Saying a hotel had a “motel vibe” used to be a dirty word, but now it’s a bit chic, with clever hoteliers renovating outdated accommodation options into hotels bursting with sophistication and modern comforts – all with a touch of nostalgia. One such hotel is The Burrard, located less than 15 minutes walk from Vancouver City Centre train station or Yalehouse-Roundhouse, which both connect to Vancouver’s international airport.
The motel was originally called The Burrard Motor Inn, which opened its doors in 1956, with 72 rooms across four floors, re-opening as The Burrard in 2011. With a new design palette, custom walnut furnishings and more, the renovation captured the spirit of the motel’s history, while adding a touch of class that gives hotels like it the term “retro-chic”. They use a bit of classic music to help with this, featuring quotes from musicians on the wall on the lift, for instance; one day it was Prince and the next it was Madonna (for the song “Holiday”, since it was Canadian Thanksgiving at the time).
The rooms are well designed, and give you everything you need, with an alarm clock by the bed that’ll fit your iPod, an external power supply on the desk with USB Chargers as well as normal plugs, a cordless phone and a 42″ HDTV sitting on the wall. There’s an iron and a safe in the built-in cupboard, and fast and free wi-fi throughout the building. The only items in the room that truly felt dated were the side tables, which looked like they were from the old motel.
And what of your slumber? Well, the king bed and its pillows couldn’t have been more comfortable, thanks in part to a pillow-top mattress, and there was nice lighting for the space. An air conditioner sits standing up next to the window, but the room is naturally a good temperature, especially this time of year.
The bathroom was blindingly white, with a beautiful, rustic tile design and toiletries built into tubes on the wall; except for an oatmeal soap bar and some makeup remover wipes. There’s a hair dryer on the wall of the bathroom, too, and the fixings are contemporary, ensuring a comfortable bath or shower.
The hotel also features pet-friendly rooms, a courtyard where guests can relax and play ping pongs, and they offer free bike rentals and umbrellas for a rainy day. While there’s not a gym on site, they can help you out with a Steve Nash gym pass, and there’s guest laundry. There are two dining options on site, with the Elysian offering espresso and coffee, snacks and Four Winds Beer, while Burgoo provides an outdoor patio, full bar and a country kitchen vibe. And your room will provide complimentary ice cold water and hot coffee.
They also make sure you know what’s happening in the surrounds, with a sheet on your room’s desk providing some tips to eat, drink and play in the local area.
So… what to do with your night in Vancouver?
There’s no shortage of places to eat, drink and enjoy the night when you’re at The Burrard. Most of the best places to go though may require a short taxi ride or trip on the city’s great public transport network. I opted to head about 10 minutes drive to the trendy South Main (or “SoMa”) area, through Yaletown and over the Cambie Street Bridge.
It’s just east of Vancouver’s downtown, and centres around Main Street in Mount Pleasant, serving as a rising star in the city for food and nightlife. You can try the Canadian Whisky Bacon donut at Cartems, dine at the all-vegetarian restaurant The Acorn (who also put out some great cocktails) or the Fable Diner. There’s also nightlife courtesy of now iconic venues like The Biltmore Cabaret and The Fox Cabaret.
I had dinner at Burdock & Co., which opened in SoMa in 2013, The quaint establishment is all about crafting unique dishes from organic, locally sourced ingredients – whether it be a nearby farm or a downtown urban garden. You can enjoy naturalist wines from France and Italy, craft beers, cocktails and an ever-changing, internationally influenced menu. Take a look at their latest dinner menu HERE, and they also are open for brunch. If they have the grilled pork collar on the menu when you are there, it literally melts in your mouth; don’t look past it. But there wasn’t a bad dish amongst them.
I love the move towards re-furbished motels, and The Burrard is a shining example of what’s possible with the space. They are the living, breathing definition of “retro-chic”, and with a great location and a very comfortable bed, you shouldn’t look past this accommodation option next time you’re in the Canadian city.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
For bookings and more details about The Burrard (1100 Burrard Street), head to their official website.
The author stayed as a guest of the hotel for one night, and dined at Burdock & Co as a guest of the restaurant.