Where to Stay in Vancouver: Advice from a local about the best area to stay in Vancouver! Includes guides to Vancouver’s coolest neighborhoods and Vancouver neighborhood maps. Start your search for the best place to stay in Vancouver here!
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Where to Stay in Vancouver: Introducing Vancouver
Author Douglas Coupland once called Vancouver a ‘City of Glass.’ With 360° views of mountains, ocean, and forest, Vancouver deserves as much glass as possible.
This busy port city is one of Canada’s most diverse. In particular, Vancouver has a large Asian population. In fact, it once earned the not-intended-to-be-pejorative nickname, Hongcouver. Part of Vancouver’s diversity is due to geography. Vancouver is the most logical first stop for flights originating in East Asia. However, it’s also a function of Canada’s immigration policies. Add to that, Vancouver frequently makes the top 5 on global “livable cities” lists.
Unlike most of Canada, Vancouver has a temperate climate. This makes it an attractive destination for Canadian and international travelers. In winter, it’s mild and wet, situated as it is in a temperate rainforest. In summer, sunny and mild summers see the city come alive.
As a Vancouver native, I’ve never thought about how difficult it must be to find the best area to stay in Vancouver. As with any city, there are A LOT of options. The sheer quantity of choices can be overwhelming. That said, choosing the right Vancouver neighborhood can make or break a trip.
Less than15 minutes’ walk from one another, Gastown vs. Yaletown vs. the Financial District have very different vibes. This is especially true in the evening. Kitsilano is a student favorite, but families will also love this beachside neighborhood. Vancouver’s West End is famously LBGT-friendly. It also has spectacular views over English Bay. And those who want a quiet but friendly neighborhood might love Lower Lonsdale.
If your Vancouver trip is only a few days, downtown is the most convenient area to stay in Vancouver. This includes the neighborhoods of Gastown, Yaletown, Waterfront, the Financial District, Coal Harbour, Granville Entertainment District, and the West End/Davie Village.
If you have more time, you might enjoy a more off-the-path neighborhood. North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale (LoLo), Granville Island, Kitsilano, and south Main (SoMa) are all lovely. Staying in one of these less popular (with tourists) Vancouver neighborhoods will help you experience the city as a local. Perhaps you’ll also manage to save a bit of money staying in one of these areas.
As a born-and-bred Vancouverite with a head full of local knowledge, I hope this guide will answer the question, where should I stay in Vancouver?
However, I also hope it encourages you to explore some of these neighborhoods. With this in mind, I’ve included suggestions within each neighborhood section!
Where to Stay in Vancouver: A Quick Look At The Best Area to Stay in Vancouver
If you’re looking for quick answer about the best area to stay in Vancouver, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve outlined all the best places to stay in Vancouver in some detail below. But I also wanted to provide an at-a-glance summary to help you choose where to stay in Vancouver. You can start by checking out this summary of Vancouver’s best neighborhoods. Click on the neighborhood names (in blue) to jump to that section, or read from end-to-end.
See the Vancouver neighborhood maps below for a quick glance of the best places to stay in Vancouver.
Vancouver Neighborhoods Maps
📍 1. Stanley Park; 2. Vancouver Aquarium; 3. Canada Place; 4. The Gastown Steam Clock; 5. Rogers Arena; 6. BC Place; 7. Science World; 8. Granville Island; 9. English Bay Beach
(Use the links below to skip ahead to each neighborhood section, which contains a full description of each Vancouver neighborhood)
Best Area to Stay in Vancouver for Tourists
Best Overall Area to Stay in Vancouver for Tourists: Vancouver’s Downtown Neighborhoods
Vancouver’s downtown core is the best overall area to stay in Vancouver for tourists.
If it’s your first-time visiting Vancouver, or you’re only coming to Vancouver for a few days, staying in Vancouver’s downtown is a great choice. You’ll have easy access to the city’s main attractions, be able to get around on foot and via public transit, and have plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping at your doorstep.
Vancouver’s downtown is further broken-up into distinct neighborhoods as follows:
(If you want to be in the middle of the action, and want to stay in one of Vancouver’s best boutique or luxury hotels, skip ahead and check out our Top Hotel Picks in Downtown list. They are all highly-recommended, and are in great locations for business or pleasure.)
❶ & ❷ Waterfront/Coal Harbour: Stay in Waterfront and Coal Harbour if you want a convenient seaside location that’s quiet in the evenings. Families with kids will probably like this area of Vancouver. This is also one of the best parts of Vancouver to stay if you’re leaving or arriving on a cruise. Waterfront melts into the Financial District, making this a great area to stay on business. Search for hotels in Waterfront/Coal Harbour.
❸ Yaletown: Stay in Yaletown if you want a boutique, well-heeled vibe that’s right on the water. Yaletown is one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver for couples traveling without kids, or for a luxury getaway to Vancouver. Search for Vancouver hotels in Yaletown.
❹ & ❺ Gastown, Railtown & Chinatown: Gastown and Railtown have a young professional scene that’s a bit gritty. The area has gone through some serious gentrification in recent years. It’s a favorite among start ups, and has a great food scene. Chinatown is grittier, but changing quickly. There are some lovely apartment hotels in Chinatown. This is one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver for a foodie trip and a low-key nightlife of cocktails, not clubs. Find hotels in Gastown/Railtown.
❻ The Granville Entertainment District: Granville Entertainment District is a top place to stay in Vancouver for nightlife. If you’re planning to see live music at The Vogue or Commodore, this is a good area to stay. If you’re wondering where to stay in Vancouver on a budget, Granville Street is a good bet. There are quite a few 2- and 3-star hotels along here. Search for hotels around Granville Entertainment District.
❼ English Bay, the West End and Davie Village. Stay in the West End and Davie Village if you want to be in Vancouver’s most LGBT-friendly neighborhood. This is also one of Vancouver’s best beach neighborhoods. Search for hotels in the West End.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Vancouver’s Other Neighborhoods to Consider
❽ North Vancouver: North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale neighborhood is great for families. Travelers who want some nice pubs and restaurants to choose from, without being too noisy at night, might like it here. North Van is well connected to downtown by the Seabus public transit boat. Find hotels around Lower Lonsdale.
❾ Olympic Village and Granville Island: Stay in Olympic Village or Granville Island if you want a quieter vibe than downtown. Olympic Village is residential, so you’ll get to experience local life here. While touristy, Granville Island is also a working market and local favorite. This area is nice for couples looking for a quiet Vancouver trip and families with kids. Search for hotels in Granville Island and area.
❿ Kitsilano: Stay in Kitsilano if you want to experience one of Vancouver’s beach neighborhoods. If don’t mind being a bit outside the downtown core, it’s a great choice. Plenty of green space, beach, and a (May to September) outdoor pool make it a good choice for families. Find hotels in and around Kitsilano.
⓫ Main Street and Mount Pleasant: Main Street is Vancouver’s most hipster neighborhood. Expect to be surrounded by 20 to 40-somethings, with or without kids. Plenty of boutique shops, awesome restaurants, and craft breweries to choose from here. Search for hotels around Mount Pleasant / Main Street.
Also Check Out
- Vancouver FAQs: Read about where to stay in Vancouver with kids, where to stay in Vancouver on a budget, Airport transportation and getting around on Vancouver public transport, and more.
- Top Vancouver Tours: Top rated Vancouver city tours.
- More Where to Stay Guides: Check out more of our Where to Stay City Guides for other popular destinations from Vancouver to help you plan.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Vancouver’s Best Neighborhoods for Tourists
The first thing you need to know is that Metro Vancouver is actually a massive area containing many smaller cities. North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond are all separate cities within Metro Vancouver.
