Ever had one of those times where you had an amazing opportunity come up, and even though you could only afford a short amount of time to enjoy it, you did it anyway? I had one of those opportunities in Vancouver, and even though it cost a pretty penny, I don’t regret a moment of it.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver not that far away from the Orpheum lies one of the oldest hotels in the city in all her splendor. Built in 1927, the Hotel Georgia was THE place to stay during the golden eras of music and film. It was not uncommon to find celebrities of all kinds tucked in her cozy corners, including Katherine Hepburn, Errol Flynn, Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones. And to top it off, even His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales, and his brother George, the Duke of Kent, stayed there while attending the Seaforth Highlander’s Ball. Now THAT’s one Who’s Who guest list if I ever saw one!
Reopening in 2011 after a major restoration, the Hotel Georgia became part of the Rosewood family of hotels, and was renamed the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. When I stumbled onto this hotel in an article about old-world glam hotels you need to see in your lifetime, I knew I had to see it. But of course, as I suspected, a room at such a legendary hotel also came with a legendary price tag. $348.33 for a single night stay including taxes and fees. I had already booked my stay for most of my trip at another hotel, but then I realized that the Rosewood Hotel Georgia was a mere few blocks away from that location. I knew I would be kicking myself if I didn’t do it, so it was settled. I could only afford one night, but it would be a night of a lifetime.
If you’ve ever driven in downtown Vancouver, then you already know the crazy maze that it is: bus-only lanes in awkward places; no-turning lanes when you REALLY need to turn; waves of pedestrians and cyclists at every corner. I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta in my early years, and I thought I knew downtown traffic. That bubble burst fast in Vancouver. 😉 After what should have been a short drive from my previous hotel—and multiple trips around the block—I finally was able to pull into the parking area behind the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It was here my journey into the lifestyles of the rich and famous began, as I quickly found out that valet parking in the special parkade below was the ONLY option available. Handing over my keys, the valets quickly brought a lavish cart to bring my things inside. Their exquisite care and manners made me feel like an empress, and I was told to make my way up the stairwell to the front desk where the bellhop would bring my bags.
Climbing up the stairwell, glistening marble, wood, and metal surrounded me on all sides. I tried to keep my composure, but I probably looked like a gawking schoolgirl staring in wide-eyed wonder at everything around me. As promised, the bellhop was waiting for me near the front desk, and I was quickly checked in for the night. We made our way to the elevators, and I appreciated his kindness and service. Even as we rounded the hallways to get to my room on the fifth floor, I found myself in awe over and over again at the sheer beauty and detail put into every part of this place. Crystal lamps… Glossy mirrors… Immaculately clean walkways… But that was only the beginning once we got to my room, and I was left to enjoy my incredible night.
The room was definitely the most lavish hotel room I had ever been in. The main sleeping area was small, but I was by myself, so that was fine. The soft white king bed more than made up for it. Looking out my window, I found an amazing view of the bustling Vancouver streets below. A long hallway lined with closets distanced me from the rest of the floor, so I was shielded from noise on the other side. Goodies upon goodies laid waiting for me in those closets, but I dare not even touch them for fear of earning extra charges. Except for the cookie; couldn’t resist that. The housekeeping staff put it out for me after I had left for an appointment and returned to find my bed turned down. I certainly was grateful that no extra charge was added for that. :p
Dining was nothing to sneeze at in this Forbes Five Star hotel, and after quickly changing, I made my way down to the lobby. First stop on my list? The 1927 Lobby Lounge. I felt like that mysterious, glamorous lady you see in the movies taking a seat at the bar, and I had a great time chatting with the two gentlemen who served me some delicious beer. They themselves were immigrants to Vancouver, and it was fun to hear how they had come to the city. Plus, I got to learn that it boasts some of the best sushi restaurants in Canada. Yum. 🙂
After I finished my beer, I took the elevator up to the Reflections Outdoor Restaurant and Lounge. The sun was just starting to set on the Vancouver skyline, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to enjoy this oasis tucked in a sea of skyscrapers. I took a seat in a comfy patio chair, and chose the Spicy Lamb Merguez for my meal. The hosts and the servers were all prompt and pleasant, and I began taking in the incredible ambiance around me. Couches and cushions everywhere… A running stream framed by glass flowing into an infinity pool… Lush tropical plants in just the right spots. And though it was the perfect temperature that night, there were plenty of heat lamps and blankets to make sure everyone felt cozy.
