Do you have a bucket list? I do and I recently got to check something lovely off: I treated myself to a stay at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel (a.k.a. the Fairmont YVR). It’s where I spent my last 48 hours in Canada before making the big move to England. Read on for my review of this luxe experience and why it’s 100% value for money — especially in COVID times.
I’ll start off by saying that I’ve actually stayed at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel (3111 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC) before. But it was pre-blog, something I think I won from a company Christmas party back in 2008-ish, and literally getting there, sleeping and waking up at ridiculous-o’clock to fly to Mexico. I didn’t have time to appreciate the experience — and since then, I’ve always wanted to have a proper stay. When I finally got my UK visa approval in April, I made the booking.
Thanks to Air Canada changing my flight (from direct to connecting and then a very early YVR to YYZ flight), what was originally supposed to be a one-night stay, turned into a two-night stay. It was the only way I’d get to have some quality time each with my mum and step-mum. The hotel very kindly gave me the media rate, but I would have paid the $350 CAD resident rate*. At first glance, this isn’t a #GetThrifty price, but peace of mind and convenience are priceless. Particularly when it means you can basically wake up and stroll out to the terminal.
If I’d chosen to stay downtown or closer to the airport, I would have had to deal with taking a cab or Uber to the airport. (There was no way I was taking transit with four suitcases and a backpack.) That cost would have been anywhere from $50-100. Plus the anxiety I was bound to feel in a vehicle that I didn’t get to see get sanitised from top to bottom. No, thank you. I was already anxious enough about my upcoming pandemic plane travel. So that money saved went towards room service, which I’ll get to in a moment.
*This was the Spring 2021 resident rate.
Hotels are struggling right now. And if they’re smart — no matter what their star rating — they know that stellar customer service is the key to recovery in these weird pandemic times. Why? People talk and people post, just as I am now. Nothing is ever perfect but that doesn’t mean those proverbial ducks don’t need to be in an exceptionally tidy row. Everyone deserves to feel a little VIP.
I was running very early for once my life — this almost never happens — and I called the hotel to see if I could leave my bags while I returned my rental car and waited for my room. Not only was it “No problem at all,” but I was so warmly greeted when I walked into the hotel’s lower lobby. The bellman, Fidel, swooped in with a cheerful “We’ve been expecting you!”. I jokingly (but just in case) clarified that he was actually talking about me, not someone else. To which I was told, “Of course, Ms. Hardcastle — they let me know you’d be arriving early.”
Fidel didn’t even blink as he stacked my four suitcases, backpack, bag of miscellaneous items, yoga mat, and Hunter wellies on the luggage cart. The hotel has obviously had guests with far more luggage, but I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. He gave me my luggage tag, said he would check on my room for me, and gave me directions to the rental car drop-off centre. (Thank you!)
When I came back to check-in, I walked across the breezeway with the stunning chandelier to a welcoming and seamless process. All the COVID protocols integrated with their aesthetic, and any time I needed something, I could just pick up the phone. Like when I accidentally locked myself out of my room when putting the room service tray out… (Thank goodness for the concierge phone on the Fairmont Gold floor — and for Fidel, who rescued me.)
I don’t know if I had received an upgrade or they just decided to put me on the Fairmont Gold (the top!) floor, but did I ever feel special pushing ’14’ in the elevator and walking into that room. I walked into the welcome sight of all my luggage in a neat grouping (Thank you, Fidel!), and the most beautiful room. From the plush carpet to the gigantic bathroom and tub, and the gorgeous bed and the absolutely stunning runway and North Shore Mountain view, it was perfect. I cannot think of a better place to have spent my last two days in Canada. You can watch my room tour here.
Coming down from the high of the floor-to-ceiling window view, I zeroed in on the glass dome I’d walked past. Not only were there treats but also a note from the Sales and Marketing Director — she wished me a safe trip for my move to England. These are the little things that are sometimes overlooked — details matter.
It was a very spacious room, so I had ample room to roll out my yoga mat. I don’t often do actual *sunrise* sunrise yoga in the spring or summer, but I did not waste that opportunity either morning that I woke up in my king-size bed. I also made zero use of the TV throughout the day and evening. The mountain view combined with the runway hustle and bustle was way better.