This Where to Stay in Vancouver guide assumes you’re coming to Vancouver on vacation and want to be in a convenient area for visiting the best of the city – the attractions, bars, restaurants and cafés, and events that make people actually want to come here!
I’ve written this guide with the assumption you don’t want to spend an hour on public transit just to visit a museum or restaurant, and have ruled out areas that aren’t convenient for reaching the downtown core.
Consider Staying Near a Skytrain Station, or Close to Public Transit
Public transport in Vancouver is quite good. There’s the Skytrain (which is like the subway, or metro), the Seabus (a 15-minute public transit ferry that crosses between North Vancouver and downtown Vancouver), and the bus. There are also commuter-specific transit options that won’t apply if you’re a visitor staying in or near downtown.
The Skytrain is relatively small and easy to navigate compared to many big cities. There are only 3 lines: the Expo Line, the Millennium Line, and the Canada Line.
In terms of choosing a convenient place to stay in Vancouver, you ideally don’t want to stay too far out on any of the Skytrain lines. If you’re looking at a place online and wondering if it’s in a good area or not, the following stops are conveniently located with easy access to downtown:
Expo Line: Waterfront, Burrard, Granville, Stadium, Main, Broadway, and Nanaimo. Beyond Nanaimo, you’re starting to get a bit far away from downtown.
Millennium Line: The Millennium Line runs in a loop. It follows the same route as the Expo line from Waterfront until Broadway, and then it diverges and splits into a loop. Honestly, I’d say the same stops that are convenient on the Expo line (Waterfront, Burrard, Granville, Stadium, Main, Broadway, and Nanaimo) are what you want to stick to for the Millennium Line, too.
Canada Line: The Canada Line is the Skytrain line that goes from the airport into downtown, so it will probably be your first experience with public transit in Vancouver. Waterfront, City Centre, Yaletown and Olympic Village stops cover some of the best neighborhoods in Vancouver. I’d recommend you don’t stray beyond that when choosing where to stay in Vancouver, although Broadway-Cityhall is still fairly convenient, too.
Downtown Vancouver & Its Best Neighbourhoods
Most tourists stay in downtown Vancouver, and with pretty good reason: it’s where many of the best attractions, restaurants, events, and shopping are, and once you’re downtown, you can get almost everywhere by walking, or taking a short taxi, Car2Go, or public transit ride.
The nice thing about Vancouver is people actually live downtown, and the various downtown neighborhoods are mostly lively and safe, with lots of choice for cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. With the exception of the Financial District, if you stay in downtown Vancouver, you’ll be staying in an area where many locals live, and will get a true feel for what life in Vancouver is all about.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Waterfront & Coal Harbour
❶ Canada Place/Cruise Terminal; ❷ Gastown Steam Clock; ❸ Habourfront Centre Vancouver Lookout; ❹ Waterfront Station Sea Bus Terminal; ❺ Stanley Park
❶ Lord Stanley Suites on the Park; ❷ Westin Bayshore; ❸ Hyatt Regency Downtown; ❹ Sutton Place; ❺ Pinnacle Harbourfront; ❻ Century Plaza; ❼ L’Hermitage Hotel; ❽ Wedgewood Hotel & Spa; ❾ Rosewood Hotel Georgia; ❿ Le Soleil; ⓫ Fairmont Waterfront; ⓬ Fairmont Pacific Rim; ⓭ Fairmont Hotel
To the east of Waterfront Station, you’ll find Gastown/Railtown, and Chinatown.
To the west, you’ll find Waterfront: a renovated waterfront area which contains the convention centre, Olympic cauldron, and a luxury hotel. Butting up against Waterfront is the financial district, which runs south along Burrard street. And east of Waterfront is Coal Harbour, which runs all the way to Stanley Park.
In the daytime, the Waterfront is buzzing as Vancouverites go about their daily business. In evenings, however, this part of the city largely empties out, as it has far fewer residential buildings than other downtown neighborhoods. That makes Waterfront a wonderfully quiet area to stay in Vancouver, without sacrificing any of the benefits of being downtown.
Coal Harbour is largely residential, filled as it is with glass condo towers. Anytime of day, this part of downtown Vancouver has a slightly lower-key feel to it, with less hustle and bustle than Waterfront and the Financial District.
Both Waterfront and Coal Harbour offer beautiful views of Vancouver Harbour and the North Shore mountains.
Waterfront Area: In the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics, Vancouver sunk a huge amount of cash into the new Convention centre and surrounding waterfront area, and it shows: it’s really, really nice. The views of the harbour, and of North Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains on a clear day are hard to beat. Add to that, you’re right at Waterfront skytrain station, and within walking distance of Gastown (7 minutes), Granville Entertainment District (15 minutes) and Yaletown (20 minutes). That’s a lot of pluses!
The downside of staying at Waterfront is, besides the views, it’s a tad boring. Don’t get me wrong, there are a decent number of restaurants and pubs to choose from, but it’s certainly not vibrant at night. Many tourists choose to stay in this area, and there are lots of higher-end hotels to choose from, as well as a few mid-range ones.
Overall, it’s a beautiful and peaceful area, making it a great choice for travelers that prefer a bit of tranquility at night, without sacrificing on convenience. It’s also a great choice for families traveling with children, as the square around the Olympic Cauldron and the Seawall are pedestrianized: perfect for littles who need to run around!
Burrard Street & The Financial District: Many of Vancouver’s corporate offices are somewhere along Burrard Street, or in the general area. The area is bustling with workers during office hours, and with the after-work cocktail crowd. After 8, however, it turns into a bit of a ghost-town.
If you’re a light sleeper, that could be a good thing, and there are a few very nice hotels in the area to choose from.
Coal Harbour: Coal Harbour is at the north-west end of downtown, bordering Stanley park and running along West Georgia down to the water, until about Burrard Street (and the Financial District).
Coal Harbour has a lot of promise, and its main attractions are its natural beauty, views, and proximity to Stanley Park. The challenge with Coal Harbour is it’s not particularly lively in the evenings. Coal Harbour is one of the areas where Vancouver’s housing crisis is apparent: many of the apartment buildings are owned, but unoccupied, meaning it doesn’t have the same liveliness as other neighbourhoods.
Luckily, you can console yourself by taking a sunset stroll along the water! Like Yaletown, Coal Harbour has a gorgeous stretch of Seawall that’s perfect for stretching your legs any time of day (or night). Along the northern border, it’s all ocean, providing gorgeous real estate against Vancouver Harbour, with plenty of green space to enjoy as well. This is another great feature if you’re travelling with kids!
In the evenings, Coal Harbour is generally quiet, as with Waterfront and the Financial District. It’s largely residential, with far fewer bars and restaurants than you’ll find in other downtown neighborhoods. This area also isn’t well-served by Skytrain, so you’ll have to use your own two feet or buses to get to other neighborhoods.
Who Should Stay in Waterfront & Coal Harbour?
This is one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver for business travelers.
Beyond the business crowd, however, older travelers, families with kids, and anyone who wants to stay in the heart of downtown, without worrying about noise at night will love this part of the city.
Top Waterfront & Coal Harbour Highlights
- Olympic Cauldron and Jack Poole Plaza + Seawall – A public square, right on the water, and home to the Olympic Cauldron from when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. There’s a few restaurants around the square if you’re hungry. Otherwise, it’s a nice spot to stretch the legs! From the Plaza, you can walk along the water on the Seawall to Canada Place and the Raindrop sculpture. There are a few pubs and restaurants along here, as well.
