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Vancouver's Shangri-La Hotel

Executive indulgence, discreetly luxurious

A visit to the Shangri-La may tempt you to lock yourself in your room and refuse to leave – but don’t do it, chickadee. While the rooms are sublime, you don’t want to miss the breathtaking spa treatments, delish restaurants and understated elegance wrapped neatly into a chic, upscale hotel.

Centrally located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Shangri-La Hotel is a short walk to nightlife and entertainment as well as the commercial mecca of Robson Street (Vancouver's version of 5th Avenue, not to be confused with Vancouver's 4th Avenue, another top shopping area in Kitsilano). It’s also less than 20 minutes’ walk to Stanley Park, Gastown, Davie Street and Yaletown.

Shangri-La's elegant barIf you’ve visited the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto and want to compare the two, prepare yourself for a completely different experience – executive indulgence, enjoyed by a clientele of business folks, celebs and wedding parties. While it’s no secret Hollywood luminaries frequent Vancouver’s only 5 star hotel, it’s not an uber-trendy hotspot to see and be seen. The staff is serious about delivering a discreetly luxurious experience for each guest – and you don’t have to be a star like Corey Monteith (a regular before his death in July).

Step into the lobby and you’ll immediately notice a fresh, airy space punctuated with a muted palette of tans, greys and chocolates beneath an opulent glass chandelier. Breathe. The hint of white tea draws you in and, if you’re lucky to arrive in the early evening, live music from the Fazioli Grande Piano in Xi Shi, the lobby lounge.

From there, you can eat, sleep and play in Vancouver’s sweetest place to perch.

Eating at the Shangri-La

From our visit to the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, I knew dining in Vancouver would be a sublime experience. There are two restaurants in the hotel, Market and Xi Shi (as well as a juice bar in the health club) – and both excelled my expectations in design, service and flavors.

Market, Shangri-La VancouverI arrived at Market early for dinner and enjoyed cocktails at the stunning lobby bar before being seated in the restaurant. The bar is gorgeous during the day but transforms into a stunning masterpiece after dark. The vibe in the restaurant is more casual and relaxed and a favorite of hotel guests and Vancouverites. Like Toronto’s Shangri-La, the building is part hotel, part condominium complex with residents making a healthy use of all the hotel has to offer.           

My server asked about dietary restrictions when I sat down and I was immediately given a full vegetarian menu. Accustomed to receiving make-shift adjustments, I was impressed at the consideration put into such a robust menu (they also have a glutton-free menu).

This hotel does not disappoint. Everything on the menu was far too delish to nibble delicately. I advise cleaning your plate, savoring every morsel – there’s no telling when you enjoy a meal this much again.

I met friends at Xi Shi for drinks after dinner but I wish I would have made time for afternoon tea served on the famous beautiful Blue Willow china. Sip, nibble, repeat – sounds like a glorious way to spend an afternoon, doesn’t it?

Sleeping in at the Shangri-La

Soothing, luxurious calmYour room key is your passport to everything in the hotel and your room. Opening the door to your room, you’ll be greeted with pre-programed ambient lighting and placing the key in the slot at the door allows you to operate the lights, drapes and coffee maker. I neglected to do this the first night and began my first morning without coffee.

Overall, the rooms denote an air of soothing calm with a concerted effort to minimize needless effort. From the bed, sheers and drapes can be activated, all lights adjusted, and of course, the TV watched. The bed, of course, is lust-worthy with crisp cotton sheets and a plush pillow top. The bathroom is a marble showpiece with a separate shower and soaking tub, private stall for the toilet and a hologram TV in the mirror.

While the Shangri-La enjoys has earned its stars, it’s in need of refreshed carpeting throughout the hallways and rooms and updated amenities. I appreciated multiple outlets at the desk for my many devices but the only outlet near the bed was behind a heavy nightstand. A USB outlet or docking station would be a nice addition.

Playing at the Shangri-La

I arrived at the Shangri-La flustered after a long, delayed flight. My first stop was outside in the rooftop hot tub overlooking the street. I had forgotten my swimsuit, but the health club manager gave me a disposable swimsuit – within moments, the knots in my neck began to unwind.

Bento Box lunch - vegetarianMy bento box lunch was up next. A new addition to Shangri-La in Vancouver, a trio of bento box options is available, including the Farmers Market (vegetarian), MARKET (by Jean-Georges) and an Asian-style option. A carafe of flavored water infused with a range of herbs, fruits and spices is included with lunch. Ingredient such as cinnamon, cranberries, mint, ginger and basil are rich in vitamins and minerals have been chosen for their healing benefits, whether to aid circulation, ease digestion or boost immunity. 

Each Shangri-La Hotel around the world pays homage to the sense of place surrounding them. I had planned to enjoy a West Coast Lifestyle spa treatment, which incorporates Vancouverites’ passion for yoga, organic spa treatments and healthy eating. Each lifestyle package begins with a personalized, one-on-one yoga class and moves to a selection of treatments designed to sore muscles and rejuvenate the body. The yoga portion of the treatment takes place in a beautiful yoga studio inside the health club with floor to ceiling windows, sauna and steam rooms.

Chi, the Spa at the Shangri-La VancouverAt the last minute, I opted for the Sea Therapy Facial. During the facial, Chantal deeply massaged my entire face as well as my décolletage, shoulders, arms and hands. She explained the massage would help bind the moisture to my skin and said my skin would glow for days afterward. But she was wrong – I’m still enjoying the bliss of that treatment.

If you go, Chi the Spa is designed for a very private experience. If features only 6 treatment rooms but no common change area. Your entire spa experience takes place within your personal treatment room – shower, change room and restroom. Book an extra half hour for your treatment and soak away your cares before your treatment.

If your travel curiosity's peaked, visit Shangri-La Vancouver online for more information. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you been to a Shangri-La hotel – anywhere? I'd love hear what you love about them! Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook - and let's continue the conversation!

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