As a cosmopolitan city surrounded by glittering ocean and towering mountains, Vancouver has a lot to offer visitors. From the pleasant hiking trails of Stanley Park to the bustling market of Granville Island to the accessible wilderness of North Vancouver, chances are good that whatever you like to do, you can find it here. It's this versatility that has seen Vancouver designated one of the best cities in the world to live in year after year. And it doesn't hurt that it's also very easy to figure out how to get around Vancouver, too.
But all this beauty comes at a price. Staying in Vancouver isn't cheap, and if you want a luxury hotel within walking distance of the attractions of the city center, you can expect to pay handsomely for the privilege. On the other hand, Vancouver is a city of diverse neighborhoods that each offer something different. If you look around a little and are willing to get out of downtown, you'll not only find some relative bargains for hotels, but you'll also discover different sides to this ever-evolving city.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Vancouver, and you'll be perfectly primed to explore the fascinating neighborhoods of the city. Traveling light makes it easier to get out and explore, knowing your things will be safely looked after while you're away.
Where to stay in downtown Vancouver
For some people, downtown is the only place to stay when visiting a new city. And there are good reasons for that. The downtown core of Vancouver is home to the highest concentration of hotels, from luxury hotels to budget options. And as well as having some of the best hotels, downtown Vancouver also has the lion's share of the city's tourist attractions, such as Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Harbour, and Robson Street, which offers Vancouver's glitziest shopping district. When visiting Vancouver, downtown makes a tempting place to stay.
If you're looking for unmissable things to do at night in Vancouver, the downtown area offers Granville Street, the city's main entertainment district. Outside of downtown proper but well within walking distance, you'll also find Gastown, an old neighborhood of cobblestone streets that's home to the famous steam clock along with boutique shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Downtown Vancouver also includes Coal Harbour and Canada Place, which is where the many cruise ships that visit the city dock. If you're in town for a convention at Canada Place, it makes sense to stay in this area.
Many of Vancouver's top attractions that lie outside of downtown can also be easily reached from there since it is the hub of the city's public transit network. A short bus ride will bring you to Stanley Park and Vancouver Aquarium, and you could take another bus over the Granville Street Bridge or catch the False Creek Ferry to visit Granville Island and its incredible seafood restaurants. If you're a night owl who wants endless options for bars and restaurants, downtown is the place to stay.
Of course, in some ways, downtown is a victim of its own popularity. You'll pay more to stay in this part of the city than you will anywhere else. Plus, being in such a touristed area makes it hard to escape the crowds. If you want lively nightlife and busy shopping streets, that won't be a problem. But if you prefer to get some peace and quiet on your trip, downtown may not be the best place to find it.
Where to stay in the West End
Don't let the names fool you. Vancouver's West End neighborhood is not the same as the Westside, and is different again from West Vancouver, which is a completely different municipality on the North Shore. The West End borders downtown Vancouver, stretching from Burrard Street all the way to Stanley Park. Depending on how much walking you like to do, the West End could be considered within walking distance of all the attractions of downtown Vancouver. But this village within the city offers its own unique vibe and atmosphere that makes it a popular place to stay and to live.
Vancouver's West End contains the city's gay village of Davie Street, which you'll recognize immediately from its pink bus shelters and rainbow-painted crosswalks. This is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year, full of lively bars and restaurants along with quaint coffee shops, but it really comes to life during the summer Pride season. The West End is also home to Denman Street, a busy commercial corridor that runs roughly north-south and has a wide range of restaurants and shops to choose from. This neighborhood is also bordered by the ocean, and it contains English Bay Beach, one of Vancouver's biggest and most popular beaches. It also contains portions of the seawall that stretches around Stanley Park and functions as the city's open-air living room, making it a fantastic place to see and be seen. As the nearest neighborhood to Stanley Park, the West End also offers something that would be impossible to find in most other cities around the world: a centrally located neighborhood close to all the major attractions that also offers tons of hiking trails and a chance to reconnect with nature. Whether you prefer to sit on the beach and see one of the glorious sunsets English Bay is known for or hike a leafy trail through the forest, you can do it all in the West End.
Despite its obvious appeal, the West End hasn't capitalized on tourism in the same way as downtown Vancouver has. While you will find hotels here, they tend to be a little more relaxed than the multinational names you'll find downtown. This is a great neighborhood to stay in a boutique hotel or guesthouse or even a short-term holiday rental. You may not get all the fancy amenities you'll find in a hotel in the downtown core like an indoor pool or an on-site fitness center, but you will benefit from a great location and the charm of living like a local in a real and unique neighborhood of the city.
The Best Western offers a decent mid-range hotel option in this area, while Barclay House offers a boutique hotel in a beautifully restored period home in the area. Alternatively, if you want to stay in a true icon of the city, the Sylvia Hotel is located right on English Bay Beach, and this Victorian hotel in a heritage building will take you back in time to the very earliest days of Vancouver.