- Seaplane Terminal – If you’re up for a splurge and you have nice weather, this is one of the most beautiful experiences in Vancouver – taking a seaplane from downtown Vancouver to Victoria or one of the Gulf Islands. We did it a few years back, flying to Saltspring Island after work for my brother’s wedding. Flying over Lions Gate Bridge was amazing – it was truly beautiful. If you don’t plan on going to Victoria or the Gulf Islands, you can also book sightseeing flights that take-off and land at the Vancouver Seaplane Terminal at Waterfront. If you don’t want to splurge on a flight ($129 for the sightseeing flight), it’s fun to watch the planes take off and land in nice weather!
- Stanley Park – Stanley Park is a massive park in downtown Vancouver, and a local favorite. It’s home to the Vancouver Aquarium, 27 kilometers of trails through the forest, a long stretch of Seawall, playgrounds, a pitch and putt, several restaurants, a saltwater and ocean-front swimming pool, a kids train, and more.
Staying in Waterfront & Coal Harbour Pros & Cons
- Convenient and central, with generally good public transit access.
- Quiet in the evenings.
- Plenty of hotels to choose from.
- Lots of restaurants, pubs, and cafes around.
- Quiet in the evenings – if you’re looking to be in the centre of nightlife, you should stay elsewhere.
- The western part of Coal Harbour isn’t convenient to the Skytrain, but is served by buses.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in Waterfront & Coal Harbour
Lord Stanley Suites on the Park: Coal Harbour Mid Range
A 3-star hotel a short walk from Stanley Park and Coal Harbour, this places gets rave reviews from guests for the views. From the exterior, the glass building looks like a typical apartment building for the neighborhood, and that makes sense as the rooms have an apartment-style feel to them, with a dishwasher, fridge, and dining area. Looks like a great option for families!
Westin Bayshore: Coal Harbour Mid-High Range
I can imagine the main draw to this place is the location, with what I’d guess to be absolutely stunning views (the reviews of past guests confirm this!). Right in Coal Harbour, this would be a nice spot for tranquil evenings, and is close enough that you can walk to the Art Gallery (which is right in the centre of downtown) in 10 to 15 minutes.
Hyatt Regency Downtown: Financial District Mid Range
This place gets great reviews, seems like a great value, and the rooms look really nice. Again though, this is a bit of a boring area – it’s convenient, and you’ll be able to quickly get everywhere you need to go, it’s just not that exciting! If you’re coming to Vancouver for a conference at the convention centre, this is only a 5 minute walk away.
Sutton Place Hotel: Financial District Mid-High Range
For a long time, I remember this hotel as being the luxury hotel in Vancouver (along with the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver). These days, there are a lot more options, and it seems the Sutton Place has adapted, offering more mid-range pricing. The benefits of this spot are it’s very central! The downside is the neighbourhood, while fine, isn’t particularly charming (We used to live 5 minutes’ walk from here though, an loved it!).
Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront: 4-Star Amazing Views
I’m a fan of the Pinnacle hotels (there’s one in North Vancouver, too, which I recommend if you want a quieter base while in Vancouver). A 4-star, this is in a great spot if you’re in Vancouver for a cruise, for fun, or for business. Clean, comfy and modern, some of the rooms have spectacular views, and it gets an all-round great review from past guests.
Century Plaza Hotel & Spa: Financial District Budget
This is about as budget as it gets in this area of Vancouver! Again, this is in a really central area, but kind of boring neighbourhood. That said, this is where we told out-of-town family members to stay when they visited us a few years ago, and it was perfect! If I recall, they have family-style suites with sofas, etc., which may give you more room to spread out, especially if travelling with kidlets!
L’Hermitage Hotel: Popular High End Hotel
A top seller in Vancouver, L’Hermitage is beautiful, and gets consistently fantastic reviews from past guests. It’s in a great location for shopping, dining, catching a show or doing business. Top-end features include an outdoor, saltwater pool and jacuzzi tub, luxury bathrobes, garden patio, and 24-hour gym.
Wedgewood Hotel & Spa: Historical Icon
A bit of a Vancouver institution, the Wedgewood is one of Vancouver’s best hotels, offering old-world service and style for your stay. Beautiful rooms and common space, with a top-rated restaurant on-site (Bacchus). Regardless whether or not you stay here, try to stop by Bacchus at least once during your stay in Vancouver, even if it’s just for a glass of wine or cocktail.
Rosewood Hotel Georgia: 5-Star Classic
Another Vancouver institution, I’m pretty sure my grandparents stayed here more than 70 years ago on their wedding night! The hotel offers a downtown courtesy car, a salt water pool and an outdoor lounge. The Rosewood is situated across from the Vancouver Art Gallery and easy to explore all of downtown rom here.
Le Soleil: 4-Star
Sumptuous is the word that comes to mind with the Le Soleil: a bed as comfortable as a cloud; luxury, traditional furnishing and decor, and a steam room and fitness centre. It gets fantastic reviews and is in a great location, close to Canada Place.
The Fairmont Waterfront & Fairmont Pacific Rim: Waterfront/Financial District (High-End/Luxury)
The two Fairmont properties are very popular with visitors to Vancouver, with the Waterfront being the less expensive, older of the two (it’s a 4-star), and the Pacific Rim being the more upscale luxury edition (a 5-star). Both get great reviews and offer nice views of the city! The Fairmont also has a third property nearby — the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This is the oldest of the three, but it’s a classic building that will take you back to the Vancouver of the 1920s!
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Where to Stay in Vancouver – Neighborhood Guide
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Yaletown
Yaletown has some of Vancouver’s most sought-after residential condos, and is a true city of glass. Whereas Gastown and area has retained its historical architecture, Yaletown is full of gleaming condo towers, the windows of which reflect the shimmering ocean just outside their front doors. It’s where you’ll find professionals with money to burn dining alongside ordinary Vancouverites on a low-key night out. Yaletown is more “restaurant and drinks” than “dance the night away.”
Yaletown is home to a long stretch of Vancouver’s waterside Sea Wall – a beloved pedestrian and bike path that runs around Downtown. David Lam park serves as the neighborhood’s green space, and is a gorgeous spot to spend a sunny day.
Yaletown also has an always-happening restaurant scene. Along the two-block stretch between Davie and Nelson Streets, you’ll find fantastic restaurants standing shoulder-to-shoulder on both Hamilton and Mainland Streets.
Prices are higher than in some areas of Vancouver, but it’s hard to argue given how close it is to a gorgeous piece of ocean and seawall, a large beautiful park, and so many great restaurants and bars. Plus, it’s right by a Skytrain station for getting around, and is close to the Aquabus to Granville Island.
If you’re looking for a boutique feel for your stay in Vancouver, Yaletown is definitely worth considering!
Who Should Stay in Yaletown?
If you’re in Vancouver on a luxury getaway, consider staying in Yaletown. There are a few lovely boutique hotels in Yaletown (Opus and Hotel Blu) worth considering, and the luxury property, The Douglas, is just outside Yaletown proper, but still very convenient. Overall, consider this Vancouver neighborhood for a well-heeled trip, and if you want to be within minutes of the ocean (but not beachfront: Yaletown’s Seawall is all about hanging out and strolling). Yaletown has a Skytrain stop, making it convenient to get around from here. It’s also very walkable.
Yaletown is one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver for couples traveling without kids, or for a luxury getaway to Vancouver. If you’re bothered by noise, Yaletown probably isn’t a top area to stay in Vancouver, as it’s heavily oriented to the drinking and dining crowd.
