Get Out and Go: Vancouver the International Affair

The panoply of languages, diversity of cultures, and stylishness of its inhabitants give Vancouver it’s vibrantly unique personality. People from all over the world and all walks of life share the busy downtown sidewalks in this cosmopolitan city.

Seattle and Vancouver may seem similar on the surface, both are rainy, waterfront, and surrounded by mountains, however, visitors will notice the stark differences of the international city to the north. For Seattleites looking for a sophisticated weekend away, putting the passport to use and venturing to Vancouver gives just the needed escape from the grunge.

While Vancouver is close to the same size as Seattle, in Vancouver the advanced public transit, connectivity of the neighborhoods, and the urban density makes the entire city buzz at a higher frequency. The 2010 Winter Olympics put Vancouver in the international spotlight drawing more tourists, business and media attention to the city. The city is a global fusion with immigrants from all over the world maintaining cultural practices, opening restaurants and keeping it in a constant state of anticipation for the next best thing.

A morning perusing Granville Island’s produce and goodies, an afternoon spent around Stanley park and an evening filled with hockey make for a breezy day in the city. Seattleites may not fully comprehend the meaning of “hockey” but with any luck we will soon have our own NHL team. Don Cherry and hockey night in Canada is the main event for most winter weekends and if you find yourself in Vancouver for a Saturday night Canucks game the best thing to do is find a pub, stake out a seat hours before the game, and enjoy watching Canadians in their native habitat. Be prepared to listen to Canadians re-tell the story of how they beat the United States in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games, it’s par for the course.

Stay in 1920s Class: The Rosewood Hotel Georgia

First opened in roaring twenties in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Hotel Georgia came to be known as the city’s most elegant retreat. The edifice of grace, luxury and refinement welcomed the who’s who of the entertainment world to British Columbia, including Elvis Presley, Nat “King” Cole, Katharine Hepburn and British royalty.

Following a renovation that spared no expense and focused on creating the original authentic experience, this legendary boutique hotel unveiled in 2011 as Rosewood Hotel Georgia. The rooms are  spacious with lavish beds and surroundings.

The heated bathroom floor will warm your toes and the silent gliding bathroom door will not disturb sleepers. Leave your glasses laying out before turn down service and you just may find them neatly arranged on a small towel with glasses cleaner nicely positioned next to it, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia pays close attention to the details creating the most relaxing and indulgent weekend away.

With the largest private art collection of Canadian artists in the country, the lobbies, hallways, bars and restaurants are adorned with art that stretches the imagination.

The style and allure of the main lobby with chandeliers, original marbled flooring and ornately  decorated molding capture the decadence of the twenties. If those lobby floors could talk they’d share the stories of elegant parties and gossip of the guests in the past. The detailed and authentic renovation and grand re-opening gives the Rosewood Hotel Georgia and its guests plenty more years to write new stories.

Dine in Artistry: Hawksworth Restaurant

This street level restaurant has windows that look out towards the Vancouver Art Gallery, an appropriate reflection as inside Hawksworth Restaurant it feels as if you are in a gallery while guiltlessly indulging in Chef David Hawksworth’s culinary originality. A native to Vancouver, David spent a decade in Michelin-starred kitchens in Europe, returning to Vancouver to share his talent. With his focus on  contemporary Canadian cuisine, using his refined talent, a deep appreciation for local ingredients and the highest standards, it’s not surprising that the award winning chef has been named Vancouver’s Chef of the Year.

Hawksworth Restaurant feels like being inside the creative dream of an artist. The four rooms, the leather-paneled Bar and Lounge, the glamorous Pearl Room, the Art Room and the York Room each offering a different dinning experience. Each room has been carefully designed with art that helps set the mood. In the Art Room, for example, British Columbia artist Rodney Graham’s “Psychomania Variation III” (inspired by the British zombie movie of the same name) sets the high energy tone of contemporary chic. The York Room, the restaurant’s  private dining room, is inspired by the 1920s with sparkling chandeliers and opulent trimmings, transporting it’s visitors back in time to the dazzling era.

A Night on the Town: Gastown

The downtown eastside has a dark and seedy history but the efforts of several businesses moving in have begun to transform it into a cultural core with restaurants, nightlife and cocktail lounges. Travel down  historical Blood Alley, where local lore goes that the alley was named for either the spilled blood of butcher shops who lined the block in the early 1900s or for the  muggings, murders and robberies that were then commonplace.

Now Blood Alley is home to a few local gems, hidden out of sight of casual tourists creating spaces that feel intimate and secret. The servers at Salt Tasting Room know the most interesting combinations of wine, cheese, and charcuterie pairings that open up new taste buds and create a full experience. Judas Goat has tapas for lighter fare and a house made sangria that tastes like southern Spain. Cap the night off at the Clough Club, a gritty and dark lounge with enticing craft cocktails that capture the spirit of Gastown.