled and famous, including Hollywood stars and royalty, from Laurence Olivier and John Wayne to future British king Edward, Prince of Wales, and his brother George, the Duke of Kent. 

In the decades that followed, Hotel Georgia became a hotspot for music, with British Columbia’s most popular radio station being broadcast from its penthouse studio, and for its role as the local industry’s de facto locale for hosting visiting musicians, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby. (Today, the hotel’s musical proclivities are in the form of live performances in the lobby each evening.) 

A dark-wood staircase at Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver
The hotel has retained its 1920s feel
A night-time shot of the facade of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Rosewood Hotel Georgia was one of Vancouver’s first luxury destinations © Don Riddle (2)

Some of the hotel’s services can even be credited to its notable clientele and their rather high-maintenance demands. During Katharine Hepburn’s 1950 visit, she provided a list of requirements to the management, one of which was that she did not want to eat in the Georgia’s dining room, nor go out to a local restaurant, and thus, late-night room service at the hotel was born.

This century saw the hotel undergo a full renovation, re-emerging in 2011 as part of the Rosewood group. Today, nearly a century since it first opened, Hotel Georgia maintains its Roaring Twenties charm (Art Deco fixtures, elegant dark walls and sultry lighting), which is also reflected in a slew of contemporary amenities, such as the heated 52-foot indoor saltwater lap pool and the hotel’s spa, Sense. The latter offers a cleverly curated menu of facial, body and massage treatments, though a Revival massage with Heath, the friendly practitioner who treated me, will certainly cure what ails you. 

The hotel’s 52-foot saltwater lap pool
The hotel’s 52-foot saltwater lap pool © Don Riddle
The master bedroom in one of the hotel’s suites
The master bedroom in one of the hotel’s suites

The food and drink offering is also particularly special and under the purview of David Hawksworth, one of Canada’s most lauded chefs who spent more than a decade in British Michelin-starred kitchens (Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, L’Escargot and The Square) before returning to his native Vancouver. The attached Bel Café is a lovely little spot for a takeaway coffee and a pastry, while Reflections, the hotel’s fourth-floor alfresco terrace, serves small plates and craft cocktails alongside a good selection of British Columbia wines by the glass.

But the real highlight is Hawksworth, chef David’s eponymous contemporary fine-dining restaurant, which largely celebrates Canadian seafood and organic produce, crafted with classic culinary technique. (Should you have an appetite for more of Hawksworth’s handiwork, Nightingale, his more casual joint that’s popular with locals, is just a few blocks away from the hotel.)

A bowl of scallops with grilled rapini, chorizo and romesco sauce at Hawksworth
Hokkaido scallops with grilled rapini, chorizo and romesco sauce at Hawksworth . ..
Seating in the dining space of Hawksworth, dark-wood chairs, pale marbled-leather banquettes and an abstract three-dimensional artwork on the wall
. . . the eponymous eatery of David Hawksworth, one of Canada’s most acclaimed chefs © Martin Tessler

After a gluttonous evening at Hawksworth, retiring to one of Hotel Georgia’s elegant guest rooms feels even more of a treat. Beds are plush and Canadian king-size, while the chic bathrooms, designed with moody dark marble, have enormous rainfall showers and toiletries from La Bottega (some have freestanding bathtubs too.). My abode overlooked West Georgia Street, the hotel’s namesake and one of the downtown core’s busier thoroughfares, yet it was remarkably quiet, and I enjoyed taking in the views of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a striking building designed by Francis Rattenbury that was originally used as a provincial courthouse.

At a glance:

  • Good for: Understated opulence. (If Paradox is a bright-yellow Lamborghini, Rosewood Hotel Georgia is a British racing green Aston Martin)

  • Not so good for: Breakfast is not included in the room rate

  • FYI: There’s live music in the lobby every evening with a rotating schedule of artists and genres

  • Rooms and suites: 134 rooms and 22 suites 

  • Spa: Yes

  • Gym: Yes

  • Doubles: From C$705 (about $530/£413)

  • Address: 801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7

  • Website; Directions

Niki Blasina was a guest of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia

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

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