Top Yaletown Highlights
- David Lam Park – A large ocean-front park just across Pacific Boulevard from Yaletown’s bar and restaurant area.
- Eating and Drinking on Hamilton and Mainland Streets – These two streets are the heart of Yaletown, and is where you’ll find the areas ample selection of bars and restaurants.
Staying in Yaletown Pros & Cons
- Beautiful location close to the waterfront.
- Relatively posh part of downtown, perfect for a luxury trip to Vancouver.
- Wide selection of restaurants to choose from.
- Well connected via public transit, and easy to get to other downtown locations on foot.
- Close to Roger’s Arena, in case you’re in town for a concert, hockey game, or other event.
- Can be loud in the evenings due to its proximity to so many restaurants.
- More expensive than some other areas of downtown Vancouver.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in Yaletown
Opus Hotel Yaletown: Luxury Boutique
Yaletown’s speciality is trendy, boutique-style experiences, and on this Opus seems to deliver, getting superb ratings from guests for pretty much everything. It’s also in a fantastic location right by the Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain station, and within walking distance from a beautiful stretch of ocean!
Hampton Inn & Suites: Mid-Range
Similar to Hotel Blu, this isn’t in Yaletown proper, but right on the edge, providing convenient walking access to Yaletown, and pretty much everywhere else in Vancouver! This is a more affordable option, right in the heart of Vancouver, as compared to some of the more boutique-style hotels, and it gets fabulous reviews from past guests.
Hotel Blu Vancouver: High End
Located at the east end of Robson street near the public library, and on the border of Yaletown, this place is about equal distance between the Yaletown-Roundhouse and City Centre Skytrain stations. In other words, it’s very convenient. This is also a quieter and more liveable end of Robson, as compared to the west and central bits. This particular hotel gets superb reviews on pretty much everything, and seems like a solid choice in this area.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Gastown, Railtown & Chinatown
Gastown has always been one of Vancouver’s most popular neighborhoods with tourists. Over the past one or two decades, however, it’s also become popular with a young creative class of Vancouverites, with Railtown and Chinatown growing into adjacent neighborhood destinations in their own right.
Gastown, Railtown and Chinatown kind of melt into one another, heading from west to east starting around Waterfront station.
Of the three, Gastown is the most tourist-friendly. Once the exclusive domain of tacky souvenir shops, Gastown has experienced a revival over the last decade or so, helped in large part by the growth of Hootsuite, which kicked off the area’s tech and design start-up scene.
When rents got too high in Gastown, start-ups moved to Railtown, a train-track-adjacent narrow strip of land between Gastown, Chinatown and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Railtown sits roughly between Columbia Street and Heatley Ave running east-west, and the rail yards and Alexander Street running north-south.
Now, even Chinatown is facing gentrification: part of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – hands-down the dodgiest part of the city, although a changing and close-knit community as well – Chinatown now has hip restaurants and bars that make it worthwhile the walk beyond Gastown.
Gastown/Railtown are among the oldest and best-preserved areas in Vancouver. Generally speaking, it’s filled with low-rise brick buildings from the early twentieth century, and has a pretty, quaint feeling to it. Beyond its good looks and vibrant dining and drinking scene, Gastown is only 15 minutes’ walk from Granville Street, and offers easy access to Waterfront station for catching the Skytrain and SeaBus.
The downside of staying in Gastown/Railtown is it borders the Downtown Eastside, infamous for its drugs and prostitution problems. The crime rate is low in Vancouver, and I feel very safe walking around Gastown by myself until about midnight (earlier in Railtown, which isn’t as busy), or after midnight if I’m in a group. However, if you’re intimidated by coming face-to-face with this kind of thing, Gastown/Railtown probably isn’t the best area to stay in Vancouver for you. While not particularly dangerous, families with young kids may not enjoy staying in this area.
Everything above about Gastown/Railtown also holds true for Chinatown, although it’s rougher around the edges compared to Gastown/Railtown. It’s still very convenient, but it is facing rapid change and gentrification, and there currently aren’t really any decent hotels to choose from.
Your best bet is to stay in Gastown/Railtown, and visit Chinatown.
Who Should Stay in Gastown/Railtown/Chinatown?
Gastown and Railtown are the heart of Vancouver’s start-up culture, and as a result have a young professional, creative class kind of vibe happening. Both areas are fairly gentrified these days, and have lost the grit of days past. However, they do get some of the “spillover grit” from their proximity to the Downtown Eastside. Chinatown sits a bit east from Gastown and Railtown, and melts into the Downtown Eastside.
Stay in Gastown or Railtown if you want a young creative and professional scene. Gastown / Railtown is also a fantastic area of Vancouver to stay for a food-themed trip, as they have some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Couples and friends who love food and drinks would be best-served by this area. Older travelers, those bothered by street noise, and families with kids would probably prefer one of Vancouver’s other neighborhoods.
If you’re tight on cash and wondering where to stay in Vancouver on a budget, The Cambie is one of Vancouver’s most famous hostels (and drinking spots). It’s original location is in Gastown.
Top Gastown/Railtown Chinatown Highlights
- The Gastown Steam Clock – A clock that spews steam at the top of the hour, the Gastown Steam Clock is actually fairly unique within the world. Head there at the top of the hour to see the show.
- Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden – An authentic traditional Chinese garden, it was the first of its kind built outside of China when it was finished in 1986. A wonderfully quiet spot within the city, especially considering how hectic this area can get!
- Food & Drink Scene – This part of Vancouver is bursting with creative food and drink, and this is one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver for food. See below for some suggestions to get you started.
- Boutique Shopping – Gastown has loads of little boutiques, and half the fun is wandering through the neighborhood discovering them for yourself. Old Faithful Shop is one of our personal favorites.
Where to Eat and Drink in Gastown/Railtown and Chinatown
- Pourhouse – Comfort food and gorgeous cocktails, served up with an old-timey feel.
- Alibi Room – Self-styled as a “modern tavern,” The Alibi Room is a Vancouver classic. Great selection of craft beer, wine, and lovely cocktails.
- Blood Alley – Running from Abbott to Carrall streets, and running parallel to Water Street and West Cordova, Blood Alley is home to a number of great spots to eat. Hit up Salt Tasting Room for charcuterie and wine, Gringo or Tacofino for tacos, MeeT for casual burgers and comfort eats, and L’Abbatoir for French-inspired West Coast.
- Railtown Cafe – Sandwiches, salads, and bowls, with great coffee. Beer and wine also available.
- Belgard Kitchen, Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery – Food, beer, and wine, together at The Settlement Building in Railtown. Belgard is the restaurant, providing food to all three sister businesses. If you want to eat, drink craft beer, or sip BC wine made in the heart of Vancouver, head here.
- The Mackenzie Room – Family-style dining, where you pay one fee and get a chef’s selection of food and wine. Menus are for 4 or 2 people, but they can customize if you have more or fewer people.
- Ask for Luigi – Reliably good Italian.
- St Lawrence – Quebecois-inspired haute country cooking.
Staying in Gastown/Chinatown Pros & Cons
- Fabulous dining and drinking scene ensures you’ll never be hungry (or thirsty).
- Central and convenient, with easy access to Skytrain for going further afield. Largely walkable to other downtown locations.
- Close to the waterfront for when you want a dose of natural beauty.
- Limited selection of hotels to choose from. That said, there are some good holiday apartments to choose from in this area.
- Can be loud in evenings and weekends, as it’s a popular area with Vancouverites of all ages to come eat and drink.
