Story by Tara Henley
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Vancouver has been stuck in an unusual deep freeze for most of the past month. Yet the weather shouldn’t deter visitors from making the most of the new year. This glittering west-coast metropolis offering loads of indoor activities to celebrate 2017 — in spite of sleet, snow and ice. From cheap and cheerful to luxe, here’s the top ways to stay warm during the deep freeze.
Indulge in Afternoon Tea at Hotel Vancouver
Escape the elements with an elegant tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This grand old hotel was opened in 1939, in time for a visit from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and is now known as “The Castle in the City.” It has been elaborately decked out for winter, complete with a tea service that’s unparalleled. The Fairmont’s themed North Pole Express Tea is served in a private dining room at Notch8 Restaurant & Bar, a relaxing oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver’s version of Mink Mile in Toronto, the upscale shopping district of Robson Street. Enjoy a pot of strong steeped tea with some butter, rum and cranberry scones (served, of course, with Devonshire clotted cream and house-made fruit preserves), along with delicate sandwiches (smoked salmon pinwheels, and egg salad, English cucumber and watercress fingers) and an array of sweet treats, including my favourite, the egg nog panna cotta.
Hit FlyOver Canada
Head down to Canada Place for the not-to-be-missed FlyOver Canada experience. This indoor attraction takes you on an awe-inspiring, 6,000 kilometre (3,725 miles), coast-to-coast virtual flight over our country, on a suspended chair in front of a 20-metre spherical screen — engaging your senses along the way, with wind, mist and scents. Add to that thrill: When you’re done the ride, you can mill around the outdoor deck and soak up the breathtaking views of harbour and mountains.
Stories, Cocoa and Cookies at Thomas Haas
Thomas Haas, a fourth-generation pâtissier, is a veritable institution in Vancouver, and his store is a must-visit for its artisan chocolates, pastries and desserts. The location in the Kitsilano neighbourhood is a favoured destination for families celebrating the season, and is found on the same block as kidsbooks, which stocks a truly fantastic selection of children’s titles. Shop for a book and then head over to Thomas Haas for a mug of hot chocolate (or, in this grown-up’s case, a mocha!) and a plate of exquisite lemon star sablés, pistachio sablés and ginger molasses cookies.
Latte at Bel Cafe
After doing a little January sale shopping in downtown Vancouver, you’ll want to warm up with a latte at the posh Bel Café, part of famed chef David Hawksworth’s culinary empire. This creamy cuppa is fuelled by custom coffee blends from local roaster 49th Parallel, and is the ultimate in decadence. Stop by during Vancouver’s seventh annual Hot Chocolate Festival (January 19 to February 14) to sample a steaming cup of Mexican-style spiced dark chocolate or white chocolate raspberry hot chocolate. And be sure to sample a macaron or two ($2 each) from the menu.
Reverse Happy Hour at the Four Seasons
If your wallet is on the light side post-Christmas, you can still enjoy a little luxury at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Warm up at the elegant YEW seafood + bar with Reverse Happy Hour, daily from 8-11 pm. The swank see-and-be-seen spot is offering five new custom cocktails and five new dishes for $10 each. Think: Expat Booster (Jameson Irish Whiskey, Red Vermouth, Cold Brew Espresso, Spiced Black Tea, Banana and Western Haskap Bitters) paired with mouth-watering Tempura Rock Shrimp with Ponzu Sauce.