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Review: Shangri-La Vancouver | Prince of Travel

I booked a luxurious staycation at the Shangri-La Vancouver on New Year’s Eve 2022. This iconic property was the very first Shangri-La to open in Canada, and one that had caught my eye on numerous occasions since moving to the West Coast.

My initial introduction to the Shangri-La brand was at the Toronto location, and I was looking forward to seeing how the Shangri-La Vancouver measured up.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Booking

Regular cash rates at this property tend to be steep, falling anywhere between $400–600 (CAD) per night.

In my case, I paid the Shangri-La Luxury Circle rate of $605 (CAD) plus taxes, which was definitely on the higher end for this New Year’s Eve stay, but came with a host of perks.

(Note that Shangri-La also operates the Shangri-La Circle loyalty program, though it isn’t easy to earn points without staying at Shangri-La properties a lot.)

For booking via Luxury Circle, I was treated to a $100 (USD) property credit, a room upgrade upon booking, early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability), and breakfast for two at Carlino Restaurant or via in-room dining.

To help bring down the cost, I also stacked my booking with the Shangri-La Amex Offer, which offers 20% back as a statement credit on purchases of up to $750 (CAD).

In my case, this brought down the cost of the stay by around $120 (CAD), and when paired with the $100 (USD) property credit, added a pleasant amount of extra value to my booking.

To unlock these same benefits at this property, it’s definitely worth considering booking your stay through Shangri-La’s preferred partner program, Shangri-La Luxury Circle.

By booking through Shangri-La Luxury Circle with an authorized travel advisor, you can enjoy the same elite-level benefits without having to work your way up to elite status in the Shangri-La Circle loyalty program.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Location

The Shangri-La Vancouver sits at Thurlow & West Georgia, in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. The hotel occupies the first 15 floors of a modern mixed-use skyscraper, which happens to be the tallest building in the city.

Upscale shops, restaurants, and cafés are just steps from the hotel’s doorsteps, whilst most downtown attractions are within easy walking distance.

The back entrance of the Shangri-La sits on Alberni Street, one of the city’s swankiest shopping areas. Additionally, Vancouver’s other two shopping meccas, Robson Street and the CF Pacific Centre, are less than a 15-minute southeasterly stroll from the hotel.

Heading in the opposite direction for 15 minutes is Stanley Park and the Cole Harbour Seawall. Moreover, historic Gastown can be reached within the same timeframe.

Canada Place and the SeaBus are a breezy 10-minute walk North of the Shangri-La. From here, you can venture over to North Vancouver, home to iconic attractions such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain.

The Burrard SkyTrain Station and Vancouver City Centre SkyTrain Station are both around five minutes from the hotel by foot.

If you’re heading to the Shangri-La from Vancouver International Airport, it’s about a 35-minute Skytrain ride on the Canada Line to Vancouver City Centre Station. If you’re travelling by car, it’ll take roughly the same amount of time, depending on traffic.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Check-in

The Shangri-La Vancouver has two entrances: a pedestrian entrance at ground level off George Street and a vehicle entrance accessible from the back of the hotel on Alberni Street.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Exterior
Shangri-La Vancouver – Pedestrian entrance
Shangri-La Vancouver – Pedestrian entrance

The vehicle entrance continues underground, a level leading to a covered porte-cochère with an exposed open-air atrium.

Natural elements, such as rain, snow, and sun, filter down, brightening up an otherwise dark entrance. Adjacent is an elevator connecting both levels for pedestrian access.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Vehicle entrance
Shangri-La Vancouver – Vehicle entrance
Shangri-La Vancouver – Entrance

Arriving at the hotel via the vehicle entrance, we were immediately greeted by the hotel staff and escorted to the check-in desk in the  lower lobby.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Check-in desk

The lower-level lobby is intimate, with a single seating area, tasteful Asian-inspired décor, and complimentary hot apple cider during the winter season.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Lower lobby lounge
Shangri-La Vancouver – Lower lobby lounge

My initial booking included an upgrade to a Deluxe Room, but upon check-in, the associate informed me I had been further upgraded to an Executive Balcony King Room.