- Location close to the Downtown Eastside means you may come across some prostitution and drug-use (beyond smoking marijuana, which is legal and you’ll come across pretty much everywhere downtown).
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in Gastown & Chinatown
Victorian Hotel Vancouver: Mid-Range Boutique
A 3-star boutique 5 blocks from the Steam Clock, this hotel is a converted Victorian guesthouse with good reviews that focus on the comfortable rooms. The pictures make it look stylish and modern, and like a great base from which to explore Vancouver.
Delta Hotel & Suites: Mid-Range Chain
This is in a pretty good location, on the border of what I’d call downtown and Gastown. It’s easy to walk to Waterfront Station, anywhere in Gastown, and anywhere in downtown, really. The downside is in’t not really in a neighbourhood, proper, although none of the Gastown recommendations really are. It gets fantastic reviews from previous guests.
Skwachays Healing Lodge: Boutique & Socially Conscious (My Pick!)
Owned and operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, this First Nations-run boutique hotel combines luxury with social responsibility, offering 24 shelter-rate rooms for First Nations people at risk of homelessness, 18 luxury boutique hotel suites, an Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery, and a sweat lodge and smudge room. Vancouver’s culture and heritage can’t be understood without understanding the impact of the First Nations groups in the region. This hotel was named by the hereditary chief of the Squamish First Nations, whose territory the hotel is built on.
If I had to find somewhere to stay in Vancouver, this would be my pick for this neighbourhood. It looks awesome!
Where to Stay in Vancouver: The Granville Entertainment District
Granville Street is massive, running from Waterfront almost all the way to the airport. The Granville Entertainment District is a stretch of Granville street running through downtown, running more or less from Dunsmuir in the north to Drake in the south (before it turns into South Granville, on the other side of the Granville Street Bridge). Most bars are between Robson Street and Davie Street.
The Granville Entertainment District has a slightly rough around the edges feel to it, but is full of life and generally very safe. It’s home to cheap street food vendors, bars and nightclubs, live music venues, and shops – most of which aren’t particularly high end.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, there’s a large police presence along here. Don’t be alarmed – this is more or less there to deal with anyone who’s had too much to drink.
Granville Entertainment District is a good spot for budget hotel chains such as Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Howard Johnson. It offers easy access to Yaletown, Gastown, Davie Village/Westend and Waterfront, is well-served by Skytrain, and is generally super convenient (although less picturesque than some other Vancouver neighborhoods).
That said, it’s certainly not quiet. It is a bit of a party area, is right downtown, and is lively and loud. Geoff and I lived one block off Granville Street at Nelson for almost 3 years, and we loved it. We could walk to Yaletown in about 5 minutes, Gastown in about 20 minutes, and the Westend in about 20 minutes. It wasn’t the most picturesque, and it doesn’t have a neighborhood feel to it, but it is really convenient!
Who Should Stay in The Granville Entertainment District?
Granville Entertainment District is the best area to stay in Vancouver for nightlife. There are plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues, so it’s also great if you’re coming to the city for a gig. It’s also a good place to stay in Vancouver on a budget, as there are a number of budget hotel chains to choose from.
Top Granville Entertainment District Highlights
- The Commodore Ballroom – Opened in 1930, The Commodore is one of Vancouver’s most iconic venues for live music and has played host to many music legends. When it opened, its horse-hair-sprung dance floor made it the best dance floor in town. The Commodore was refurbished and reopened in 1999. In 2011, is was named one of the most influential clubs in North America by Billboard Magazine.
Staying in The Granville Entertainment District Pros & Cons
- Plenty of clubs and music venues on your doorstep, if you’re in Vancouver for nightlife or to see live gigs.
- Selection of affordable hotels.
- Central and convenient, with Skytrain and bus access, and within easy walking distance to Yaletown, Westend/English Bay, and Gastown.
- Not particularly picturesque, with a gritty side.
- Loud due to the crowd and clubs / bars on the street.
- If you’re walking back to your hotel at night, chances are you’ll pass quite a few drunk people.
- Expect to smell marijuana in this area (which is legal).
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in The Granville Entertainment District
Best Western Plus Chateau Granville
We’ve had visiting family stay here too, and it ended up being a really good option. The main downside to staying in this location is the noise. In exchange, you are right in the heart of downtown Vancouver, and can walk anywhere, including down to the Yaletown seawall in less than 10 minutes! It can get a bit gritty on weekend evenings. It feels safe and there are lots of Police out to discourage tom-foolery, but because it’s in the entertainment district, there can be a lot of drunkenness.
With an address that is technically one block off Granville Street, there’s a chance this might be slightly quieter than the other two options listed in this area, and it gets reasonable reviews, however, some of the rooms do face onto Granville. Formerly a Comfort Inn, it got a makeover and rebrand in 2018. My main hesitation about this hotel is it has an always-busy Irish Pub in the basement. So it really just depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to have fun, this could be a great budget place. If you want tranquility, I’d keep looking!
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown
A 3-star, this place looks okay if you’re mostly looking for a bed to crash in, and plan to spend most of your time out exploring. It’s really conveniently located to Yaletown, about 5 minutes’ walk away, and is on Granville Street, a major public transit thoroughfare. You’d also be able to walk across the Granville Street Bridge from here, to get to Granville Island, or across the Cambie Street Bridge, which offers great views of the City of Glass! It doesn’t look like a bad option for the price, but the reviews are rather lackluster.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: The Westend, English Bay & Davie Village
The Westend is one of the most sought-after areas to live in for young Vancouverites renting apartments. The great thing about the Westend is it feels like a neighborhood: 4 to 5-storey buildings, tree-lined streets, and little cafés and shops hidden here and there. It’s much quieter than Yaletown, which sits at the east end of Davie Street, and is filled with students and 20- and 30-somethings renting, and long-time residents who’ve been there forever. The pièce de résistance of the West End is English Bay, a gorgeous beach on the Burrard Inlet, and sitting at the southern border of Stanley Park. In the summer, it’s filled with locals on the beach or park, or running along the seawall walkway that runs parallel to the ocean.
Denman Street, which runs from just beyond Stanley Park until Beach Avenue in the South, has lots of cafés, restaurants and shops. Davie Village is a pocket within the West End, sitting at the western end of Davie Street, between Burrard and Jervis. It is Vancouver’s most LGBT-friendly neighborhood, and is where you’ll find the city’s best gay bars. During Vancouver’s Pride Week, Davie Village is the epicenter of Vancouver pride week, and shows its pride year round with rainbow-painted crosswalks.
Overall, this part of Vancouver is a laid-back beach neighborhood. Expect nice cafés and eateries, gay-friendly, and beachside. Families will also like this neighborhood, particularly around English Bay.
Who Should Stay in The West End, English Bay & Davie Village?
The West End and Davie Village is the best area to stay in Vancouver for Pride Week, as it’s the epicenter of the festivities.
Families with kids will also love the West End and English Bay, because of the beach. It’s a gorgeous and relatively quiet part of the city, with nice green space and a sandy beach. Just down the Seawall, there is a public pool at Second Beach, a 15- to 20-minute walk from English Bay Beach. The pool is open May to September, and is super kid friendly.
Top Westend Highlights
- English Bay – Beautiful outdoor setting, lovely for spending a day or evening.
- Second Beach – A public beach with a family-friendly outdoor swimming pool that’s open May to September.
- A-maze-ing Laughter – 14 cheerful sculptures by Beijing artist Yue Minjun.
