Like many travelers, I have different expectations for work travel versus leisure travel. Work travel equals meeting expectations, predictable accommodation, proximity to meetings. Leisure travel equals value for dollar, location, proximity to transit, shared bath if it will save money. On occasion, work travel and leisure travel cross paths, like when I made my first visit to Vancouver.

My conference ended on a Friday, so I tacked on a couple of days of vacation to get to know the city I had long wanted to visit. I also took advantage of my friend G’s tour guide services. Fun fact: he makes cookies for new arrivals in Vancouver. I don’t know if that offer applies to all visitors, but it sure reflects well on the city.

A lot of the hotels in the downtown area are well-known chains, so I went further afield in my search and found a well-reviewed boutique hotel with out-of-this-world prices. The Victorian, housed in a building dating back to 1898, is located on the edge of Gastown, and well within walking distance to other neighbourhoods of interest. Vancouver is well-served by public transit, which makes going to must-see places a little further away (like Stanley Park) completely accessible.

Victorian Hotel Vancouver Canada

The building is older, and the shared-bath rooms are at the top of the building, up two flights of stairs. The rooms are a good size, with hot water radiators to take the chill off of a rainy Vancouver night. The shared bathroom facilities are modern and very clean. The shampoos are locally-made and environmentally safe – and effective. The beds, without exaggeration, are the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve ever experienced. Better than any 4-star hotel. Like clouds. I still think about them.

Victorian Hotel Vancouver
This bed doubles as a cloud.

All of those things are very nice, but the Victorian in my personal Accommodation Hall of Fame because of the suit of armour standing guard outside of my room. It made me feel terribly safe, for no good reason, but also gave rise to the possibility of haunting.

Hotels can be very predictable, which may be a good thing depending on the situation, but staying at the Victorian was special. I have yet to find something comparable for charm and value. I was there in March, where off-season rates prevail (approximately $60/night). [Update September 2015: room rates are still VERY reasonable, depending on your dates!]

Victorian Hotel Vancouver
In addition to the soap, I wanted to steal this.

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