The room, in brief:
- Floor-to-ceiling, soundproof windows
- Did I mention the amazing view?
- Super clean and crisp, yet welcoming. Their #ALLSAFE protocols has not made anything feel sterile.
- Robe and slippers — a hotel MUST in my opinion.
- Tea, coffee, drinkware, etc, plus the COVID essentials pack of sanitiser, mask and wipes
- Luxury bathroom with double sinks, sunken jet tub (yes!), and excellent walk-in shower
- Window between the bed and bathroom, which I felt really kept the space open.
- Personalised toiletries, which made me feel especially swish. I believe this is a Fairmont Gold perk.
- Fabulous, very comfortable king size bed
- Nice little desk with a comfy chiar
- Another comfy chair and a little table facing the view. This is where I enjoyed my meals.
- Large TV screen
- All the plugs, buttons, etc to make life easy
- Button-operated blackout curtains (100% my favourite feature of the room after the jet tub)
It must be said that there is nothing quite like having a bath in a fancy hotel room tub. Once I stopped looking out the window, I made myself a cup of tea, grabbed that plate of tasty treats, and just sank into my bath-salted water. It was probably the first time I’d fully relaxed in about 48 hours. And I cared not a jot that macarons, cookies, and chocolate drops were my very late lunch.
Sugar wasn’t going to sustain me through the evening, though. Thankfully, the room service menu at the Fairmont YVR is varied, seasonal, and fairly reasonably priced. I don’t normally order room service, but this was a treat to myself. And I had absolutely no desire to go anywhere if I didn’t have to. The menu is essentially a duplicate of the downstairs restaurant Globe@YVR — at the time, indoor dining at restaurants was a no-no, but next time, I’m heading downstairs to eat! (And perhaps having afternoon tea…)
Dinner (Night 1) – After a lunch of basically all sugar, my night one dinner had to be healthy. The Spring salad is seasonal and included red and golden beets (LOVE) with a tasty vinaigrette. I ordered a side of salmon for some extra protein, and it was divine.
Breakfast (Day 2) – I started my day with the YVR Benny: perfectly poached eggs and crispy potatoes. It was a hearty way to refuel after an early morning online yoga and The Class session. (You will note my Hollandaise sauce is on the side. Confession: I severely dislike this creamy sauce. But I order it on the side every time I get a Benny because I want to like it. The Fairmont YVR Hollandaise *almost* got me, but I think it’s a texture thing. I’m possibly a lost cause.)
Dinner (Night 2) – In honour of my soon-to-be home country, my last dinner in Canada had to be fish and chips. The batter was especially nice and I will never say no to fried or baked potatoes. Ever.
I’d requested a wake-up call at 5:00 am as a backup to my 4:45 (and subsequent) alarm, but I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 4:40. Before. The. Sun. And my alarm. That’s how excited I was to finally get on a plane to join my Brit in England. Coming back to sunrise yoga: worth it. And just as Fidel was the first person to greet me at the hotel, he was the last person to say goodbye. I actually got a bit teary when I was going down the escalator and saw him. If I could have hugged him, I would have.
Top tip: You can request a luggage pick-up for when you check out. Which I was very grateful for because… four suitcases.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a cheap hotel stay, but my #GetThrifty hashtag isn’t just about finding something for less. It’s about what makes the most sense and creates the most value for you. In my case, it was as a traveller leaving Vancouver who wanted to feel calm, safe, and at ease at a time of big change. (This hotel is also ideal for day use during a long layover and for business travel. Also times when you want to feel calm and at ease.)
Thank you so much to the amazing staff at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. I’m absolutely certain I would have received the exact same excellent service in “normal” times. But I definitely felt the perks of staying at a five-star hotel that wasn’t at capacity. I was so well taken care of, and it was nice to have some luxury at such a weird time in the world. When we come back to Vancouver for a visit — hopefully in non-quarantine capacity — The Brit and I are staying at least one night or in a day-use room. And maybe going to the spa…
P.S. The overall Fairmont Gold program and lounge reopen in September 2021. They currently have a #GetThrifty 20% off discount that you should definitely take advantage of.
“You have to treat yourself every once in a while, get to the fun stuff!”Heidi Klum