Then my food arrived. At first glance, it looked absolutely scrumptious. The lamb was cooked to perfection with the spicy heat and the Middle Eastern zaatar spices, and the chick pea ragout was the perfect conduit for me to dip my grilled country bread in. When things got too spicy, the coriander mint yogurt saved the day, and provided an interesting twist on the traditional lamb and mint combination. Stuffed and surrounded in such luxury, it would have been easy to fall asleep at that lounge.
Although I wanted to see it, the one venue I didn’t make it to was the Prohibition bar underneath the hotel. Housed in the old wine cellar, I was told it was definitely the place for a real 1930’s experience with live jazz music and everything. Unfortunately, I was so tired that evening, I had to pass on it and get some sleep. You’ll just have to go there and find out what it is like for yourself. 😉
The bed itself was so delicious, and I found myself definitely enjoying my sleep. But one of the most anticipated moments of my enchanted stay was just around the corner, so I couldn’t stay there forever. Waking at the crack of dawn, I made my way down to the entrance to the spa. Passing huge columns of marble, I could see my destination through the tiny spaces in between. Beyond the spa counter, I made my way around the winding corners until I made it to the change room. Prepped and ready to go, I stepped through the glass doors, and just marvelled at the sight.
The pool looked so amazing in the photos in that article, but seeing it in real life was phenomenal. Geometric lights along the floor shifted between colours, and wooden pool chairs under giant mirrors waited to cradle the day’s guests. Putting down my things on one of the chairs, I slipped into the cool, soothing water. It was just shortly after 6 AM, so I was the only one there. Swimming is a passion of mine, and I felt like a mermaid twisting and gliding through that pool. Plus, the Esther Williams swimsuit I was wearing didn’t hurt, either. 😉 As the time came that I had to go, I quietly left the pool and looked back on it, taking in the splendor I had just experienced. But that was not the only aquatic marvel I was about to meet.
Enter the shower. Yes—the shower. I ended up booking a wheelchair-accessible room unknowingly, and even though I didn’t need it for that reason, I really lucked out in the end. The quality of bathrooms is an important feature to me in hotel rooms, and I was awestruck by this massive space. To accommodate wheelchair access, the shower was set up with no tub barrier or glass walls, and the water came out of a plate in the ceiling. Add the luxurious marble tiling and chrome accents, and I could have been staying in the penthouse for all I knew.
I finished up in the shower and packed my things, and called the front desk for a bellhop to come up. Another awesome man brought the trolley, and before long, my account was settled, and I was off to make my journey eastward. I admit I was sad to say goodbye, but I knew I would never forget the wonderful people I had met at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, and the incredible experiences I had there.
Having said all that though, let’s be totally honest here. As amazing as the hotel was, there are some things you should be aware of if you’re going to stay there. First, you have to pay for the valet parking. That was an extra $42.00 including taxes and GST added to my bill. Second, if you are not watching, there are LOTS of little ways that the staff will try to “add” to your experience. I can’t tell how many times I wanted to scream, “No, I do NOT want a bottle of water while I wait for you to bring my car up, THANK YOU!!!” 😀 I don’t hold it against the staff though; that’s their job. Third, DO read the Guest Services book as soon as you get to your room, and do NOT use the WiFi in your room unless you are willing to pay for it. Unlike many other hotels, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia only offers free WiFi in designated spots in the building; mostly in the lobby. I heard mention of WiFi during the shpiel given to me when I checked in, but I am so glad I read the book before getting dinged with yet another charge. All in all, as I think back on my night at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, I can truly say it was a magical experience. If you get the opportunity to stay there—even for just one night—take it. Yes, you will pay for it, but you will certainly never forget it. For more information about the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, please visit their website at http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/hotel-georgia-vancouver.