Vancouver is a gorgeous coastal city on the West of British Columbia province in Canada and an amazing destination for all travelers interested in pristine beaches, history, culture, nature activities (skiing, hiking etc), gastronomy, shopping and everything else in-between. It’s located right in between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, more specifically the English Bay. By the way, Vancouver is not the capital of British Columbia (the capital is Victoria), but it is by far the biggest city in the province and it has a lot to offer!
Fun fact: Vancouver ranked as the sixth most livable city in the entire world!
Vancouver is not a small city, with around 680.000 people living there, to which we add the 9 million travelers going there each year. Now that you decided to take a trip to this awesome city, the next thing you need to figure out is where to stay in Vancouver. The city is divided into several different neighborhoods, but not all of them are relevant for travelers, especially if you’re visiting for the first time.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the best 5 neighborhoods in Vancouver together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations for each of them, all sorted by price range!
Are you ready? Let’s go!
- If you’re in a hurry…
- 1. Yaletown – Where to stay in Vancouver for the first time
- 2. West End – Where to stay in Vancouver on a budget
- 3. Gastown & Chinatown
- 4. Coal Harbour / Waterfront – Where to stay in Vancouver for nightlife
- 5. Main Street & Mount Pleasant
- Best apartments in Vancouver
- Best hotels near Vancouver International Airport
If you’re in a hurry…
The best area to stay if you’re visiting for the first time is Downtown Vancouver, more specifically Yaletown. This is where all the interesting and exciting attractions and activities are located, so you’ll always be in the center of the action if you’ll stay here!
Which area should you choose?
First of all, here is a map of the Vancouver neighborhoods I’ll be talking about in this post, so you can easily visualize them:
Even though the city has many interesting neighborhoods, not all of them are relevant for travelers willing to explore the top sights and activities there. More specifically, the Downtown area is almost the only good recommendation for tourists, together with Main Street and Mount Pleasant as well.
The good news is that Vancouver has a great public transport system and it’s also pretty walkable (and bike-friendly as well), especially if you base yourself in the Downtown core, as recommended, so you won’t have any problems getting around and exploring it!
Okay, but how can you choose a neighborhood that is right for you? In order to help you out, I made a list of personalized recommendations which out can check out below:
- Where to stay in Vancouver for luxury: Yaletown
- Best area for budget travelers: West End
- Where to stay in Vancouver for families: West End
- Where to stay in Vancouver for nightlife: Coal Harbour or anywhere in Downtown
- Best area for beaches: near the West End or Kitsilano
Now that you understand the city better, let me tell you everything you need to know about the best areas to stay in Vancouver:
How is Downtown Vancouver organized?
The Downtown area is actually on a peninsula, but it’s not huge and it’s limited by Stanley Park on the West, False Creek on the South, Burrard Inlet on the North and Downtown Eastside on the East. Even though it’s not that big, it’s still divided into smaller sub-neighborhoods that offer a different vibe and advantages.
Here they are below:
- West End
- Coal Harbour
As I mentioned before, this area is the heart and soul of Vancouver, the most important spot in the city and kind of the only relevant area for tourists. There are countless restaurants, shops (especially on Robson Street), cafes, art galleries and museums around this area and it’s also a great nightlife center.
In terms of accommodation, Downtown is perfect for all types of travelers out there, from people interested in luxury to backpackers, families, night owls and business travelers. Plus, if your itinerary includes some day trips or some other destinations in Canada, staying in Downtown means you’ll always be close to Burrard Station and the Waterfront Station where you can take a train from.
Let’s see about the 4 sub-neighborhoods in Downtown Vancouver and which are the best hotels to stay in each of them:
1. Yaletown – Where to stay in Vancouver for the first time
Yaletown is one of the trendiest areas in Vancouver and a great waterfront neighborhood if you’re interested in upscale accommodations, chic cafes, funky shops and everything else in-between!
Yaletown is also a great area if you want to be surrounded by green spaces on the waterfront (David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park are just two examples), tons of different restaurants serving international cuisine (including a lot of seafood!) and public transportation options such as the Skytrain station which is located very close nearby.
Some of the important highlights of this neighborhood include Yaletown Park, the Terry Fox Statue, 374 Engine Pavilion, Vancouver Flea Market and Science World (TELUS World of Science). Plus, you’ll also be very close to Granville Island!
