When it comes to visiting Canada, Vancouver is a great place to start. There is so much to do and see in the capital of British Columbia that you could spend weeks exploring and STILL not see everything worth seeing. And that’s not even taking into account all the amazing places you can experience outside of the city with a car and a few hours to spare. You’ve only got a few days though, and I wrote this guide to the best places to stay in Vancouver, BC to ensure you get the most out of your stay.
Vancouver, like Seattle, is one of the most beautiful cities in North America with it’s sleek and modern downtown juxtaposed with the rocky mountain peaks that serve as the city’s picturesque backdrop. And the FOOD. Farm-to-table culture in Vancouver has created a thriving food scene, with restaurants and food trucks using the bounty of fresh local ingredients, wine, and cider sourced from the nearby Okanagan Valley.
The outdoor spaces are the true star of the city though, with gardens, parks, and outdoor areas to explore around every corner. The best, of course, is Stanley Park which offers 1,000+ acres of forest and gardens, an aquarium, and First Nation totem poles. Rent a bike to explore the park and cycle along the seafront promenade.
Vancouver is a must-see destination in the Pacific Northwest, and we have plenty of thoughts for you on what to do and where to stay in Vancouver. Read on for my personal recommendations on the best places to stay, cafes, bars, and things to do while visiting this beautiful Pacific Northwest gem.
Pssst! Are you planning a trip to Vancouver? Don’t miss our guide to planning a perfect weekend in Vancouver, BC, with everything you need to know about visiting British Columbia’s capital.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, I would never recommend something to you that I don’t stand behind 100%.
A Guide to the Choosing Where to Stay in Vancouver For Your Trip
Below, you’ll find the three best areas to stay in Vancouver BC, along with some things to do in the neighborhood, and specific recommendations on where to stay.
One quick note before we get to the good stuff – Downtown Vancouver is split into a bunch of sub-neighborhoods that each have a unique vibe, so saying “stay in Downtown Vancouver” doesn’t really help you find the perfect place to stay for your tastes. In order to do that, you have to go one level deeper, which is what I’m about to do.
There are two parts of the downtown corridor that make the list – read on to find out what the best areas to stay in Vancouver are.
Gastown: Best Overall Place to Stay in Vancouver
Gastown is the oldest part of Downtown Vancouver, with cobbled streets and a slightly gritty-yet-cool vibe. Buzzing with young professionals, there is a fantastic nightlife scene with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. My favorites are Nuba Gastown for Lebanese food, and the Irish Heather for happy hour and the friendly bartenders. A lot of them also offer happy hour specials so be sure to get in early and take advantage.
Since you’ll be close to the main strip downtown, you will find plenty of art galleries, museums, cafes, and shops, and the main train station is located here too. This is where to stay in Vancouver if you’re looking for a central home base to explore the city that also has a nice selection of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and more.
Gastown Neighborhood Highlights
- See the Steam Clock in action. An iconic landmark in Gastown and Vancouver (at least since the 1970’s when it was built), the steam clock emits steam every 15 minutes and marks every hour. For the best display head there at midday, we won’t give away exactly what it does, but it is not to be missed!
- Drink coffee with the locals. Gastown is known as the place to go in Vancouver to get the best coffee. Revolver is by far the favorite of locals and visitors alike, including me, but Nemesis is a close second!
- Admire the views. Head up to the Vancouver Look Out for spectacular 360-degree views across the city. On a clear day, there’s no better view in Vancouver. Your ticket lasts all day so I recommend going up during the day and then coming back at night to see the city all lit up.
- Learn more about Gastown from “Gassy” Jack. Another point of interest for people visiting Gastown is “Gassy” Jack’s” statue. This quarter was named after him and you can learn a lot about the history of Gastown from reading the plaque on the statue.
- WALK. Seriously, just walk around. Wander through the alleys. Stop in that shop for a coffee or to buy a cool looking flannel (do as the PNW’ers do, right?). There are endless things to do and see in this neighborhood, and it’s a great place to get lost.
