2010 Canadian Roadtrip: Our 1st Five Days in Vancouver, BC

We arrived in Vancouver on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in May. We didn't have a hotel reservation but Dimitri had done work online to try to find the best deals. He thought that a Howard Johnson's on Kingsway and E. 12 Ave. would be a good deal. The drive across Kingsway was tedious and the neighborhood not good. The hotel wasn't interesting and the room at over $100 over-priced and under-valued. 


Audre stayed in the car (guarding our stuff--better than she did in Bolivia, click here to read about the scam that Audre fell for while guarding the car) while Dimitri looked at the Howard Johnson's. Using Lonely Planet Guidebook for Vancouver, Audre started calling hotels in the areas of Vancouver that Dimitri had noted would be good for us. Many were full for the weekend. (Audre remembered the time that we arrived in Sydney, Australia on a Saturday in the summer without a reservation and vowed we should never do that again!)


One area Dimitri had identified as desirable was the West End and Audre called the Sylvia Hotel there. After speaking with a receptionist, Audre was told that we could have a queen room for $120 plus tax. At that point, that price was looking good. On the way over to the West End, we stopped at a motel that we thought would be inexpensive--just to have a look (City Center Motor Hotel, Main St. and E. 6th Ave. Vancouver). The room was awful--small and dark; we were told that we could not leave anything in our car (and our luggage wouldn't fit in the room) and that the room would cost around $80. We stopped at another hotel on Granville that was a large one and saw a few rooms, all at over $150 (without tax or parking) and then headed to the Sylvia Hotel on English Bay.


The beach at English Bay was packed; people were in rows sitting on the beach (which was strange, we thought). 
The beach at English Bay has huge Canadian tree trunks for people to lean against, hence they sit on the beach in rows!


The Sylvia Hotel is right at English Bay, practically on it. Audre went to reconnoiter while Dimitri guarded the car and our stuff. The room Audre was shown was small but it had a desk and one comfortable chair. It also had a big chest of drawers and a big closet so we could unpack and put away our suitcases (making the room more livable). The hotel said that wi-fi was included in the price but not breakfast and not parking. Wally, the man who showed Audre around the hotel, showed us where Dimitri could park the car so he could see the room too. We were told that we were getting the last queen room and that they were offering it to us at the price of a standard room. It had two big windows overlooking "A-MAZING Laughter Revealed" and the beach. Dimitri saw the room, noted that it was late Saturday afternoon and we needed a place to stay and started negotiating with Melissa, the nice woman at the front desk. We were able to negotiate the rate of $138 ($120 plus the GST tax at that time) to include parking (Sylvia Hotel, 1154 Gilford St. (parking off Pendrell St.) West End, Vancouver, BC V6G 2P6, tel. 604-681-9321, web: www.sylviahotel.com). We decided to stay 5 nights during which time we planned to find and move to our long term accommodation in Vancouver.
The Sylvia Hotel where we stayed for our first 5 days in Vancouver


Breakfast wasn't included in our hotel rate so the first morning we walked to the Red Umbrella on Davie for breakfast . The next day we had a $17 breakfast in our hotel. On the third morning we brought our own cereal and fruit to the hotel’s restaurant and asked for bowls and milk and coffee (as we have done hundreds of times in every country where we've traveled for the last 15 years). After we had our breakfast a server told us it was not permitted to bring our own food to the restaurant. We asked to see the manager and Chantal came to the table and told us bringing our own food to the restaurant was not permitted because it doesn’t look good. We asked to speak to her manager to achieve a compromise. She said she would. We moved to room 404 a much larger queen double than our first room 439. In addition to a desk, it had a table and two comfortable chairs. So, we would order coffee, plates and silverware and we would have breakfast in our room.


So we ended up in a room that we liked at the Sylvia Hotel but we weren't happy with the attitude of Scott, the front desk manager, and some of the other people who work at the hotel. Would we recommend this hotel? Since each room is different, it would be important to know which room you'd get but even so, we're not enthusiastic prior guests. The  whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths. 


On Sunday and Monday we pursued all of the leads that Dimitri had developed online before arriving in Vancouver. We saw apartments in Richmond and New Westminster and everywhere in between! By Monday afternoon we thought we had found a nice apartment at 438 Seymour Street in Yaletown. Harry the owner wasn't able to confirm that we could have the parking space in the garage of the building so we were waiting to hear from him on that matter. So, Tuesday afternoon we went to look at an apartment in Coal Harbour at 588 Broughton Street (Harbourside Park) and signed a lease there. Harry later called us to say that we could have his apartment on Seymour with the parking space and we were disappointed but it was too late by then.