Arriving at the Shangri-La Vancouver isn’t the most glamorous experience. You enter an underground garage just like any other and soon after take a left into an underground check-in area. We made the reservations just hours earlier through a Virtuoso agent and arrived at the hotel around 1:30pm.
In addition to the upgrade we were entitled to we also got another upgrade so ended up in an Executive Balcony room. The room wasn’t quite ready so we were ushered into their lounge and had a beverage and got our keys about 40 minutes later when my better half went to see what the status was.
The hotel is on the lowest 15 floors of the tower and the rooms start on the 7th floor. Our room was on the 11th floor and as we entered seeing the destruction of the parking garage and hearing the jack hammering wasn’t exactly what I envisioned beforehand. Perhaps this is where the double upgrade came into play, looked good on paper but not in reality.
Overall the room was meticulously well maintained and clean. At one point the housekeeper knocked on the door and replaced the soap dish because it had a minor chip. The room had a nice couch, large Calcutta marble bathroom, large walk-in closet and a small patio but if you’re a smoker that’s all you need.
Many hotels would put this room into the Junior Suite category, especially considering it’s on a corner so you get windows everywhere. From the moment I got off the elevator and spent some time in the room I realized just how eerily similar it is to the Fairmont Pacific Rim. It’s as if they used the exact same designer and he just changed the shades of wood/marble/walls.
In the bathroom, the Shangri La puts out all the toiletries you may need including a full size toothbrush and toothpaste. The toiletries were L’Occitane which I’m always happy with. However the tv in this mirror is really useless. It’s just too small unless you are sitting there putting on makeup or styling your hair.
I ended up having a nap shortly after check-in while she was at the Pacific Rim spa. Once she came back and woke me up we realized our room had become a sauna. The “Engineer” spent a good hour and a half in our room and sometimes running downstairs. At the beginning it’s no big deal but after 45 minutes this just becomes kind of awkward.
The bed, couch, tv and programming were all excellent. We had a food and beverage credit so decided to order room service for dinner. The menu looked very promising since it had many of the best dishes you can find while in Asia. We ordered the Pad Thai and Nasi Goreng.
I could barely get through 3 bites of the noodlest. My local food court which sucks at making Pad Thai was better than this. The flavour of plain mushy noodles is what still sticks out.
The Nasi Goreng wasn’t much better, actually even worse. The chicken was truly inedible. It’s as if they made it first as dry as they could and then rolled it in dry spices. This easily qualified for one of my worst 5 chicken breast experiences ever.
The next morning we headed for breakfast since we had another food and beverage credit thanks to Virtuoso. I ordered a very nice smoothie which they delivered from the Smoothie bar upstairs. I went with a classic American breakfast and it was well prepared. The hash browns were actually excellent, easily in my top 3 hash browns ever.
The hotel has an outdoor pool and hot tub which isn’t large but makes the most of the space. We were the only ones there so it was perfect to soak in a few rays which usually appear in the afternoons. The gent working this area also stood out when it came to making us feel very welcome.
I have dined at their Market dining room which has a Jean Georges menu. This was in 2011 and overall it was an excellent experience and I even found it to be good value for fine dining.
Check-out was easy. I had actually hoped they would have acknowledged the maintenance issue but it didn’t happen.
I was hoping my experience at Shangri La was more special but at the end of the day I realized the Fairmont Pacific Rim is truly the more spectacular hotel. Even if I didn’t have the maintenance issue or were served the best Pad Thai ever I would still pick the Pacific Rim if the price is the same. The Pacific Rim is located right next to the water and the view it delivers is what brings me back to Vancouver.
But in this case I was staying at a $299 rate (During Labour Day long weekend) which included $100 food and beverage credit and $80 towards breakfast including tip. Plus a room upgrade, amenity and late check-out. The Pacific Rims basic room for the same dates was over $500 with no extras. If this is the case I wouldn’t hesitate to save the difference and make this great hotel my home in Vancouver.