- Stanley Park & The Sea Wall – This section of Stanley Park tends to be a little less busy than the northern part near Coal Harbour, which is where you’ll find the Aquarium.
Staying in The Westend Pros & Cons
- Beautiful setting, and quiet in the evenings compared to other areas of downtown.
- Nice selection of cafes and restaurants along Davie and Denman.
- Close proximity to Stanley Park and Second Beach, as well as a nice stretch of Sea Wall.
- LGBT friendly, especially in Davie Village.
- No Skytrain access, meaning you’ll have to rely on buses and walking.
- Not the liveliest of nightlife areas. You’re more likely to find pubs and restaurants than raucous nightclubs, although Davie Village is home to some gay clubs.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in the Westend
The Sylvia Hotel: English Bay Mid-Range
The Sylvia is one of Vancouver’s most classic buildings: beautiful old stone, covered in ivy, with a location right on Beach Avenue in the Westend, with an impressive view of the beach and English Bay. It’s been nicely updated with modern rooms, and would be a nice pick for friends visiting Vancouver, or a couple. Whenever I visit English Bay and this area of Vancouver, I’m reminded of why I love this city!
Best Western Plus Sands Hotel: Westend Mid-Range
Located right at the west-end of Davie Street, this hotel is minutes from the beach, and is located in one of the nicest areas to stay in Vancouver. What I love about the West End/English Bay area of Vancouver, is it is full of locals, so you won’t have the typical tourist experience. This Best Western gets very good reviews from past guests, and is reasonably priced considering how close you are to the beach.
Sandman Suites: Davie Village Mid-Range
Right in the midst of Davie Village, this place gets good (but not fantastic) reviews, and is in a great location, less than 10 minutes from the water, and walkable to the Art Gallery, Yaletown, and the Granville Entertainment area. You could easily walk across the Burrard Street bridge from this location to explore Kitsilano, across the Bay, and could take a longer walk down to Gastown. From here, it’s about a 10 to 15-minute walk from a Skytrain.
Other Vancouver Neighbourhoods to Consider
Most travelers choose to stay downtown when they’re visiting Vancouver. There are plenty of attractions, great public transit, an impressive selection of bars and restaurants, and a lot of hotels to choose from.
However, if you want to stay outside of Vancouver’s downtown core, the city has a lot of lovely neighborhoods you should consider North Vancouver, Olympic Village/Granville Island, Kitsilano, and Mount Pleasant/Main Street.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: North Vancouver
North Vancouver is one of Vancouver’s Best Neighborhoods for those who want to get out of the downtown core, experience Vancouver like a local, and enjoy a laid-back mixed-use area that combines condo living with plenty of restaurants, cafés, pubs and shops.
Just across the harbour from downtown Vancouver, North Van’s Lower Lonsdale area is a great place to stay if you want a quieter, more local vibe while still being near downtown (a 15-minute ride on the Seabus public ferry).
This is a great place to stay if you want a quieter, more local vibe while still being near downtown (a 15-minute ride on the Seabus). That said, there are far fewer hotels to choose from than in downtown.
The municipal government has carefully planned the area, and it’s now relatively buzzing, but still quieter than downtown. It has plenty of good restaurants and pubs, and a pretty waterfront to enjoy.
I was born in North Van, and grew up here, so I’m certainly partial to this part of the city. It’s come a long way in the past decade in terms of what it offers to travellers. As a residential area, it’s popular with young families, young professionals without kids, and active retirees.
North Vancouver itself is quite large. That said, I’d probably suggest you only consider staying on Lower Lonsdale, near Lonsdale Quay and the Shipyards, from Keith Road to the water. There are a few hotels to choose from in the area, and lots of restaurants. North Vancouver is a lot quieter than downtown, so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, a low-key but cool neighborhood feel, this could be a great bet. In the summer the Shipyards is a really vibrant area, with events such as food truck festivals happening on regular evenings.
Note, if you’re coming to Vancouver to party, this probably isn’t a great option. The Seabus stops running between midnight and 1am, depending on which night of the week it is. If you miss the last Seabus from downtown to North Van, a taxi will cost you around $50.
You’re also conveniently located to visit the North Shore mountains (Grouse and Cypress are the most popular) and Deep Cove, a beautiful little village with great hiking and kayaking.
Who Should Stay in North Vancouver?
Families with kids should consider staying in North Vancouver. The Lower Lonsdale area has plenty of young families living there, and there are a few parks and a great pedestrianized area down at the Shipyards and in front of Lonsdale Quay.
Anyone who prefers staying in a local neighborhood, as opposed to downtown, should also consider
Top North Vancouver Highlights
- Grouse Mountain – Part ski resort, part tourist attraction. In winter, the main activity up Grouse is skiing and snowboarding, but don’t skip a trip here if you don’t like either. Grouse also offers snowshoeing, sliding and skating in winter. In summer, you can visit the Grizzly Bear habitat, do some hiking, watch the Lumber Jack show, and more. Also super cool – you can visit the inside of a wind turbine for spectacular views of the mountain and city as part of their Eye of the Wind experience (in either summer or winter). Grouse also has several cafés and restaurants. If you don’t want to deal with public transit or a rental care, you can visit Cap Bridge and Grouse in an organized day trip.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge – Capilano Suspension Bridge is a bit of a misnomer. There is a suspension bridge, to be sure. It spans a deep canyon, and provides spectacular views. But the Suspension Bridge area includes so much more, including the Cliff Walk and Treetop Adventure. The Bridge is pretty much always busy, and most people combine it with a visit to Grouse Mountain, so you might consider a day tour that includes the whole shebang. As a cheaper alternative, go to Lynn Canyon, which has a free suspension bridge, and has some nice walks.
- Deep Cove – The Cove, as it’s known locally, is a beautiful ocean-side village in the eastern part of North Van. There’s not a lot to do here other than enjoy the experience of being there, but there are some nice shops and restaurants along the main strip leading down to the water. Honey’s Doughnuts is probably most famous; apparently Kate Winslet is a devotee. You can also rent kayaks out here to explore the water, and the Quarry Rock hike is always beautiful in nice weather.
Staying in North Vancouver Pros & Cons
- Convenient for getting downtown via the Seabus, but quiet and a bit more tranquil than downtown.
- Plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafés in the Lower Lonsdale area.
- Nice waterfront at the Shipyards and Lonsdale Quay – great area for people of all ages to walk around and enjoy the views and sea air.
- Not nearly as many hotels to choose from.
- Not a lot in the way of nightlife, beyond some laid back pubs. If you want to dance, club, or see live music, you’d be better off downtown.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in North Vancouver
The Pinnacle at the Pier: Mid-Range
This would probably be my top choice if I needed a hotel in the area. It’s a nice hotel (with great brunches that we have enjoyed many times, and a nice hotel bar…that we have also enjoyed many times) in a great area at the bottom of lower Lonsdale. It is insanely convenient, less than 5 minutes from the Sea Bus (to get downtown) and a Bus hub, where you can catch buses to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. And there’s a decent number of restaurants, cafés and lounge/pub-style bars to choose from. Plus, I would guess it has great views of both the mountains and the ocean, depending on which way your room faces.
Lonsdale Quay Hotel: Mid/High End
This is really the only other hotel I’d recommend for North Vancouver, and it’s a stone’s throw from the Pinnacle, but slightly more expensive. The cool thing about this hotel is it’s on top of Lonsdale Quay market, which combines shops and food stalls, a small microbrewery, and has a relaxed atmosphere to it, especially in the summer, when street performers come out to the waterfront. Again, this hotel would offer spectacular water views, depending on which way you’re facing!
