Review: Shangri-La Vancouver

Filed Under: Hotels, Travel

This past weekend I spent three nights in Vancouver with friends and tried out three different hotels. We spent the first night at the Hyatt Regency, the second night at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and the third night at the Shangri-La.

After an amazing stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim I figured there was no way that the Shangri-La could compete. Little did I know…

Booking the Shangri-La Vancouver

I booked the Shangri-La through Virtuoso, which comes with the following benefits:

  • Complimentary room upgrade subject to availability
  • Early check-in and late check-out subject to availability
  • $100 spa or food and beverage credit
  • Complimentary full breakfast for two

My friends booked Superior Rooms, at a rate of 225CAD for the night. Based on availability they’d then be upgraded to a Deluxe Room.

Meanwhile since it was my birthday and we had several bottles of champagne to consume in-room, I booked a One Bedroom Suite, at a rate of 380CAD for the night, which seemed like a reasonable premium. Based on availability I was hoping to be upgraded to a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite, which is just one level below their top Orchid Suite (which they don’t upgrade to).

Staying at the Shangri-La Vancouver

The Shangri-La is located just a couple of blocks from the Fairmont Pacific Rim, so it was a quick drive to the building itself. The problem was that we couldn’t initially find the driveway for the hotel, so due to the one-way street arrangements around the hotel, it took a couple of trips around the building before I “caught on.”

Shangri-La Vancouver exterior

Shangri-La Vancouver entrance

As it turns out the hotel’s driveway is actually located around the back of the hotel and is underground.

Shangri-La Vancouver driveway

Having an underground and “dark” hotel driveway is really cool. It feels private/exclusive, a theme which continues throughout the hotel.

Shangri-La Vancouver driveway

Shangri-La Vancouver driveway

As soon as we pulled up the bellmen helped us with our bags and directed us to the reception desk, which was located just inside the door to the right.

Shangri-La Vancouver driveway entrance

The lower lobby was beautiful and felt very residential, which I liked. As soon as we got to the lobby the front office manager, Alex, greeted us and proceeded to check us in.

Shangri-La Vancouver lower lobby

Shangri-La Vancouver lower lobby

The lobby had a unique scent, so I couldn’t help but ask what it was. Alex pulled out their signature scent collection from behind the desk, which is actually for sale — cool stuff!

Shangri-La Vancouver signature scents

He quickly processed our check-in and then offered to give us a quick tour of the hotel. The Shangri-La takes up the first 15 floors of the 62 floor building (which otherwise consists of both offices and residences).

He showed us around the main lobby, which was one level up. This is where the concierge desk and Xi Shi Lounge are located. The lobby was simply stunning (I promise that’s the only time I’ll use that word in this report, since I got called out for the number of times I used the word “stunning” in my Pacific Rim review).

I love how no matter where in the world you are, Shangri-La instantly transforms you to feeling like you’re in Asia. Then again, that’s not really much of a challenge in Vancouver. 😉

Shangri-La Vancouver lobby

Shangri-La Vancouver lobby

Shangri-La Vancouver lobby

We were escorted up to our rooms on the ninth floor.

Shangri-La Vancouver hallway

I was assigned room 902, a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite. It was located past the door and to the right for the entrance to rooms 901 and 902. Presumably that door could be closed if someone wanted both rooms to turn it into a two bedroom suite.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite entrance

Shangri-La Vancouver floorplan

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite entrance

The suite featured an “L” shaped entryway, which let out into the living room.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite hallway

The living room featured a couch, chair, and flat screen TV.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite living room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite living room

The hotel generously left a welcome amenity consisting of fruit and a birthday cake on the living room table.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite welcome amenity

Then behind the living room was a desk with an office chair, and then a dining table with four chairs (a great place to enjoy a nice dinner eat pizza at 3AM, I might add!).