Our Luxury Circle benefits were then acknowledged and confirmed, and check-in was swiftly completed.

As we made our way toward the elevators, I was greeted by the elegant floral wallpaper adorning the right-hand side of the elevator lobby.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Hallway

The ground-level lobby has an elongated L-shape and is in keeping with the lower-level lobby, adorned with marble-clad floors and walls, delicate glass chandeliers, and Eastern décor.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Ground-level lobby lounge
Shangri-La Vancouver – Ground-floor lobby lounge

To the left is a cluster of leather couches and armchairs, making up small seating areas. Nestled at the rear of the lobby are a sophisticated fireplace and a secondary apple cider station.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Seating area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Fireplace
Shangri-La Vancouver – Apple cider station

Turning the right-hand corner, there’s a handmade Fazioli piano and direct access to a Rolex boutique.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Ground-level lobby lounge
Shangri-La Vancouver – Fazioli piano

My first impression of the Shangri-La Vancouver? The property certainly felt more intimate and boutique than the grandiosity that I would’ve expected of a Shangri-La, especially when compared to its Toronto counterpart.

Feeling intrigued, we headed up to Room 1505 on the 15th floor to discover our living quarters for the night.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Room 1505

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room

Entering the Executive Balcony King Room, a wide foyer transitions into an open-concept bedroom with a living area, which consists of a grey upholstered couch, coffee table, and armchair.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room foyer
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room living area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room living area

Thoughtfully placed on the coffee table was a bottle of Moët & Chandon Champagne, waiting for us as our Luxury Circle welcome amenity.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room welcome gift
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room Moët & Chandon welcome gift

The interior design is dominated by beige hues, rich dark wooden accents, and subtle Eastern-inspired embellishments.

Positioned by the windows is a dark wooden desk accompanied by a supportive ergonomic chair. 

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room ergonomic chair & desk

An ultra-comfortable king bed is tucked into the left-hand corner, and a flat-screen TV sits atop a small armoire on the opposite wall.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room bed
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room bed

Back at the entrance of the room, a pantry is home to a Nespresso and minibar, stocked with Flow boxed water and packaged snacks.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room room entrance
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room minibar
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room pantry

Adjacent to the foyer, the bathroom boasts a stunning design, with walls and floors swathed in elegant white marble.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room bathroom

The bathroom features a single vanity with a luxurious granite countertop, a spacious walk-in shower enclosed behind glass doors, and a toilet that’s similarly enclosed by glass doors.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room vanity
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room shower
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room toilet

The large bathtub is optimally positioned by the windows, from which you can enjoy downtown views while soaking in the tub.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room bathtub

Taking the bathroom to the next level was a mirror-embedded TV and heated flooring, and direct access to the private terrace.

This Executive Balcony King Room was one of two layouts of this room category. This particular room has two smaller terraces accessible from the bedroom and bathroom, respectively.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room terrace

I had mixed impressions about the city views from the Shangri-La. While it’s nice to look at the streets and buildings from high up, there wasn’t much to speak of in terms of views of the water.

That’s one of the most attractive sights to seek out when picking a Vancouver hotel, and it’s an area in which the Shangri-La’s competitors might offer more of an advantage.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room terrace
Shangri-La Vancouver – Executive Balcony King Room terrace

The room was very much in keeping with the Shangri-La brand’s style, with notable Asian-themed décor. However, after over a decade after its opening in 2009, some signs of wear and tear are becoming visible.

Nevertheless, the king bed offered an elevated level of comfort – for example, the heated marble floors in the bathroom is a luxurious touch that you don’t find every day.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room

I also had a chance to tour a few other room types during my stay.

The Superior Room is the lowest room type, but still affords a generous amount of space for a base-level room. It’s well-appointed, with a plush bed (either one king or two twins), two armchairs, a desk, and a flat-screen TV.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room bedroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room ergonomic chair & desk
Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room armchairs & desk

The bathroom features a single vanity, a walk-in shower, and a bathtub.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room bathroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – Superior Twin Room bathtub & vanity

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe Twin Room

The Deluxe Room type, on the other hand, features a much larger layout than the Superior Room.