- Where to eat in Gastown: Nuba – absolutely delicious Lebanese food in the heart of Gastown. We went here on New Year’s Eve on our last trip amidst a blizzard and were basically the only ones there. The staff were super friendly and helpful, and hung around to chat more than they probably would on a busy night (TONS of gf options). Flying Pig is kinda like farm to table ish, using fresh local ingredients to create a menu reminiscent of the family feasts you had growing up (not a great GF option).
- Where to drink in Gastown: If wine and cheese sound like something you’re interested in, definitely head to Salt Tasting Room. Savor the local wine, cheese, and charcuterie with build-your-own tasting flights and cheese plates. My wife’s favorite spot that we accidentally discovered in a back alley in Gastown. Irish Heather has a great cider selection (try Left Field Cider), and a fully stocked bar with friendly bartenders and well-poured Guinness, according to my brothers.
Best Places to Stay in Gastown
Gastown is a relatively small area, and there aren’t too many places to stay in it. Particularly when it comes to hotels – you’ll only have a few choices.
But want to know what it does have? Industrial-chic exposed-brick lofts. TONS OF THEM.
In Gastown, Airbnb is king. We’ve stayed in this unique loft right in the middle of Gastown, and it was fantastic.
Here are some places to stay in Gastown that you’re going to love.
Our Recommendation: Trendy Loft in Gastown
Located in the heart of Gastown, this 1906 warehouse conversion is an amazing place to stay while exploring Vancouver. In fact, we stayed here on our last trip over New Years Eve, and it was the perfect location. With exposed brick and wooden beams, it mixes the old with eclectic, trendy furnishings to create a truly unique space. The 16-foot ceilings and open concept has the spacious and airy feeling of a flat. This is a perfect choice for couples, who will have it all to themselves, including a deep soak tub to relax in at the end of the day. A fully equipped kitchen is at your disposal, and there is even a BBQ in the shared courtyard.
Affordable Hotel in Great Location: Victorian Hotel
The Victorian Hotel is a boutique option in Gastown located in a former Victorian townhouse dating back to 1898. There are only 47 rooms, each tastefully decorated with Victorian era furniture and the original hardwood floors. Some of the rooms have private bathrooms, while others have shared bathrooms, which makes it the perfect place to stay for all budgets and styles. Just make sure to pay a little extra attention when booking to select the right option for your preferences. The onsite restaurant, Autostrada Osteria, is Italian inspired and set up to look like a small Italian café. This hotel is located a few minutes away from the Steam Clock on foot, and only 4 blocks from the Waterfront Skytrain.
Most Unique Hotel in Gastown: Skwachays Lodge
The rustic-but-modern Skwachàys Lodge only has 18 rooms, each decorated by indigenous artists from the Pacific Coast. Each of the rooms is its own art installation, with no two rooms decorated the same, which is a super cool feature. Many of the works contain images of eagles, bears, and other natural elements celebrating the spectacular natural beauty in British Columbia. The hotel is a strong supporter of Indigenous artists, musicians, and actors and runs gallery spaces and events to showcase the local talent. In terms of location the Skwachàys Lodge is perfect for exploring the city. It is just around the corner from the filming sites of a few famous films and tv shows.
Yaletown – Where to Stay in Vancouver for Families
Yaletown is the upmarket neighborhood of Downtown Vancouver. Here you will find chic boutiques, upmarket hotels, trendy restaurants and cafes, and more yoga classes and green juice than you could possibly dream of. This is the best area for celebrity spotting, and also the best area to stay if you appreciate art as there are plenty of galleries to explore. It’s also a great area for families – it’s safe, central, and walkable. We stayed in Yaletown on our first trip to Vancouver together for Alysha’s birthday, and it was a solid home base for exploring the city.
Looking at this beautiful neighborhood today, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that it used to be an industrial district. Yaletown is where to stay in Vancouver for those who like a little peace and quiet and a hint of luxury, but still want to be as central as possible.
Yaletown has tons of bars, restaurants, and is home to the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Major League Soccer team in the city. Here are some neighborhood highlights.
- Indulge your inner child at Engine 374 Pavilion. See the famous Engine 374, the first trans-continental train to arrive in Vancouver, and learn about the rail history of the city. There are volunteers around to answer any questions and teach you all about the train and its history. Entry is free all year round.