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite living room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite living room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite dining area

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite desk

Behind the dining room table was a balcony with a table and four chairs. I loved how big the balcony was, and wish the weather would have been more cooperative during our stay.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite balcony

Literally the only downside to the Shangri-La is the lack of views. While the hotel has an awesome location, it isn’t on the waterfront, so the views aren’t amazing. And on top of that there are two big buildings under construction on both sides of the Shangri-La. But that’s a small price to pay for everything else about this hotel that rocks.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite views

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite views

Back near the living room by the entrance to the bedroom were the minibar and Nespresso machine.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite minibar

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite Nespresso machine

The bedroom featured a king size bed — possibly the most comfortable I’ve ever had anywhere, between the mattress itself and the linens — a chair, and a flat screen TV.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bedroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bedroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bedroom

There were fragrance sticks with the signature Shangri-La scent on the night stand.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite scents

The bathroom was gorgeous. It featured double sinks, a shower, a soaking tub, a partitioned off toilet, and heated floors.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bathroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bathroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite bathroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite tub

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite shower

The toiletries were all BVLGARI — awesome!

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe One Bedroom Suite toiletries

Anyway, the room was just gorgeous, and a great value as well, I thought. I wouldn’t usually pay for a suite, but given occasion it seemed worth the premium.

My friends’ rooms were upgraded from Superior to Deluxe Rooms, so I checked one of them out for comparison’s sake. It’s worth noting that these rooms are only one category up from the base room, and are massive at over 500 square feet. So if you’re booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts or Virtuoso, you can expect to be upgraded to one of these based on availability.

By virtually any other hotel’s definition they’d be considered junior suites.

There was a big open area by the entrance, which led to the bathroom on the left and the living/bedroom to the right.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room

The living room featured a couch, chair, and coffee table.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room living area

Then there was a desk which partitioned off the living area from the king size bed.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room desk

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room

The room also had a Nespresso coffee machine and minibar.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room Nespresso machine

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room minibar

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room minibar

The bathroom also featured a soaking tub, shower, and partitioned off toilet.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room bathroom

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room tub

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room shower

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room toilet

While the hotel uses BVLGARI amenities for suites, they seem to use L’Occitane amenities for the rest of the rooms.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room toiletries

The room also featured two small balconies — one off the bedroom and one off the bathroom.

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room balcony

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room balcony

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room balcony

Shangri-La Vancouver Deluxe Room balcony

So the Deluxe One Bedroom Suite was awesome and an amazing value, but even more so the room that’s one category up from the standard room was huge, in my opinion.

Since we had quite a bit of food & beverage credit to burn we decided to have afternoon tea at Xi Shi Lounge, located just off the lobby. They serve afternoon tea with live music every day from 11:30AM till 5PM.

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge entrance

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge

The lounge was beautiful physically, but more than anything else the service was out-of-this-world-amazing. You know how I always rave about the service at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and in ANA first class, for example? Like, you know how in ANA first class they apologize to you for going above and beyond? Like when the flight attendant apologized profusely to me for offering me a new set of pajamas to take home with me:

When I emerged from the lavatory she was standing there and said “I’m so sorry, would it be alright with you if I took your pair of pajamas and gave you a new pair to take home with you?” Now, admittedly there’s a bit of a language barrier, so I assumed I misunderstood her. Did she ask if she could get me a new pair of pajamas, and apologize for it? Okay, this is Japan, you apologize for everything, so I assumed I did in fact understand her correctly, and of course happily agreed. A few minutes later she came by my seat with a new set of pajamas in a nice pouch. Simply unbelievable service.

Our server was on par with that, if not better. It’s just so fun to have a truly transformative experience, to drive two hours from home and feel like you’re in Japan.

I mean, just one example of the amazing service. I accidentally dropped a heavily jammed scone on my napkin. I flagged down the server and apologized for the mess and asked if I could get a new napkin. She had a look of pure horror on her face said “oh no, I’m so sorry,” and sprinted in her high heels to get a new napkin at a speed that would have been worthy of the Olympics.