There’s a full seating area comprised of a couch, armchair, and coffee table facing a flat-screen TV. Additionally, a large desk and ergonomic chair are positioned by the windows.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe Twin room bedroom

The bathroom design follows that of the Superior Room, albeit with more square footage. The bathroom is also identical in terms of amenities, with a walk-in shower, bathtub, and single vanity.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe Twin room bathroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe Twin room bathtub

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite

Moving into the suites at the Shangri-La Vancouver, the One-Bedroom Suite features a bedroom, a separate living area, and a private balcony.

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite living area

The suite’s bedroom has a similar set-up as the Deluxe Room, furnished with a dedicated seating area and desk.

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite bedroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite desk

Sliding wood doors separate the living area, which plays host to a couch, armchair, and coffee table facing out towards the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite living area

A flat-screen TV is mounted to the left-hand wall, and then a secondary desk is positioned on the right-hand wall.

A spacious balcony is accessible from the living room, complete with a small table and set of chairs, looking out over the neighbouring high-rises.

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite balcony

The bathroom in this One-Bedroom Suite features a dual vanity, bathtub, and walk-in shower. Otherwise, the design and features are in keeping with the other room types.

Shangri-La Vancouver – One-Bedroom Suite bathroom

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite

The Deluxe One Bedroom Suite is the second-largest suite type and offers a larger separate living area and a smaller bedroom.

The living area is identical to the other room types; however, there’s a larger glass coffee table, and at the rear of the room is a desk and a large dining table with seating for four.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite living area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite living area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite desk & dining area

The bedroom is perhaps on the smaller side, with the king bed taking up most of the space and a smaller flat-screen TV tucked into the right-hand corner.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite bedroom

The bathroom is a generous size, with a dual vanity, spacious walk-in shower, and then a bathtub positioned by the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite bathroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite bathrobes & bathtub

Accessible from the living area is a wide private balcony that seats four with views of Georgia Street all the way to Stanley Park.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite balcony
Shangri-La Vancouver – Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite view

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite

The Orchid Suite is the largest suite type available at the Shangri-La Vancouver. The suite offers a spacious haven with an enormous living area, a separate bedroom, and a balcony.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite hallway
Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite balcony

The living room boasts a stylish white leather L-shaped couch and a much lighter white textured carpet than the other room types.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite living room

There’s a large dining area for seven and a fully equipped kitchen with a sink, oven, stovetop, and fridge with a private butler’s entrance.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite dining area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite dining area
Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite kitchen

The bedroom features a canopy king bed, armchair, desk, and flat-screen TV.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite bedroom

The marble-clad bathroom features a walk-in shower, dual vanity, a partitioned-off toilet, and a deep bathtub. Moreover, a walk-in closet is accessible at the far end.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite bathroom
Shangri-La Vancouver – Orchid Suite vanity

As far as presidential suites in Vancouver go, the Shangri-La’s Orchid Suite is certainly a premier choice, especially for those who prefer a warm, residential feel to their mega-sized living quarters. 

On the whole, the guest rooms at the Shangri-La Vancouver offer a fair bit of consistency in terms of their design, and are quite well-maintained given that the hotel is approaching 15 years old. 

While the base-level rooms don’t have a terrace or balcony, they still offer expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with city views. Moreover, they’re quite generously sized, and would indeed serve as a comfortable and functional place to call home for the night or for a longer stay.

If you’re not one to spend too much time in your room and don’t mind sacrificing some of the frills of a more luxurious room, these base-level rooms would be more than sufficient.

