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We’ve just returned from a short getaway to Vancouver, British Columbia. We had an absolutely incredible time in Canada. It always feels good to be back home, and Josh just loves being north of the border. Even few days up there rejuvenates us! Plus, any chance we can get to eat some of the best poutine in Canada is time well spent, right?! Fortunately, we stayed at the Fairmont Pacific Rim which kept up close to some great restaurants and activities.
From the moment the doorman first welcomed us to the moment we checked out, we felt like royalty. Really, we’re still pinching ourselves because it was so amazing! There are several fantastic Fairmont hotels downtown, but this one is the newest (and best). We cannot think of a better way to have spent some quality time together!
When we walked into the lobby for the first time, we were immediately hit with an incredible scent. It turns out that it’s a signature blend created by one of the hotel’s own aromatherapists! It was so calming and soothing after a long day of travel — but it also gave us a little extra pep in our step. Overall, everyone we spoke to said it gave them a greater sense of wellness, and isn’t that what you want from your hotel?
With vaulted ceilings and wall-to-wall windows, the lobby was spacious. The Lobby Lounge and RawBar was situated along one side of the ground level, and people were always gathered as they sipped on cocktails and noshed on the freshest sushi while listening to live music. It was definitely lively and we loved the vibe.
As soon as we dropped off our belongings (and squealed with delight over our accommodations — more on that in a minute!), we headed out to explore Vancouver. The Fairmont Pacific Rim has a bike butler, and we made good use of this service. We borrowed a pair of BMW electric bicycles and took a trip around Stanley Park!
The e-Bike boost we got made the 11 kilometer trek around the seawall feel easy, so we focused on taking in the sights. We stopped to take pictures at the Totem Poles at Brockton Point, Lion’s Gate Bridge and Vancouver Olympic Cauldron!
Found in the city’s Financial District, we were just a short distance from many landmarks and attractions including Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, Chinatown, Rogers Arena and malls such as CF Pacific Centre. Avengers: Endgame was released while we were there and we even felt safe enough to take the short walk back from Scotiabank Theatre Vancouver at almost 3 am!
Luxurious, Clean Hotel Room
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that staying in hotels is hard for me. I’m grossed out by many things, especially carpet. Our stay in the Signature Harbour Mountain View Room was the best I’ve ever had in my entire life. Everything felt fresh, clean and well-maintained, making it easy for me to calm my anxiety. We still performed our cleaning rituals, but we didn’t feel compelled to get every nook and cranny like we normally do.
The king bed was very comfortable, the linens were crisp but also wonderfully soft (is that even possible?) and there was plenty of space for storage and to stretch out. Of course, the mind-blowingly stunning view of the harbour didn’t hurt either. We ordered our breakfast for two mornings in a row and the in-room dining set it up right by the window. It was so breathtaking. What a way to start your day!
No review of a hotel room is complete without talking about the bathroom, of course. Again, this was the best experience we’ve ever had in a hotel! I loved that the toilet was in a little room separated by a frosted glass door, Josh loved that there was a television embedded in our mirror and we both loved the spa shower and soaker tub.
Was it big enough for two people? We’re not even going to blush or lie about this one — yes, we thoroughly enjoyed soaking our tired muscles in that bath together with some cocktails after an active morning climbing some snowy mountains! Hydration is important, people!
The Food Was Incredible
There are many delicious food options at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, so if you find yourself feeling hungry, you won’t be for long! The Lobby Lounge and RawBar is great for people who love fresh sushi, but with my fish and seafood allergy we steered clear.
The giované café + eatery + market is more of a casual place to grab coffee, pastries, paninis and more. They were really nice to Josh when we went in there for two cups of ice (for our bathtub cocktails!). No questions asked, they gave them to him!
We did have the opportunity to sample drinks and tastings at the Garden on the hotel’s second floor. Just a short, beautiful flight of stairs up from the lobby, it was part of Botanist restaurant where we ate during the first night of our stay. With ingenious creations from executive chef Hector Laguna, our taste buds were singing. Everything is incredibly fresh and well-balanced. It was our favorite meal of our entire trip!
Fitness Centre and Pool
We didn’t get to try it out, but the hotel does have a 24-hour fitness center. We couldn’t resist poking our heads in for a quick peek and we weren’t surprised — it was lovely! The colors were bright and vibrant, the equipment looked new and there were plenty of people working out! They also had a spot for grabbing flavored water as well as a basket filled with fruit. So thoughtful!
The pool at the Fairmont Pacific Rim was equally impressive! Vancouver is still pretty chilly in April, so we didn’t take a dip (plus, we forgot our bathing suits!), but we can say it was absolutely stunning and heated year round for any chilly-weather swimming you may want to do.
The harbour views were enough to elevate the experience, but the decor and design also added to the experience. Featuring a bar and private cabanas available during the warmer months, it looked so natural, yet posh and elegant. They struck the perfect balance with the pool area!
Willow Stream Spa
We can confidently say that you’ll fall in love with The Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim because our experience was phenomenal! The 8,500 square-foot facility occupies most of the fifth floor and includes private lounge areas for male and female guests, as well as a coed area.
It was a little chilly while we were visiting, so we didn’t stay out on the terrace very long, but we were impressed by it as well as the rooftop jacuzzi. We did try out the infrared sauna, which was large enough for us and a couple visiting from Calgary.
While Josh went for a run along the seawall, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a Willow Stream Signature Massage. The wonderful Jenny was incredibly attentive and patient, even though I was running a few minutes late! She showed me the products we would be using during my session, and explained the connection to local sources. It was amazing. The hotel’s commitment to the environment really made my heart sing!
The room was very comfortable, the music was calming and Jenny helped my body shed some of the fatigue from several days of biking and hiking. It was the perfect way to end my stay at the hotel. We felt so valued as guests, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for, right?