- Look out for celebs at Opus Bar. Located in the Opus Hotel, the Opus Bar is a definite hotspot in Yaletown. It has an extensive list of classic and signature cocktails as well as snacks available until 11pm. Happy hour is 3-6pm so come early to snag a seat.
- Admire the art at the Jennifer Kostuik Gallery. An internationally recognized gallery, the Jennifer Kostiuk Gallery exhibits work from local and international artists. You will find Native American art beside work from Australia, and even custom-made pieces here. Yaletown is full of little art galleries but if you only have time to visit one, make it this one.
- Walk, cycle, or skate along Vancouver Seawall. It is 22km of footpath running around the Vancouver waterfront with a separate section for cyclists and pedestrians. Popular with local fitness enthusiast, you are sure to pass joggers or cyclists out for a bit of exercise. The seawall is a great way to get between neighborhoods and take in the views over the water at the same time.
Where to Stay in Yaletown
Yaletown is a good spot for both hotels and Airbnbs, unlike Gastown which is heavily skewed towards the latter. Here are three great options for your stay in Yaletown.
Samesun Vancouver: Affordable Hostel Near Yaletown
Samesun Hostel is all about location. It is right on the northwestern edge of Yaletown, super close to downtown Vancouver. It has a mixture of 4, 6, and 8 bed dorms, and each room configuration has a females-only option. It also has private rooms with a choice of ensuite or shared bathroom. Breakfast is included in all of the rates and there is a shared kitchen, and laundry onsite if Vancouver is part of a larger trip. The best part about this hostel though is the activities held at the Beaver Bar. They host everything from sports trivia to bingo to allow guests to meet new people. The staff are incredibly helpful too and will offer recommendations for places to eat and things to do and can help organize activities or bike rental for guests.
Boutique Hotel for a Taste of Luxury: Opus Vancouver
The Opus Hotel, which is RIGHT in the middle of all the action in Yaletown, is a top-rated place to stay for many people visiting Vancouver. Not only is it just a few minutes away from the Seawall and the network of walking trails, but the interior of the hotel is a destination within itself. The hotel favors bold design with bright colors, eye catching prints, and gorgeous artwork to top it off, and self-describes itself as a destination for fashionistas. No matter what room type you book there are luxurious touches such as down bedding and Malin & Goetez bath products. Some room types go a step further with heated bathroom tiles, deep soaker tubs, and fireplaces.
While staying here be sure to check out the Opus Bar where spotting celebrities is a real possibility. Celebrities who love this bar include Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Ben Affleck. This is the best place to stay in Vancouver for people who enjoy a taste of luxury.
Highly Rated Hotel with a Kitchen: Rosedale On Robson
The Rosedale on Robson is an all-suite hotel offering 1 or 2 bedroom suites, each with kitchenettes. Each room has floor to ceiling windows, small sections of which open to let in the sea breeze, and a separate bedrooms and living room to give a space to chill out when you’re not exploring. Some even have a small terrace to relax on! In other words, it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re traveling with family.
The kitchen is fully equipped to allow guests to cook entire meals there if they wish. The breakfast offered by the hotel is quite extensive though. Onsite is an indoor pool, and a small garden to make guests’ stays comfortable.
Airbnb in Yaletown
There are a bunch of Airbnb options in Yaletown. Here are three that caught my eye as I was paging through them.
Sparkling Modern Yaletown Condo w/ Secure Parking (2 Bedrooms / 1 Bathroom)
Wonderful View, Patio & Parking in Prime Location (2 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms)
High Rise Yaletown Condo with City and Park Views (1 bedroom / 1 bathroom)
One Bedroom Apartment Within Downtown Vancouver (1 Bedroom / 1 Bathroom)
West End: Central, Quiet, and Hip Area Near Stanley Park
Vancouver’s West End is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon.
It is a great place to rent a bike on a warm summer day to explore the beaches and parks. It is a funky neighborhood, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Vancouver, with quaint bars and cafes lining its streets. While there are things to do all year round, West End is at its best in the summer with the beaches within walking distance becoming more of a focus.
For those who want to know where to stay in Vancouver for a more laid back vibe, West End is the answer!
Proximity to Stanley Park is the main draw of this area, but I think that the stretches along Robson and Denman are some of the best places to eat and drink in Vancouver.