Just unbelievable.

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge afternoon tea setup

The afternoon tea itself was great as well. There was a large tea selection, and the sandwiches, scones, and sweets were top notch.

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge afternoon tea menu

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge afternoon tea menu

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge afternoon tea menu

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge afternoon tea

Since we had the food & beverage credit we originally wanted to have dinner at MARKET, the Jean-Georges restaurant located inside the hotel. Apparently it was closed that evening for a private event, so they brought out some of the signature appetizers from MARKET for us to try, which I thought was such a proactive touch… as if we didn’t have enough food already.

The appetizers were delicious, and I’ll definitely have to try the restaurant for dinner sometime.

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge MARKET appetizers

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge MARKET appetizers

And lastly, they even brought me a birthday cake. That really, really, really wasn’t necessary.

Shangri-La Vancouver Xi Shi Lounge birthday cake

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a juice bar, gym, and pool on the fifth floor

Shangri-La Vancouver spa and gym level

Shangri-La Vancouver Ginger Juice Bar

The pool wasn’t huge, though with the weather I can’t say I would have used it anyway.

Shangri-La Vancouver pool

I loved the hot tub, though.

Shangri-La Vancouver hot tub

Shangri-La Vancouver pool

The gym also featured a wide variety of modern equipment.

Shangri-La Vancouver gym

Shangri-La Vancouver gym

We slept in the following morning and skipped breakfast, but instead had Easter Brunch at MARKET, given that we still had a food & beverage credit to spend. The restaurant is located on the third floor.

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant

I loved that brunch was a la carte. Generally I’m not much of a brunch person. I find it confusing. It’s like going to the Cheesecake Factory. You have 45 pages to choose from, and I end up just flustered.

How on earth am I supposed to choose between breakfast and lunch at 11AM?! And if I split the difference and do half breakfast and half lunch, what do I drink? A non-fat cappuccino or a Diet Coke with lime?! Yes, perhaps first world problems… 😉


I ended up going with a non-fat cappuccino to drink.

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant cappuccino

Then I had the bircher muesli to start — it was the best I’ve had anywhere (and I’ve had a lot in Germany).

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant muesli

Meanwhile one of my friends had the carpaccio of beef.

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant carpaccio of beef

For the main I had the crunchy roasted halibut. Again, it was excellent.

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant roasted halibut

Meanwhile my friend that had the carpaccio of beef had the french toast as his main. Weird one, he is. 😉

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant french toast

Lastly for dessert I had the peanut butter chocolate bar. Mmmm…

Shangri-La Vancouver MARKET Restaurant peanut butter chocolate bar

Service at the Shangri-La Vancouver

I hinted at it above, but the service was excellent across the board. The hotel definitely feels more exclusive and residential than the Pacific Rim, which you’d except given that it only has 119 rooms. And the service was also very reserved, which I mean in a good way. Because of how small and private the hotel is, you’re not going to see five housekeepers in the hallway that will greet you. The same is true for the gym and pool, where you’re more or less alone. But I love that.

The front office manager, Alex, was top notch and incredibly proactive.

There were just so many small touches about this hotel that I loved. For example, rather than leaving a chocolate with turndown service, they left a nightcap — a bottle of Glenfiddich scotch.

Shangri-La Vancouver turndown service

Bottom line on the Shangri-La Vancouver

I loved the Shangri-La Vancouver. After my impressive stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim I was ready to be disappointed, but I wasn’t. Instead I was equally delighted, but in a completely different way.

I’ll have a follow up post comparing the two properties. Interestingly they’re actually owned by the same company, so that might explain why they’re equal but different. They’re two totally different styles, but both styles I love.

The Shangri-La has large, gorgeous rooms, amazing service, and a really residential feel that you don’t get at very many hotels. The only (small) downside is the lack of views.

Have you stayed at the Shangri-La Vancouver, and if so, what was your experience?

