Story by Miguel Strother
Vacay.ca Sports Editor, Western Canada
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The Loden Hotel offers all the swank and style of a scene out of The Spy Who Loved Me, particularly the spectacular setting. From the contemporary coastal surroundings and stylish town car out front, to the beautiful people and dry martinis at the bar, this discreet boutique hotel in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour definitely has a Double-0 feel to it.
I came to the Loden for a couple of days in early June and found no shortage of adventure attached to the downtown spa. In fact, it is no farther than three minutes to the seawall on foot (or five minutes to Robson Street, depending on your tastes) and is a perfect point of access to both Stanley Park and Vancouver’s business and shopping centres. The hotel is an equally excellent stop for business people in town on assignment as it is for an intimate wedding or upscale function; a brilliant base of operations for those who want a taste of the city’s best, whether they have a week or an hour of free time. In fact, I found an authentic one-hour Vancouver adventure literally at the doorstep of the hotel that got my heart pumping and helped me take in everything from Beaver Lake to English Bay.
After an extended period of work and travel (top secret, of course), I rolled into the Loden late on a slightly overcast day and found the sharp city and ocean views gave me enough cause to stop. It’s not often this traveller finds room for a rest especially with all the excitement of a new adventure on tap. When I arrive at a location I want to see as much as I can, figure out what I can do and then start doing it. In a rarity, rather than rush out into the city as I normally would, I found myself satisfied to open a bottle of wine and take in how well the Loden unfolds.
The rooftop penthouse, as well as many of the rooms and suites on the upper floors of the Loden, offer outstanding views of Coal Harbour, the North Shore Mountains, and the intricate architectural patterns of some of the city’s most refined buildings. The slick rooms, with surround sound, soaker tubs and king-size beds are a perfect place to make an impression. With enough room to walk around, sit close on one of the white leather bench seats, or mingle in the reflection of the inspired views provided by the floor-to-ceiling windows, the classy rooms are definitely enough for even Dr. No to get a yes.
With the Loden, much like a new Q creation, every time I pressed a button, or touched a wall something new slid out, whether it was an NBA playoff game or a designer city vista. The wall connecting the glass and marble bathroom to the main room opens like a Japanese shoji door and automatically doubled the space of my room. The discreetly placed mirrors also mean even with the curtains fully open to the Coal Harbour view, privacy is provided. Directly below my room was a beautifully patterned urban garden; across the street, a third-storey outdoor playground; behind those, the masts of sailboats resting at the Vancouver Rowing Club and behind those the North Shore Mountains; all-in-all an incredible level of depth worth taking the time to enjoy, even for somebody who can’t sit still.
FEEL LIKE JAMES BOND IN VANCOUVER
At the rise of the sun the next morning I was captivated by watching the city wake. I opened the windows to breathe in the mix of ocean air, fresh rain, and coffee floating up on the wind. Although the main arteries of the city are quite close to the Loden, this part of Vancouver and its mix of brownstone walk-ups and ultra-modern high-rises somehow manages to stay tranquil. And as much as most people would have been content to stay put for a few more hours, I was more than ready for some action.
Stanley Park’s seawall and the intricate network of trails that surround it might just offer the best running and recreational cycling routes in the free world. The park is a marvel. From the Vancouver Aquarium to the Tea House to Siwash Rock, it is nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park. I hopped out of my hotel and cut past the concrete waterfalls of Coal Harbour to connect with the seawall right in front of the Rowing Club.
From there it was through the rose garden and up into Beaver Lake, where I definitely found a few signs of the ferocious urban beaver. In fact, with several smaller downed trees and a few more very large ones with significant teeth marks that were fenced off by park staff, it looked like the beaver had been busy. The lake itself is covered in flowering lilypads and is a perfect short cut through to Third Beach, where at least one of the characters from Goldfinger would surely fit in. I prefer a 10-to-12-km run, which is why I cut through Beaver Lake, but there is more than enough room, both directly along the seawall and throughout the intricate network of trails in the park, for marathoners to stretch their legs.
As I made my sweaty way through the white sand beaches and views across English Bay into Point Grey, I could see people kayaking, swimming, playing beach volleyball, throwing Frisbees, and running. I passed the beautiful outdoor pool at Second Beach, the tennis courts beside the Fish House where the Stanley Park Open is played, and perhaps the best urban golf course in the country (Stanley Park Pitch and Putt). And while I was running back toward the hotel, I couldn’t help but think what an amazing place Vancouver is for recreation and what an amazing spot the Loden Hotel is for accessing all the adventure the city holds, even if you only have an hour.
MORE ABOUT THE LODEN HOTEL
Address: 1177 Melville Street, Vancouver, BC
Contact: Telephone, 877-225-6336 or 604-669-5060
Rates: A recent search for nightly weekend stays at the end of July returned prices beginning at $329.
Website: theloden.com (reservations can be made online).
Note: Photos courtesy of the Loden Hotel.