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Fabulous Rosewood Hotel Georgia and other Vancouver treats

geor_gallery_hotel_3VANCOUVER – A classic restaurant and a newly-old classic hotel.

I spent the first couple days of this week in one of the world’s favourite cities, eating and drinking and checking out some great locations.

Topping the list has to be the Rosewood Hotel Georgia , a 1927 beauty that was given a five-year renovation and re-opened in 2011. I’d seen it before but hadn’t stayed the night until this trip. And I’m happy to report it’s just as sexy and seductive and luxurious as it looks.

I love hotels with a real sense of style and arrival, and that’s what you get with the lush, dark woods and the gorgeous staircase and the old-style clock and elevators at this marvellous hotel, located right across the road from the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s a spectacular lobby with a small bar serving some classic cocktails.

But they did something very smart and updated the look with tons of colourful, fabulous paintings and other works of art.

“We didn’t want it to feel like a museum, so we married the old and the new,” one hotel management person told me.

There are dozens and dozens of works of art in the public areas of the hotel, almost all of them from Canadian artists. It’s said to be the largest collection of art in a hotel in western Canada.

The rooms are truly stunning; with neutral colours that aren’t remotely boring, plus stylish chairs and lots of the kind of dark wood you find in the lobby. There’s free Wi-Fi (thank you) and great TV’s and a Nespresso machine (sadly, not with Penelope Cruz to work it for me) and all those other modern touches we love in hotels including a power bar that pops up out of the desk, which is great. But what I really loved, and what many folks seem to want in a hotel these days, is the cavernous bathroom. All the baths in this 156-room property (there were 300-plus prior to the renovations) have ENORMOUS bathrooms with a stand-alone white tub and marble floors and his and her (or his and his or her and her) sinks with lots of counter space. There’s also a huge and wonderful rainshower that I’m pretty sure would’ve fit not only me but three of my closest friends.

I’m told the bathrooms are about 210 square feet; not much smaller than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in over the years. Most of the rooms in total are close to 500 square feet, so you’re not going to feel squished.

There’s also a terrific spa and a cool saltwater pool with wild lighting and remarkable suites with rooftop gardens, hot tubs and bbq’s. I’d love to go back in the fall once they’ve opened the new basement bar, called Prohibition. It promises to be a throwback kinda place, perhaps even with liquor served out of old teapots like they used to do back in the days of trying to hide the booze from the authorities.

The Bel Café makes wonderful coffee and serves fabulous croissants and one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had; a flaky bun with ham, scrambled eggs with chives and Swiss cheese. Marvellous.

Users of Trip Advisor have ranked the Rosewood Hotel Georgia as #2 in Vancouver and as the 16 th top hotel on the planet, so that’s saying something.

Speaking of classics, I also enjoyed a fabulous meal at one of the timeless restaurants of Vancouver. Bishop’s has been a city institution for 28 years, and I can see why. It’s a great location on 4 th Ave. in Kitsilano, where you’ll find lots of great food shops and restaurants and boutiques. And the menu is wonderful, with fresh, sustainable seafood and local meats and produce.

I tasted wonderful, perfectly cooked scallops that were served with a side of yummy pork belly, as well as good (not quite great to be honest) charcuterie. The beets with mascarpone, however, were divine and the roast lamb utterly fabulous. There’s a great wine list, too.

They put a strong emphasis on local and seasonal products. A woman at the table next to mine asked the waiter about greens she might have with her dinner and was told that they had fresh spinach in the kitchen but probably not much else.

“I’ll have a look for you,” he said with a lovely French accent and a smile. “But we only keep fresh vegetables on hand.”

There are white table cloths and white walls with fun, water-colour prints of women; a nice touch that brought a bit of whimsy to a room that otherwise might look a tad too serious.

The owner, John Bishop, greeted many of the guests by name as they came in the door on a cold Sunday night with icy snow on the ground and a good wind kicking up. The place was near capacity despite the weather, and that speaks volumes about the service and the food.

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