Where to stay in Kitsilano
Kitsilano is a little off the beaten trail for most tourists visiting Vancouver. But the tree-lined residential streets and easy access to the beaches make this one of the most desirable areas in the city to live in, and it's not a bad place for a short-term stay either. Kitsilano lies to the south of downtown Vancouver across False Creek, and it contains some notable tourist attractions like Sunset Beach and the upscale shopping street of West 4th Avenue, where you'll find quirky boutique shops and tons of great restaurants. If you're looking for the best brunch in Vancouver, chances are good you'll find it along West 4th Ave.
Located in the western part of the city, Kitsilano is also close to the University of British Columbia and Pacific Spirit Regional Park. That's where you'll find the city's beloved nudist beach, Wreck Beach. And the University campus is home to some of the main attractions in the city, such as the Museum of Anthropology and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Granville Island is also within walking distance of much of Kitsilano.
Due to the presence of the local students, Kitsilano offers some vibrant nightlife options. But because this is a largely residential area, it also promises peace and quiet, with its tree-lined streets and numerous green spaces creating a relaxing atmosphere you wouldn't expect so close to the heart of the city. If you're wondering where to stay in Vancouver where you can live like a local but still enjoy the city's tourist attractions, this is a great option.
However, as a primarily residential area, your options for hotels in Kitsilano are limited. You won't find big chains here; the locals tend to resist any development that would spoil the character of the neighborhood. Instead, you're more likely to find a boutique hotel or guesthouse in a heritage home that will give you a glimpse into the life of a local.
Where to stay in East Vancouver
Speaking of living like a local, East Vancouver is where to stay in Vancouver if you're a fan of counterculture or you just want to experience a more authentic side of the city. East Vancouver stretches from Main Street all the way to the neighboring municipality of Burnaby, making it one of the city's biggest neighborhoods. It's also one of the more affordable parts of the city, though, in Vancouver, affordable is a relative term.
Most of this area is residential and decidedly more working-class than downtown or Kitsilano. However, it's not without its attractions. Although not technically in East Vancouver, the historic district of Gastown and its famous steam clock is very close and offers tons of bars and restaurants to explore. You'll also find Vancouver Police Museum and Chinatown in East Vancouver.
The western boundary of East Vancouver, Main Street, has become a great place to shop and dine in a variety of restaurants and unique stores, including the Vancouver flea market. Further to the east, you'll find the legendary Commercial Drive, an eclectic neighborhood of European-style cafés, art galleries, countercultural bookstores, vintage clothing boutiques, and lively bars. Well known to locals, Commercial Drive is the place where most tourists find themselves, but this neighborhood is well worth exploring to get a sense of the real Vancouver. Plus, its designated Skytrain station makes it easy to reach from Waterfront Station downtown.
This is a great place to stay for travelers on a budget. It's also an excellent place to explore if you want to see what real life is like for those who live in the city. But while East Vancouver is a great location for living like a local, it doesn't have the best hotels in the city. Most likely your choice will be between a mid-range hotel or a private guesthouse or rental apartment. On the plus side, you'll find prices much cheaper here than you would in downtown Vancouver.
Where to stay in Yaletown
Located on the same peninsula as downtown Vancouver, Yaletown sits just to the south of the downtown core and is one of Vancouver's coolest neighborhoods. Home to young professionals enjoying the highlife, Yaletown is where to stay in Vancouver if you want to be within walking distance of downtown attractions and also have great options for dining and entertainment. David Lam Park offers some much-needed green space in Yaletown, and False Creek along the south side of the neighborhood is a great place for a walk or an early morning run. Rest assured that in this image-conscious neighborhood, you won't be the only one.
Yaletown was once the warehouse district of Vancouver, but all those old buildings have been transformed into art galleries displaying the work of local and international artists and hip restaurants, making this a great location if you enjoy nightlife. You'll also find some excellent shopping in this area, especially if you don't mind spending some money. The neighborhood is within walking distance of downtown attractions like Robson Street and Vancouver Art Gallery, and it's only a short bus or ferry ride to Granville Island with its excellent food and theater scene. Plus, the neighborhood is served by a Skytrain station, making it easy to reach from Vancouver International Airport. Close to David Lam Park, you'll also find the Roundhouse Community Arts Center, which contains the first train that ever reached Vancouver and is a great venue for performing arts in the city. Plus, if you're in town for a sporting event, Yaletown is easily within walking distance of BC Place and Rogers Arena, the city's main sports arenas.
Yaletown is also home to some of the best hotels in Vancouver. If you're wondering where to stay in Vancouver where you can treat yourself to a luxury hotel with great amenities, try L'Hermitage with its swimming pool or OPUS, right next to the Skytrain station. Just remember that nothing in this neighborhood comes cheap. But if the price isn't a problem for you, you'll have a great time in this vibrant neighborhood.
The options for where to stay in Vancouver are varied enough to keep everyone happy. Whether you want to stay close to the renowned Stanley Park while you stay in Vancouver, be close to the action of Granville Island and the vibrant nightlife of the Granville Street entertainment district with a stay in downtown Vancouver, or prefer to enjoy Canada's West Coast by staying close to the Pacific Ocean beaches in Kitsilano, you'll be able to tailor your stay in Vancouver to your own preferences. Choosing the right neighborhood of the city to stay in can make all the difference to your trip, so choose carefully. And don't forget to drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage to make it easy to explore this British Columbia gem.