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Granville Island & Olympic Village
❶ Granville Island Public Market; ❷ Science World;
❶ Granville Island Hotel
Olympic Village is an up-and-comer in terms of being one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver. As the name implies, it housed athletes during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Once the Olympics were finished, things didn’t look awesome for Olympic Village, as it struggled with low occupancy and was a bit of a wasteland for a few years.
In the past 5 years or so, however, Olympic Village has started to come into its own as cool place to live in Vancouver. Shops, restaurants, and pubs have moved in, and all of a sudden it has a vibrant village-within-a-city feel.
The benefits to staying in Olympic Village: it’s about a 5-block walk to a Skytrain, you can access downtown via the Aquabus water taxi, there are a few nice restaurants/pubs to enjoy, and you’ll be surrounded by locals. Via the Aquabus private water taxi, it’s only about a 5-minute ride across False Creek to Yaletown, so you’ll have no problem getting right downtown.
The problem: there aren’t any hotels in this area – it’s apartments only, which means it’d be worth checking out Airbnb (if you’ve never used Airbnb, and you use this link to sign up, you’ll get a $25 Canadian [or equivalent in your currency] toward your first stay!). Booking.com also lists holiday apartments these days. There aren’t a huge number in the area, but you might luck out.
Granville Island is another option. It’s in a beautiful area, underneath the Granville Street Bridge on False Creek. The centrepiece of Granville Island is the food market, where people come to buy fresh fruit, veggies and meat, as well as gourmet options like artisan and flavoured olive oil. Granville Island also has a theatre, and quite a few bars and restaurants to choose from!
Who Should Stay on Granville Island & Olympic Village?
Families with kids will likely appreciate the neighborhood vibe of Olympic Village. It’s a popular area with families with young kids, and traffic is relatively limited in the area, making it a nice spot for kids to stretch their legs.
Granville Island will appeal to couples looking for a cozy, romantic vibe, families with kids, and anyone who prefers peace and quiet to a raucous nightlife!
Top Granville Island & Olympic Village Highlights
- Granville Island – Granville Island is the highlight in this area. The public market is always worth a visit to shop from local artisans and food producers. The kids market is heaven for the under 10 crowd – lots of toys, books, etc. to choose from. On a sunny day, Granville Island is a lovely spot to simply hang out and walk around!
Staying on Granville Island & Olympic Village Pros & Cons
- Local neighborhood feel in Olympic Village.
- Good selection of restaurants, pubs and cafés to choose from.
- Quaint and lovely ambience on Granville Island.
- Limited selection of hotels.
- You’ll need to do a bit of walking to access public transit.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels on Granville Island
Granville Island Hotel
Granville Island only has one hotel, and this is it! While it seems a bit expensive given its 3-star rating, you’re really paying for the location if you choose to stay here: it’s unique, beautiful, and very Vancouver! It also gets very good reviews from past guests as a romantic, boutique option with fantastic views.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Kitsilano
❶ Kits Beach; ❷ Vanier Park
Kits, as its affectionally nicknamed, is filled with UBC students, young professionals, and young families. It sits just across from downtown over the Burrard Street Bridge. With a lovely park and beach with an outdoor pool, and some nice cafés and restaurants, Kits has a chilled out residential vibe.
This is a great area for families, as the park and beach provide plenty of real estate for running around! Young, active couples who don’t want to party (but are happy for some restaurants and pubs to choose from) should also consider Kits. Overall, it’s got an outdoorsy-yoga vibe to it.
Kits doesn’t have a Skytrain, but it’s a fairly easy walk across the Burrard Street Bridge to downtown, and there are good bus connections.
Who Should Stay in Kitsilano?
Families and anyone who’s happy to stay in a residential neighborhood that’s laid back and fairly close to downtown will like Kitsilano. Kits is a true Vancouver beach neighborhood, so if that’s your jam, definitely consider staying here!
Top Kitsilano Highlights
- Kits Beach & Kits Pool – Kits Beach is lovely anytime of year, but really comes into its own in nice weather, of course. From May to September, Kits Pool is open – it’s an outdoor saltwater swimming pool: the only of its kind in the city.
- Vanier Park – Home to the Planetarium and Vancouver Museum, and a lovely spot in its own right.
Staying in Kitsilano Pros & Cons
- Lovely beachside neighborhood vibe.
- Close to downtown.
- Beautiful beach and parks.
- Nice shopping and dining scene along West 4th Avenue.
- Convenient for getting to UBC.
- No Skytrain.
- Limited selection of hotels
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in Kitsilano
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Mount Pleasant / South Main
❶ Earnest Ice Cream; ❷ Brassneck Brewery
Mount Pleasant is Vancouver’s hipster-est neighborhood. Think craft beer, third-wave coffee, independent designers, and funky little restaurants. It’s one of the best areas to stay in Vancouver if you want to do some boutique shopping.
Expect to find all sorts of people along this stretch of Main Street, which runs roughly from East 2nd all the way up to 33rd. Of course, there are the long-time residents who’ve been here for ages. You’ll also find plenty of young people in their 20s through 40s, including students and professionals, singles and young families.
If you don’t stay around here, it’s still worth coming to check out the craft food scene (see highlights section).
Who Should Stay in Mount Pleasant / Main Street?
Anyone who wants more of an alternative vibe, and is looking for a true community and neighborhood-like feel, will likely enjoy Main Street. The closest Skytrain access is along Cambie Street, 7 blocks from Main, which is certainly manageable if you don’t mind walking. Overall, Main Street has a young-to-middle-age crowd, and you’ll find lots of people with and without kids.
Top Mount Pleasant / Main Street Highlights
- Earnest Ice Cream – Offering real ice cream and a vegan version, Earnest Ice Cream is all about creative flavours. Their offering is constantly changing, but flavors like whiskey hazelnut, oatmeal brown sugar, vegan toasted coconut, and London Fog should give you an idea of what to expect. Don’t worry if you’re a traditionalist: they usually have a few “normal” flavours, too.
- Brassneck Brewery – Go to fill your growler, stay for a tasting flight. Their tasting room is pretty small (50 person capacity) and fills up fast, and there’s often a food truck outside to provide the chow.
- Main Street Brewing – Located in the historic Vancouver Breweries Garage building, you can find food and beer here. The food menu is small and fairly “pub grub” oriented. The beer menu is not small and includes 5 year-round beers, a varying number of seasonal beers (23 at the time of writing), and a couple of collaborations, specialty beers, and fresh beers.
- 33 Acres Brewing – Great beer, great food, and family friendly. Always booming.
- Boutique Shopping – There are also some great boutiques along here, with Eugene Choo, Front & Co., Smoking Lily, and Twig & Hottie are some personal favorites!
- Dude Chilling Park – Not its real name, but this story gives you an idea of this community’s character. A piece of public art in Guelph Park led residents to start referring to the park as “Dude Chilling Park.” After an artist replaced the park sign over night (and the Park Board removed it), residents protested, and a permanent “Dude Chilling Park” sign was installed.
Staying in Mount Pleasant / Main Street Pros & Cons
- Local vibe with a neighborhood feel – you’ll be staying with Vancouverites rather than tourists if you stay here.
- Close to downtown, with access via the Skytrain at Cambie.
- Great craft breweries to enjoy, along with nice restaurants and cafes.
- Good shopping scene, particular if you’re looking for local designers and small labels.
- Limited selection of hotels.
- No sightseeing in the immediate area. You’ll need to leave the neighborhood to see Vancouver’s top things to do and experience.