- Try out the flavors at Marble Slab. One of the most famous places to get ice cream in Vancouver due to their experimentation with flavors. Think candy floss, pumpkin cheesecake, and key lime pie along with tons of others.
- Soak up the romance at Sunset Beach. This long sandy beach is a great place to wander regardless of the season. As the name implies, sunsets are amazing here, so find one of the beachside bars to grab a drink and watch the sun set with that special someone.
- Explore Stanley Park. Cycle or wander through this amazing green space in the heart of Vancouver. Make sure you walk alongside the water, see the totem poles, and visit the gardens and the Lost Lagoon. The Lost Lagoon is a great place to see wildlife, including beavers if you’re lucky.
- Grab a drink or seven. Denman Street and Davie Street have a concentration of fantastic bars. From fun cocktail bars, to laid back craft beer bars, there is something for everyone. Happy hour is king so head out a bit early for some great priced drinks. If you get hungry, there are some amazing ramen spots along Denman Street.
Where to Stay in West End
The nice thing about the West End is that there are a range of places to stay from super affordable, to super nice.
Airbnb in the West End
When given the choice, we almost always choose an Airbnb over a hotel unless it’s for a short stay – watch out for that cleaning fee, which sometimes makes it more expensive to stay in an Airbnb for one night – or we need a more flexible check-in. Like if you fly from the US to Europe on a red eye and don’t want to lug your bags around all day.
Anyway, the point is that the West End has a range of Airbnb options, but most are more affordable than the ones in Gastown and Yaletown, and less on the “luxury” end of the spectrum.
Here are three to consider:
For groups / families: 2-Story Townhouse w/ Perfect Location (2 bedrooms / 1.5 bathrooms)
For couples: Bright, Relaxed Apartment Overlooking Stanley Park (1 bedroom / 1 bathroom)
The Listel Hotel
The Listel Hotel describes itself as a culture lover’s paradise and honestly, it’s pretty easy to see why. This boutique hotel is packed with original and limited edition artwork. A mixture of paintings, prints, and sculptures adorn the public spaces and rooms of this hotel. The floors are themed with the self-explanatory Modern Art Floor, the Museum floor displaying British Columbia artifacts, The Gallery floors displaying original and limited edition works, and the Artist Series Suites focusing on particular artists or movements.
B&B: English Bay Inn
Offering just 6 rooms, this quaint little B&B is a must stay for people wanting a more personal experience in Vancouver. The General Manager, Alberto, is very hands on in ensuring his guests have an enjoyable stay. Rooms 1-5 are in the adults only B&B section and include breakfast for up to 2 adults. Note: Room number 6 is renovated for families and doesn’t include breakfast in the rate. In terms of location this B&B is a few minutes away on foot from some extraordinary beaches and nightlife. Yaletown is only a 15 minute walk along the Sea Wall.
Top-rated Hostel in Vancouver: HI Hostel Downtown Vancouver
Located just off of the south end of Thurlow Street, a few blocks from Vancouver’s main drag, this hostel offers a lot of facilities and activities for the price. Along with a huge kitchen for guests to cook lunch and dinner in, there is a free breakfast every morning offering all the continental favorites. There is also a deck with tables and chairs, and loungers to relax with a good book or a cup of tea. The hostel offers tours to Stanley Park or Lynn Valley so you can explore more than just the city. It is located one block from Davie Street, stumbling distance home after a night out. But if you want to stay in there is an onsite bar with pool and foosball tables.
Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Stay in Vancouver, BC
The Pacific Northwest is amazing, and I fully believe you’ll agree when you visit for yourself. There’s something magical about walking around the downtown area of a major city, turning around, and being treated to stunning mountain views.
Headed to Vancouver? Don’t miss our other Canada Travel Guides:
- How to Plan a Perfect Weekend in Vancouver
- The Best Weekend Getaways from Vancouver, BC
- A Complete Vancouver Island Road Trip Itinerary
- An Unforgettable Canadian Rockies Road Trip
- 3 Days in Banff, Alberta
Here is my guide to Gluten Free Vancouver, BC, with all the best gluten free eats so that you can eat your way through the city on your trip.