Where to Eat Near Fairmont Pacific Rim
We weren’t in Vancouver for as long as we would have liked, but we still managed to eat in a wide range of places. Please, I beg you – if you plan to visit Vancouver, give yourself enough time to enjoy the food!
The first thing we did, however, was hit A&W and downtown’s CF Pacific Centre for a variety of poutines. We both love the dish which consists of fries, gravy and cheese curds, and couldn’t wait to get off the plane and dig in!
The poutine from A& W is pretty typical for fast food restaurants in Canada. It was Josh’s first time having one, though! Did he enjoy it? Thoroughly! Yes, there are fancier poutines, but it’s hard to beat the price and convenience of a burger joint. Plus, we knew that we were heading over to CF Pacific Centre for more!
Another first for Josh – a poutine from New York Fries! Despite the name, this is a fully homegrown, Canadian chain that you’ll often find at food courts in malls. My older kids really love it. They sell different variations (including a butter chicken poutine), but he stuck with the classic. I went with an old favorite, the beef & chicken teriyaki plate from Edo Japan. It was so good after all these years!
Of course, we also had to make several runs to Tim Hortons. No kidding — despite our full itinerary, we went to Timmies at least five times. In fact, every time to cross the border into Canada (or find locations in places like Columbus, Ohio during stops to Cedar Point), we have to stuff our faces. It really is one of the things I miss most about home. It’s just so affordable and good!
Josh is a huge 7-11 fan. We were completely shocked (and saddened!) to learn that there aren’t any locations in Idaho. So, we’ve been in Boise for more than three years now without any. Whenever we drive down to Lagoon outside Salt Lake City, we make several stops for Slurpees.
Funny enough, Hayley and I fell in love with convenience stores in Japan, including 7-11. Ugh, why don’t they have any in Boise!? Either way, it was good to enjoy it while we explored Vancouver!
Nightingale Restaurant in Vancouver
You’ll find Nightingale in Vancouver’s downtown financial district on Hasting’s Street. I’m generally nervous about going to new restaurants, especially in groups (we went with some local friends). Because of the number of people at our table, they served everything family style, but with my OCD and food allergies, they gave us our meals separately. It was so thoughtful!
The menu features classic Canadian fare with some killer cocktails, and we tried a little bit of everything. We can personally vouch for the tastiness of the following dishes at Nightingale’s in Vancouver:
- Pizza (San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil)
- Oven fired focaccia (Pecorino Romano, garlic butter)
- Braised meatballs (San Marzano, Parmesan, pine nut, basil)
- Roasted half chicken (peperonata, Macedonian feta, olives)
- Grilled hanger steak (red onion agrodolce, Gorgonzola butter, horseradish)
While everything was great, the superstar of our meal was the buttermilk fried chicken with spiced maple syrup, sumac and pickles. Oh my goodness, we ended up having two plates of this! It was crispy, but juicy, the seasoning was out of this world, and the maple syrup was the perfect sweet touch. It really was one of the best things we’ve ever eaten!
For dessert, we tried a couple things including the salted caramel pot de crème (with whipped crème fraîche, butterscotch and vanilla breton) and the warm chocolate fudge cake (with espresso gelato, irish cream, cocoa nibs). Both were solid choices, but a little pricey. Overall Nightingale is an excellent choice to replenish your reserves while you explore Vancouver!
During our stay, we were hosted by the amazing team at Arc’teryx. The outdoor brand is based in Vancouver and gave us an up close and personal look at how they make their incredible gear. One of their favorite places to gather is Miku Vancouver, which located right on the harbour. Located near Canada Place, you could have some truly breathtaking views depending on where you sit.
The restaurant specializes in sushi & sustainable seafood, so if you’re into that, this is the place to go. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to fish and seafood, so Miku accommodated with a special menu for us. The modified sushi platter they brought would be perfect for vegetarians also. The Vegetable Nigiri come in asparagus, avocado, eggplant, shiitake, shiso, and red pepper.
We were surprised when they brought us the AAA Sterling Silver Prime Rib plate. The beef is prepared using a five-hour sous vide method, and comes with a brown butter wasabi sauce, market vegetables, and Iwanori butter baked Yukon potato puree.
The meat was very tender and flavorful, but it wasn’t as warm as we like it. The portion was a bit small, but that might have been because we were doing a tasting menu as a group. It’s definitely a solid option for people who don’t want sushi, though!
For dessert we had the Green Tea Opera. It was comprised of green tea génoise, matcha buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, azuki bean cream, hazelnut wafer, and matcha ice cream. It was delicious! If only we had a little more of it!
Overall, Miku Vancouver did not disappoint. Would we go there again? Probably not, basically because it’s out of our travel budget and I’m terrified of cross-contamination sending me into anaphylatic shock. If you love fish and seafood, you may want to make a reservation!
Fairmont Pacific Rim with Travel Anxiety
As regular readers will know, we look at experiences through the lens of travel anxiety. In fact, staying in hotels can be pretty difficult for both of us. Josh can be frustrated by an onerous check-in process and I struggle with a run-down property. Fortunately, neither of us had anything to worry about because it was an incredible experience.
While I always follow the routine I’ve established (read The Ultimate Germaphobe’s Guide to Hotel Stays), it barely felt like I needed it at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Trust me when I say that this NEVER happens! I’m always stressed about feeling clean, but our room at the Fairmont felt so fresh. It really lessened my anxiety.
When Can We Go Back???
We’ve taken a lot of trips together, but nothing has compared to our stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. From the staff to the accommodations and amenities, everything was top-notch. We can’t think of any way they could improve, which is a new experience for us. Fairmont Pacific Rim, you’ve left us speechless in the best way possible!
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