On the other hand, the suites are ideal for those with families who can benefit from the extra room, or for larger groups seeking greater comfort with a more spacious setting.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Breakfast

In the morning, we headed down to Carlino, where our Luxury Circle rate included breakfast for two.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino entrance

Carlino is a relatively new restaurant, introduced to the Shangri-La Vancouver in 2021. The restaurant has an Italian flair with checkered floors, leather benches, an olive tree, and flora rooted in Italian culture taking centre stage.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino seating
Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino seating
Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino bar

The restaurant serves a Northern Italian-inspired menu, using local produce from British Columbia’s small farmers and businesses. If breakfast is included in your rate, you’ll be able to choose any entrée, which comes with a coffee or tea and a juice of your choice. 

Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino breakfast menu

Our breakfast here was excellent. I went for the baked eggs, and to my delight, they were especially tasty. Furthermore, there was a live musician playing on New Year’s Day, which was an impressive touch.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino baked eggs
Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino breakfast
Shangri-La Vancouver – Carlino juice

Shangri-La Vancouver – Dining

It’s worth noting that Carlino is the only dining and bar venue at the Shangri-La Vancouver. This further reflects the hotel’s more boutique identity; however, if you’re looking for a hotel with a wide range of dining venues, you may wish to look elsewhere. 

In terms of service, the staff at Carlino are fantastic, with a warm, enthusiastic, and personable demeanour. Indeed, I’ve popped by for lunch here a few times, and the food and service have always been great.

To make use of our $100 property credit (USD), we ordered a steak and a chicken sandwich for dinner via room service. The steak was well-executed, whereas the chicken sandwich ultimately fell a bit short.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Room service chicken sandwich, chips, & steak
Shangri-La Vancouver – Room service steak
Shangri-La Vancouver – Room service chicken sandwich

Shangri-La Vancouver – Other Facilities

The Health Club is located on the fifth floor and operates 24/7. The fitness centre is well-equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and impressive views of Vancouver through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Fitness centre

There’s a wide range of cardio machines, free weights, specialized Kinesis Technogym machines, and a dedicated yoga and pilates studio.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Fitness centre
Shangri-La Vancouver – Fitness centre
Shangri-La Vancouver – Fitness centre

On the same floor is the Ginger Café, where you can choose from a selection of fresh smoothies and juices post-workout.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Ginger Café
Shangri-La Vancouver – Ginger Café

Chi, The Spa is a signature offering at the Shangri-La Vancouver, with treatments rooted in traditional and natural healing methods used in Asian cultures.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa entrance
Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa entrance

Upon entering, there’s a small reception area with water, light refreshments, and snacks.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa reception
Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa refreshments

The spa offers private treatment rooms with a private spa bath, fireplace, shower, and bathroom, and then there are separate dedicated massage and treatment rooms.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa massage rooms
Shangri-La Vancouver – Chi, The Spa treatment rooms

In the evening of our stay, we headed down to the outdoor pool and whirlpool for a dip. The pool is a modest size, with cabanas and loungers dotted along the far end.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Outdoor pool
Shangri-La Vancouver – Outdoor pool evening view

The highlight here is the view of the bustling city below, which serves as a stimulating backdrop while swimming a few laps or relaxing in the whirlpool.

Shangri-La Vancouver – Outdoor pool view

Conclusion

My second rendezvous with the Shangri-La brand made for a memorable New Year’s Eve staycation. The Vancouver property boasts a more intimate, boutique approach compared to the dramatic grandeur of the Shangri-La Toronto.

The hotel’s public spaces are understated, yet embodied the sophisticated luxury and Asian influences inherent to Shangri-La hotels. Other highlights include the central Downtown location and the high-quality dining at Carlino, which holds its own as the hotel’s sole dining venue. 

The Executive Balcony King Room was well-appointed, with a very comfortable king-sized bed and luxurious amenities such as heated flooring.

However, the lack of water views may be a detracting factor, and I also found that the bedrooms and living areas could benefit from a refresh to better align with the opulence of the marble-clad bathrooms.

On balance, I’d say that the Shangri-La serves as a very attractive place to stay in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, albeit with a surprising boutique feel that perhaps limits the hotel in some ways just as much as it sets it apart in others. 



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