If you think this is the place for you, here are the best hotels in Yaletown, Vancouver to choose from:
Luxury (US$220 and up)
- Hotel BLU – This is probably the best upscale hotel in the city! This cool boutique hotel awaits with a great location, superb rooms, a swimming pool, a very good gym and plenty of other cool, new facilities!
- Opus Hotel – Here’s another excellent choice if you want to be walking distance to Granville Island, Robson Street, the Entertainment District and the North Shore as well. It’s one of the top properties in the city and it has a very cool on-site restaurant and bar!
Middle-priced (US$130 – US$220)
- The Burrard – If you’re looking for some very beautiful mid-range hotels in Yaletown, Vancouver, you just found the perfect one! It’s located right in the heart of the district and each room is super clean and gorgeous.
- Moda Hotel – Here’s another great choice if you want to be based in a great location, not very far from Granville Island as well. The rooms are spacious and stylish and the property has free Wi-Fi and many other nice perks!
Budget (up to US$130)
- YWCA Hotel Vancouver – If you’re traveling to the city on a tight budget but still want to be in the heart of the neighborhood, not far away from Granville Island and Granville Street either, I totally recommend this place! It has clean and comfy rooms and some unbeatable prices. Take a look at the pics, you may like it!
- Samesun Vancouver – This cool hostel is only a short walking distance from all the important attractions and activities in the center and it’s definitely the best place to stay if you’re seeking cheap prices!
2. West End – Where to stay in Vancouver on a budget
If you want to be in Downtown Vancouver but still get an authentic glimpse of how the locals and residents live in this city, then you should base yourself in the West End neighborhood!
The West End is also a great lively place if you want to enjoy some cool beaches (Second Beach or English Bay Beach are just two awesome examples) and soak up some sun during your stay in Vancouver, as this area is right near the English Bay. If you’re interested in some nature and relaxation, you can always head over to Stanley Park (the most well-known attraction in Vancouver) and have a picnic there or just take a walk. Pssst, West End is also called the “gateway to Stanley Park”.
While you’re in the West End, make sure to enjoy some shopping on Denman Street (or you can just relax, sip some coffee and people watch) or rent a bike and take a stroll near the bay. Bored? Why not try some kayaking or SUP in the English Bay? All these are possible in the incredible West End.
Convinced? Here are the best hotels in the area, all sorted by budget:
Luxury (US$220 and up)
- West End Guest House – If you want to be spoiled in a luxurious bed and breakfast, this is one of the best places to stay! Staying here means you won’t be far away from False Creek and Stanley Park, plus other interesting sights!
- The English Bay Inn – If you are looking for a cool 4-star place to stay in the heart of Downtown, this one’s for you! It’s close to all the popular spots in the city and it offers a very good service and an exceptional breakfast!
Middle-priced (US$70 – US$220)
- Best Western Plus Sands – Do you want to be right in the heart of Downtown and enjoy a very good value for the money you’ll be paying? Search no more, you just found the ideal accommodation for you! This 3-star hotel awaits with an on-site fitness center, a restaurant and many other cool perks on the beachfront!
- Times Square Suites – This one’s another great choice if you want to be close to False Creek and enjoy a comfortable stay in some beautiful rooms. This is actually an aparthotel and it has a cozy atmosphere!
Budget (up to US$70)
- HI Vancouver Downtown – If you’re on a very tight budget and you’re looking for the best places to stay, search no more, this cool hostel is for you! Free coffee, free Wi-Fi and clean rooms – these are just some of the advantages of staying here!
3. Gastown & Chinatown
Even though Gastown and Chinatown are two different sub-neighborhoods of Downtown Vancouver, I have decided to combine them into one single recommendation as they’re kind of tiny (at least compared to the West End, for example), they’re right near each other and they cater kind of the same needs for travelers.
Gastown and Chinatown are one of the best spots in the city for those interested in trying various types of cuisines and exploring some amazing restaurants and wine bars as well. Both of these areas are very cool and up-and-coming and they’re good for all types of travelers.
By the way, the Chinatown in Vancouver is the biggest one in the entire Canada and together with Gastown these two are considered to be some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.
If you’re interested in an ultimate shopping experience, you can head over to the International Village Shopping Center in Chinatown or Water Street or you can spend your time in one of the numerous Vancouver art galleries or boutique shops in Gastown. Some other cool spots in these two neighborhoods include Chinatown Heritage Alley, Rennie Museum, Victory Square, Vancouver Police Museum, Vancouver Lookout and the well-known Gastown Vancouver Steam Clock.
If you want to base yourself around here, scroll down to find the best hotels I have selected for you:
Luxury (US$220 and up)
- Rosewood Hotel Georgia – Do you want to stay in one of the best Gastown hotels in Vancouver? Then you should book your luxurious stay at this boutique hotel in Vancouver! The rooms are super pretty and the property also has a swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, a bar and more.
- L’Hermitage Hotel – When it comes to luxury hotels, Vancouver surely knows how to make them! This is one of the best places to stay in Vancouver if you imagine yourself in a gorgeous boutique hotel that has spa bathrooms and even some cool facilities for children!
Middle-priced (US$130 – US$220)
- Skwachàys Lodge – Here’s a great mid-range place to stay if you want to be close to the Steam Clock, Rogers Arena, Vancouver Playhouse and more! One of the coolest things about this place is that it has an on-site gift shop and an art gallery.
- The St. Regis Hotel – This superb 4-star hotel offers tons of amazing facilities and amenities and it awaits with a great fitness center, restaurant and bar on the property.
Budget (up to US$130)
- Cambie Hostel-Seymour – This cool and clean hostel features comfy rooms, a great location right in the heart of city, and plenty of other nice facilities and amenities that will help you have the best stay!
- Victorian Hotel – This hotel has a name that doesn’t lie – it’s located in a historical Victorian house! The hotel offers simple but clean rooms, a great continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi and everything else in-between!
4. Coal Harbour / Waterfront – Where to stay in Vancouver for nightlife
Coal Harbour (also simply called the “Waterfront” at times) is my recommendation for those of you that are looking for a vibrant nightlife and for those that are planning to take a cruise from Vancouver! This cool neighborhood is right on the waterfront, which means it’s right near the cruise terminal.
During the day, this area located right near the West End is chill and laid-back, but during the night the numerous bars, pubs and clubs come to life and they create the perfect atmosphere for those that want to enjoy a full night of fun and dancing until the morning!
Some of the highlights of this area include the Vancouver Convention Center, Canada Place, the Marine Building, Harbour Green Park and the Jack Poole Plaza – and you’ll also be super close to the famous Stanley Park as well, which I think is a great advantage!
That being said, here are the best hotels in Coal Harbour that you can choose from:
Luxury (US$220 and up)
- Loden Vancouver – This is DEFINITELY the best hotel in the entire city! It’s located within walking distance to all the important attractions in the center and it has some superb rooms for all those of you looking for a high-end level for their visit!
- Fairmont Hotel Vancouver – Here’s another great luxurious place for your stay in this amazing neighbourhood! This 5-star hotel has beautiful rooms and easy access to all the important landmarks!
Middle-priced (US$130 – US$220)
- Auberge Vancouver Hotel – Make sure you book a room here if you want to be close to all the cool spots in the center of the city, including Canada Place and the Lookout. This one has a very nice outdoor terrace as well where you can relax and unwind!
- Blue Horizon Hotel – This great mid-range hotel is located right at the border with West End, while still being in Coal Harbour neighborhood. Contemporary rooms, free Wi-Fi, indoor pool, sauna – these are just some of the advantages of staying here!
Budget (up to US$130)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good cheap hotels in Vancouver, Coal Harbour. If you’re a traveler visiting Vancouver on a tight budget, I recommend checking out the budget section from my other area recommendations – for example Yaletown. You can also check out the rates and rooms on Airbnb here, you might get lucky!
Now that we’re finished with Downtown Vancouver, my other recommendation for travelers is Main Street and Mount Pleasant:
5. Main Street & Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant is part of Vancouver’s East Side and it’s simply great for youngsters and hipsters looking to have some fun and enjoy the best sights outside of Downtown Vancouver!
The Main Street is, of course, the main street in the Mount Pleasant area and one of the unique advantages of staying here is that you’ll have smooth airport access, which is much simpler and close than in the city center. As a downside, you won’t be close to the beaches and green spaces that are specific to Downtown Vancouver!
There are also tons of awesome restaurants, cute cafes and shops around, and even art galleries so you can never get bored around here! And no worries, you’ll have many public transportation options that will take you downtown, such as buses, for example (in around 25 minutes).
If you feel this is the right place for you, here are the best hotels I can recommend:
Luxury (US$200 and up)
- Spacious and Luxury suite – Do you want to be spoiled during your stay in the city, while also being within walking distance to all the cool spots in this neighborhood? Then make sure to book your room here! This luxurious apartment is super cool and clean!
- Morden 2 Bedrooms Private Suite – Here’s a very nice holiday home if you’re looking for some comfy rooms with easy access to the center of the city. Just take a look at the pictures, it looks gorgeous!
Middle-priced (US$120 – US$200)
- Warm Cozy Home Away from Home – This cool and comfortable guest house is the right choice for all those of you looking for a good value for the money! It offers a 4-star service and plenty of space and cleanliness!
- White House Bed and Breakfast – This awesome bed and breakfast has some very good prices as well and beautiful rooms. You can also reach the center in 20 minutes by public transportation, which is a great advantage!
Budget (up to US$120)
- Windsor Guest House – Are you on a tight budget? No worries, I have a great solution for you! This amazing 4-star bed and breakfast awaits with a vegetarian breakfast, free Wi-Fi, clean rooms and more.
- Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel – Here’s another excellent candidate if you’re looking for classic bright rooms (including family rooms), an on-site fitness center, a bar, a restaurant and many other cool facilities!
Best apartments in Vancouver
There are some travelers out there (read: me) that prefer a sense of comfort and coziness when traveling, compared to the ‘classic’ atmosphere found in hotels. For all those of you that feel like this, I can only recommend one thing: book an apartment instead of a hotel! An Airbnb is a great choice for all those that want to save some money on accommodation (as they tend to be a bit cheaper) and for bigger groups that want to stick together during their vacation.
That being said, below I have selected the 6 best apartments in Vancouver for you, all grouped by price range for your convenience:
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- Amazing Vancouver Views from a Mid-Century Building – Yes, it is possible to enjoy some luxury even if you stay in an apartment! This one is located in a superb building and it has a great decor – just check out the pictures, you’ll love it!
- Huge, Modern Loft in the Heart of the City – Here’s another great loft where you’ll feel exactly like royalty. It’s bright, super spacious and superbly decorated!
Middle-priced (US$85 – US$160)
- Prime location: 31st floor, amazing city views – I can totally recommend this one to all those of you that want to stay in a place with a cozy, local atmosphere. One of the top advantages of staying here is surely the amazing balcony with city views!
- Budget Housing in the Heart of the City – This entire house is super cozy and clean and it’s ideal for up to 2 guests. It has easy check in and check out and it’s located right in the heart of the center.
Budget (up to US$85)
- Crosstown Bedroom Downtown – If you want to be located in a hip neighborhood, this private room in a shared apartment is the right choice. It has some very good prices and an even better service!
- King bed in 2 BR apartment in Chinatown – This small but comfy room is ideal for up to 2 people and it offers free access to a shared bath. Plus, it’s right in the heart of Chinatown, I’m sure you’ll love it!
Best hotels near Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located in Richmond, British Columbia, and it’s around 15 km from Downtown Vancouver, which is basically a 20 minute car ride away. Staying as close to the airport as possible is a great choice for all those of you that have a very early or very late flight, as you’ll get rid of some extra street and maybe get some extra hours of sleep instead, why not?
Below you can find the 3 best hotels near the airport in Vancouver that you can choose from (one for each type of budget):
- (Luxury) Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal Hotel – This is my luxury recommendation for all those of you that want to be as close to the airport as possible. It’s an excellent 5-star property located right INSIDE the airport, so you cannot get closer than this!
- (Middle-priced) River Rock Casino Hotel – This mid-range hotel is ideal for everyone that wants a great value for the money. It awaits with a 4-star service and it’s 3.7 km away from the airport.
- (Budget) Orchid House by Elevate Rooms – Are you on a tight budget? No worries, this cute bed and breakfast 5 km from the airport is the right choice for a comfortable sleep!
Yay, you have reached the end of my complete guide on Vancouver accommodation! I’m sure you’re already an expert by now and maybe you even found your dream hotel thanks to one of my recommendations above, who knows!
In this post I have told you everything you need to know about the 5 best neighborhoods in Vancouver, together with my hand-picked Vancouver hotels that I recommend in each of them. I have also given you some great apartments and airport hotels to choose from, so you basically have everything you need here!
Are you planning a Vancouver vacation soon? Do you have any other questions or concerns? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly help! And if you need more travel inspiration for Canada, you can find all our posts about this awesome country here.
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