My friend Eileen of @misseileensoo fame has been itching for a vacation. Her winter was work heavy and she felt she was due for a little rest and respite. I had just received a clean bill of health from my brush with the ‘vid, and was hankering for some fun. Therefore this pre-organized staycation came just in time and was just what we both needed.
Seeing as it would be the first day of Chinese New Year the day before, we decide to tie the theme into our plans. And Shangri-La was the perfect hotel chain to stay with, considering its Asian influences. On CNY they even gave their guests elaborate red pockets in giftable boxes that resembled a tiger, due to 2022 being the year of the tiger in Chinese zodiac. This was a pocket for money, where if you pull the tiger’s tail he blinks. A box of 8 with 4 in red and 4 in gold. We inquired and were able to get our hands on a such a box. This would make for a great keepsake of our time spent. And this gesture, really spoke to the quality of service and attentiveness we would receive throughout our stay.
Check in was at 3pm, earlier than most establishments that list 4pm. For those driving, parking is available underground. Entry is the same place/space where you would park for The Keg and Urban Fare. The fee for an overnight park is $35 for hotel guests, with a 3pm deadline the next day. If you valet your vehicle, you pay $49 for the convenience, and the ability to leave your car in the parkade for longer.
Since we both drove, in we checked in at the basement’s front desk. There is another front desk on the lobby level, but is more for customer service concerns, and the clerk to be utilized as an information broker. The lobby is opulent with vaulted ceilings and a piano. A gold glowing crystal chandelier centres the room, drawing your eyes to their Chinese style, carved room separator; and the other Asian influences that surrounded it. A draping of Chinese calligraphy, banana palms, and ornamental miniature orange and red pocket plants set for the occasion.
Eileen was offered a room upgrade for $50 and was happy to accept. It was a larger room with living area that included couch and desk, with a better view of downtown Vancouver’s core. In actuality our room aligned with an office building filled with employees, customers, and people visiting the dentist. All of which could see us, because we could see them. As a result, the drapes stayed closed and we really didn’t get to enjoy the view for the sake of privacy. The room was also better draped in natural light, so we were additionally sad to have to draw the curtains and be left in the glow of a florescent yellow tinge, that aged the space greatly.
Worth noting is that did enjoy the room more than we would have, if it only fit beds. This spacious layout allowed us the ability to sprawl and interact with our surroundings more. So if staying-in, I would suggest bigger is better.
Almost as soon as we settled, we got a knock on the door and an attendant greeted us with a welcome croffin, a plastic wrapped pastry that was a cross between a croissant and a muffin. Something sweet to nibble on, while you read the hand written note of welcome and thanks from the hotel. The reception was truly appreciated.
Truth be told, we both clocked the most time in the washroom: it was a magical space. Almost the same size as the sleeping area, you could host guests within. A sink and vanity with plenty of table top space and fresh folded towels. The toilet was a separate frosted glass room, within the bath room. There was a standing stall shower with the most complicated facet set up I have ever navigated. It had a dial within a dial and turning it from cold to hot was not as you would expect it to be. It and its instructions forced you read and reflect.
The adjacent tub was a lot easier and more fun. It was one of those layouts where you can be in the tub, watching the other person shower like a show. That did not happen. Instead, we filled the full soaker, marble tub with suds courtesy of the complimentary miniature bottle of body wash, and took turns taking a soak. The toiletries are from L’Occitane, a premium skin care and beauty line. Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Perfume Soap, and Body Milk. We would request additional bottles as takeaways.
Other amenities included fresh brew coffee from a Nespresso pod and accompanying machine. To have one of these in each room is luxury and worth it for quality of coffee produced. This we would take full advantage of. Tea and sugar is also an option. But all the mini liquor bottles, cans of beer, mixed nuts, chips, and instant noodle cups come at a cost.
However, Shangri-la is so conveniently located in the hub of downtown. We had options for food, drink, and activities within walking distance. Or at least had the option of a cheap Lyft to take us where we wanted to go. We wanted to mark the occasion with bubbles, Eileen was peckish so ordered some room service, but I persuaded her to visit the liquor store half a block away instead, to be able to choose from a larger selection for less.
She ordered a cheese board that included brie, Gouda, and blue cheese accompanied by an assortment of fresh berries, nuts and dried fruit; plus slices of baguette to eat them with. This wasn’t out of the ordinary by any means, but it did serve as a necessary snack platter as we grazed throughout our stay.
As our night progressed we would pop our bottle and do our cheers, finishing it before gearing up for a dip in their roof top pool and hot tub. Your hotel room includes robes and slippers, which were the perfect footwear and covering for us to travel from our suite on the 12th floor to the spa on a lower floor. The pool is in the other direction of their in house Chi Spa. We entertained the idea of indulging in a massage or treatment, but found it a little pricier than what our personal budgets allowed. So a dip in the pool and a massage with hot tub jets were all we were getting. The former was a little too cold for me, and the latter we didn’t find hot enough. More like a luke warm tub.
The next day we would return to the hot tub in the same fashion. The experience is very different from night to day. Not just the lighting, but the feeling. At night the surrounding buildings are empty and you get a more luxurious and romantic vibe. Shame you can drink or order snacks to enjoy pool side. In the day you feel self conscious as all the surrounding business buildings are full of employees looking down at you in a bikini in winter, wondering why you aren’t at work too. We enjoyed both experiences, using the venue as the perfect perch for girl chat.
We would dine at Carlino’s, one of the two restaurants on Shangri-La’s property, no reservations were needed on a slower Wednesday, that and the restaurant usually holds tables for hotel guests as an added perk and courtesy. For the review, visit the link below: https://vieamaggi.com/uncategorized/carlino-restaurant/
When it was time to crawl underneath the fluffy comforter and be sandwiches by hotel quality crisp and clean sheets, we almost immediately passed out, being caressed in comfort. This was a luxury sleep. Although with any shift you could hear all the sheets crunch. I was concerned that it would wake Eileen, but she didn’t even flinch when I woke up mid-night to use the washroom and flush.
In short, Shangri-La is a great destination for a quickie retreat. Be pampered by their customer service, spoiled by their luxury suites, and enjoy the convenience of being situated so close to everything you would needed for a fun night downtown.
Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
1137 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A5