Where to Stay in Vancouver: Top Vancouver Hotels in Mount Pleasant / Main Street
The Best Area to Stay in Vancouver and Vancouver FAQs
So Where Should You Stay in Vancouver?
- Best Overall Neighborhood to Stay in Vancouver for Tourists: Downtown Vancouver, around Waterfront, Coal Harbour and the Financial District
- Best Hipster Neighborhoods to Stay in Vancouver: Main Street / Mount Pleasant
- Best Area to Stay in Vancouver on a Budget: Granville Entertainment District
- Best Area to Stay in Vancouver with Kids: English Bay, Kitsilano, or Lower Lonsdale (North Vancouver)
- Best Area to Stay in Vancouver for Shopping: Main Street / Mount Pleasant, Gastown, Downtown near Pacific Centre
Are there Any Vancouver Neighborhoods to Avoid?
Generally speaking, Vancouver is very safe. However, we do recommend not staying in the Downtown East Side (DTES). This part of the city is often cited as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Canada, but that feels like a bit of an exaggeration in our view. Don’t get us wrong: the DTES has a lot of problems. It’s a poor area of the city, there is a lot of homelessness and prostitution, and hard drug use is rampant. There is certainly violence within the community, but it doesn’t tend to be directed at outsiders and passers-by.
The DTES has murky borders. In the past, the area of East Hastings from around Abbott to Main Street was considered part of the “bad” area of the city. But if you look at a map, you’ll notice this pretty much mixes in with Chinatown and Gastown. The DTES is undergoing a lot of change, and there’s been a lot of gentrification in recent years, especially in this stretch. Two-and-a-half blocks north of East Hastings, for example, you’ll find one of Vancouver’s best restaurants (L’Abattoir) in the super-hip Blood Alley. Three blocks south, and you’ll find another one of Vancouver’s best restaurants, Bao Bei, and the hip Keefer Bar. One of the hotels we recommend for Chinatown is just a block off this stretch. Pigeon Park is still a bit dodgy, but it’s unlikely anyone is going to bother you if you’re passing by.
Go east of Main Street, and things are less gentrified, and rougher. Around Oppenheimer Park, in particular, I’d avoid. But again, a few blocks north is where you’ll find the hip spots of Railtown.
In general, Vancouver is very safe. Yes, the DTES has a lot of problems on public display for anyone in the area to see. But we’ve spent lots of time drinking and dining in the restaurants in the area, and we’ve had friends work in the area, all without issue.
It’s up to you what you feel comfortable with, of course, but I’d personally avoid staying in a hotel in this area and wouldn’t hang around in Pigeon Park or Oppenheimer Park. But I wouldn’t think twice about walking to one of the cool restaurants in the area by myself, or with my kid in tow.
Where is the Best Area to Stay in Vancouver for Nightlife?
The answer to this question really depends on what you mean by “nightlife.”
If you’re looking for a proper nightclub, the Granville Entertainment District is the best place to stay for nightlife. Generally, Vancouver’s best clubs are spread out throughout the downtown area, but the Granville Entertainment District has quite a few of them, including The Roxy, Venue, Red Room Ultrabar, Caprice, and Republic. Commodore Ballroom and The Vogue are also along Granville – they often have great live music.
Yaletown is also a good bet; it’s home to Bar None, but is super walkable to the Granville Entertainment District (only a few blocks).
For gay clubs, Davie Village is the place to be. In particular, check out Celebrities and The Junction.
Gastown/Chinatown is home to Alexander Gastown and Fortune Sound Club, as well as The Cobalt for live music. For a more indie scene, check out Biltmore and Fox Cabaret in the Mount Pleasant/Main Street area.
If your idea of nightlife is more low key, and you’re looking for cocktails, craft beer, or wine and tapas, then consider Gastown, Yaletown, or South Main/Mount Pleasant.
Where to Stay in Vancouver with Kids?
Vancouver is super family-friendly, so I wouldn’t stress too much about finding the best Vancouver neighborhood for kids. That said, some areas are definitely a bit more family friendly than others due to nice pedestrianized areas, plenty of green space, and an overall clean and friendly vibe.
Vancouver’s most family friendly areas to stay with kids include English Bay, Waterfront, Kitsilano and North Vancouver.
Where to Stay in Vancouver on a Budget?
The best cheap places to stay in Vancouver are spread out around the city. According to TripAdvisor, the 10 Best Value Hotels in Vancouver are:
- The Burrard – 3-Star boutique-style hotel near the West End, Granville Entertainment District, and Yaletown. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Atrium Inn Vancouver – 3-Star hotel in East Vancouver and the PNE. Would only recommend staying in this area of the city if you have a car, as transit will be a bit more limited. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre – 3-Star chain hotel in between Chinatown, Granville Entertainment District, and Yaletown. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Victorian Hotel – 2-Star boutique-style hotel in Gastown. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Carmana Plaza – 3-star hotel in the Financial District, close to Waterfront/Coal Harbour, the West End, and Granville Entertainment District. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Buchan Hotel – 2-Star hotel in the West End, near Coal Harbour and Stanley Park. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Blue Horizon Hotel – 3-star hotel in downtown, in between the Financial District, Coal Harbour, and the West End. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Park Inn & Suites – 3-star hotel near Broadway City Hall. Relatively close to Granville Island and Mount Pleasant/Main Street. Convenient for getting to UBC with the B-Line Express Bus. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Residence Inn by Marriott – 3-star hotel near Granville Entertainment District and Yaletown. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
- Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre Broadway – 3-star hotel near Broadway City Hall. Relatively close to Granville Island and Mount Pleasant/Main Street. Convenient for getting to UBC with the B-Line Express Bus. Check Prices and Reviews on Booking.com / TripAdvisor
Getting from Vancouver Airport to the Vancouver
The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located in the city of Richmond, part of the Greater Vancouver Area and serviced by the Skytrain.
Taking the Skytrain from the Airport to Vancouver
Once you exit baggage either from domestic or international arrivals, follow the signs for ‘Canada Line’ and ‘Trains to City.’ You can purchase a ticket at any Translink ticket vending machine or outlet. If you have a contactless Visa or Mastercard or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, you can simply tap as you enter the train and zones/fares will be automatically calculated. Otherwise, you purchase a stored value Compass Card that you tap as you enter and exit. You will preload this card with funds at the time of purchase and will be afforded slight discounts on travel.
Single Journey Adult Fares:
- Zone 1 – $2.95 ($2.30 with a Compass Card)
- Zone 2 – $4.20 ($3.35 with a Compass Card)
- Zone 3 – $5.70 ($4.40 with a Compass Card)
Using tap and pay, or preloading a Compass Card will allow for seamless travel, as discounts apply for time of day and weekend travel (after 6:30pm, and on weekends, all of metro Vancouver is 1 zone).
The Vancouver airport is 2 zones to Vancouver and North Vancouver and a $5 airport surcharge applies and will automatically be added to your Compass card or as you tap in and out.
Taking a Taxi from the Airport to Vancouver
Taxis from the airport operate on a flat rate depending on your destination. A ride to downtown will be between $36-$38 plus tax and gratuity. All taxis operating from the airport are fully trained and licensed. Find the taxis waiting on Level 2 outside Domestic and International Arrivals.
Is there Uber in Vancouver?
Uber and Lyft don’t operate in Vancouver. If you want a taxi, you’ll need to go the traditional route.
Private Transfer from the Airport to Vancouver
Take the hassle out of airport transfers and arrange a private car and driver to take you to your hotel or Vancouver destination. Click here for details.
Top Tours and Excursions from Vancouver
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