  1. Hi Lucky, thanks so much for such a detailed report, especially which room you booked and what the upgrade level to that is, etc. Really enjoying living vicariously through your full-time hotel residency adventures, and getting some great ideas for hotel stays in great cities! Not ashamed to admit, as a toiletry aficionado, that suite might be worth it just for the Bulgari products! 😉

  2. Ben, glad you enjoyed the Shangri-La. I’m a huge fan of MARKET – our family has Sunday brunch quite often there. Next time, try the burger! It’s quite good. My mom and sister seem to love the French toast though, it’s made with brioche bread so it’s fluffier than usual and quite rich.

  3. You continue to outdo yourself with the turn of a phrase…

    “a heavily jammed scone”

    Well played!

  4. For a city like Vancouver, it’s starting to feel like they have more than their fair share of exceptional hotels. The last time I went I got irritated that there wasn’t something I’m used to (read: an Intercontinental). Almost stayed at the Pacific Rim…guess I screwed the pooch on not doing it. I won’t tell anyone where I actually ended up…it was so sad.

  5. Interesting as always and very useful photos!

    Since we live near Vancouver, you’re tempting us to try a mid-week getaway at one of these properties when the price is right.

  6. I have stayed at Shangri-La properties in Asia many times and they are amazing. That is part of what I find difficult to attain top elite level with a US hotel chain since it is hard to justify staying at a Hilton, Marriott or sometimes Hyatt and SPG when you are in Asia or Europe. There are many regional hotel chains in Asia and Europe that offer service and accommodations that are almost always one notch above US chains. Other options are Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, Banyan Tree which in my opinion are way better than US hotels.

  7. @Andrew yvr haha no! ……………………I had a friend book me the employee rate at…another…IHG property… sigh. Hey, it was $39 lol

  8. I am thoroughly enjoying your detailed experience reports! I also live in the Vancouver area and will definitely take an opportunity to try this hotel on a special occasion.

  9. Stunning review! (oops–sorry for continued overuse of that word.) You stayed at some superb choices. Vancouver is such a wonderful city. (And Stanley Park is amazing!)

    What a great birthday celebration! Nice trip you’re having. When does it end? (Oh wait….) 😉

  10. Ben – For crying out loud: Happy Birthday!!

    Really glad you were able to spend it in perhaps my favorite city, Vancouver. Great reviews and thanks for all of the great details.

    We’ve stayed at the Pacific Rim, but one of our best stays ever was at a boutique hotel there: Hotel Le Soleil in a Suite that must have had a 16-18′ ceiling height (no exaggeration) and a floor to ceiling window on one end of the living room. Talk about STUNNING! :^)

  11. I don’t get the love of the Bulgari toiletries. I’d much rather have the L’Occitane – the Bulgari packaging looks kind of ghetto and if you actually review the ingredients there is nothing really that special about ’em.

  12. did they proactively know it was your birthday or you email ahead of time for the excellent birthday service ?

  13. @ choi — I think my travel agent that booked the hotel mentioned it was my birthday. I certainly didn’t mention it directly.

  14. Happy birthday Ben! This is my first post but have been following you for a while!

    UK based so Virtuoso doesnt seem available but will check out the rates at the Pacific Rim and Shangri La as going to be in Vancouver and Seatte in t-minus 2 weeks!

  15. “I love how no matter where in the world you are, Shangri-La instantly transforms you to feeling like you’re in Asia. Then again, that’s not really much of a challenge in Vancouver.”

    That why its called ‘Hongcouver’

  16. Excellent TR as usual. I cant believe that the chandelier (in your dining area/room) over the table didnt bother you? Its NOT centered over the table!!!

    Glad you had a memorable birthday!

  17. Sounds like it was a fun weekend despite birthday cakes being so tiny! 😛

    This is probably going to go in their next ad:
    The most comfortable [bed] I’ve ever had anywhere, between the mattress itself and the linens…

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *