Monday, October 27, 2008
Everything Sticky & Sweet: Getting to Vancouver, hotels and restaurant picks
It's Albert from Seattle Gay News. As one of my roommates watches Gossip Girl, I'm beginning our special Madonna blog leading up to Thursday's big show at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium.
Three Seattle Gay News writers - myself, Richard Kennedy, Jessica Price - are heading to Vancouver to capture all the excitement as it happens. We're not only attending the concert, we're cocktailing, shopping, meeting cute Canucks, and joining in on all the fun - like pre and post parties. For those also making the trek to Vancouver, here's information to get you across the border and a short list of hotels and restaurants to check out while you're there.
GETTING TO VANCOUVER
I'm assuming everyone has transportation to-from Vancouver figured out, but if not Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) has daily trips from Seattle at 7:30am with arrival at Pacific Central Station at 10:30am. From the station, you can SkyTrain it to downtown or take bus #23 to Davie Village. You can also reserve coach bus seats to Vancouver via Amtrak. If wanting to carpool, post an ad on Craigslist in the "Community/rideshare" section. A valid passport is the best documentation to have on-hand when entering and exiting Canada, though a birth certificate-photo ID combo works too.
There are lots of hotels in Vancouver to fit everybody's budget, from Best Western to the Four Seasons. But being a frequent visitor to the city, here are four that I highly recommend.
Opus Hotel (www.opushotel.com) is an upscale boutique property located in the Yaletown district with the closest proximity to BC Place Stadium of the four mentioned here. Opus designed its rooms around fictional characters that represent various people in our society, like an outgoing gay male who regularly mixes business with pleasure in Vancouver. Colorfully decorated rooms, comfy beds, large walk-in showers, chic lobby, and style in every corner makes Opus a desired address for A-list celebrities and touring musicians.
Executive Hotel Vintage Park (www.executivehotels.net) is the hotel of choice by one Seattle Gay News writer during his Material Girl-Vancouver stay. Centered in the downtown financial sector, a quick zip via SkyTrain or taxi to the concert venue, this lush property is expressing itself by offering a Madonna Concert Package for $269 + $20 tax per additional person that includes a room with Jacuzzi, shuttle transfer to the stadium (per availability), sparkling white wine upon arrival, and a CD copy of Hard Candy. You'll hear more about this hotel in the following days.
Pacific Palisades (www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com) is South Beach meets Pacific Northwest, or splashy meets natural. A member of the gay-friendly Kimpton Hotels chain, Palisades is home to the twice-held Ginch Gonch underwear pool party during Vancouver Pride. It's fun, it's cool, it's a blend of two complete opposite worlds, and it's in the heart of the city's shopping mecca, Robson Street. What I really love about this property is its sidestreet entrance, allowing my impromptu late night guests to arrive and depart with a bit of discretion.
Metropolitan Hotel (www.metropolitan.com/vanc) is an older property within walking distance to many downtown restaurants and nightlife spots. A lot of gay men stayed here during Pride, enjoying the hotel's indoor pool, hot tub and fitness room looking out to the bustling streets below. The rooms are spacious with big flatscreen TVs, good-sized restrooms, cozy armchairs, and plenty of drawers to place multiple outfits in. And the beds are fabulous!
Cactus Club Cafe (www.cactusclubcafe.com/locations/bc) in the Bentall 5 Centre has become a quick personal favorite and an extremely popular dining attraction for locals and downtown visitors. Opened earlier this year, as part of a Canadian restaurant chain, this place is trendy, sexy, reasonably priced, and the hottest destination for cocktails or a cold pint of regional beer. Mounted flatscreen TVs treat guests to American baseball, Canadian football (yes, there is such a thing), and other sporting events. The food, such as pistachio-encrusted halibut and mouthwatering burgers, is top notch with some items created for Cactus Club by celebrity chef Rob Feenie. There are several locations, but the Bentall restaurant is where it's at.
Italian Kitchen (www.theitaliankitchen.ca) on Alberni Street, minutes from the cluster of hotels and clothing shops, is a newer restaurant with beautiful-looking servers who parade throughout as if it were a Prada runway. The ambiance is warm and sultry, and the food is out of this world. Suggested eats include spaghetti and Kobe meatballs, risotto of the day, fusilli funghi, and the incredible, heaping "meat platter" that is a carnivore's dream come true. Seriously, we ate so much that no room was left for dessert, which I presume was just as delicious.
Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna (no website, 1124 Davie Street) is a well-known dining instution in the West End district of Vancouver, doorsteps away from the gay bars. There's always a line to get in, but surprisingly you'll be seated within 20 to 30 minutes upon arrival. My friends and I ate here during Pride and licked our fingers at how good it was, plus the portions were fit for a king. The beef souvlaki platter was mounted with meat kabobs, warm rice, golden potatoes, veggies, traditional Greek sauces, and a slice of pita bread. A total bang for your American buck!