Telephone: +1 604-669-5060
Get more info....
Rostra rating: 3.5
One of the themes for our Big Adventure is Boutique Hotels: Better than Big or Ballyhooed BS? Team Mago’s first stop was the Loden Hotel in Vancouver BC. In general, we had a very pleasant stay, but there were some problems that made the per night charge including all the taxes of $563 Canadian a bit steep (even taking into account the favorable samolian-to-loony exchange rate).
First the good
The Staff: With a couple exceptions (see below), Loden employees were extremely friendly and helpful. The front desk hotties were clothed in designer frocks instead of uniforms and sported coordinated turquoise nail polish as well as a mélange of alluring foreign accents. There was no problem arranging a late checkout. When Patti scrutinized the bill and discovered that the charge for a beer from the mini-bar was missing, the receptionist just smiled and winked. In addition to storing our bags post-checkout, we were offered the shower facilities in the fitness center for use prior to catching our evening train.
Even more helpful were the bellhop hunks, also festooned in upscale dress and eager to tote our impedimenta everywhere. Our MagoGuide shout out for the Loden staff goes to Reese from Brisbane Australia, who not only schlepped our heavy bags (thoughtfully tagged as such by Amtrak) with youthful indifference but also drove us to the train station and regaled us with witty and useful anecdotes throughout our stay.
The Room: Our digs were very comfortable and nicely appointed in not-too-daring Canadian modern decor. The room featured a wall o’glass with a window that actually opened, as well as a cool sliding wooden wall partition between the sleeping area and the bathroom that opened up the space during periods of non-ablution. While the view was hardly spectacular, it was serviceable (better views were on offer for more ducats of course) and, most importantly, the room was dead quiet at night with the window closed.
The Gym: The staff had clearly been instructed to push the free fitness center, which turned out to be a solid B+ mini-gym with the usual weight and cardio tech, to include some weird looking elliptical machines that we eschewed for long walks in beautiful Vancouver. Its most unusual feature was the light and heavy punching bags (no gloves in evidence, but I am sure that Reese could have rounded some up (hah!!)).
The Location: The Loden is superbly located in downtown Vancouver, minutes from many attractions, very close to Sky Train terminals, and less than a mile from the Via Rail Canada station (inexplicably called “the Amtrak station” by locals—even though most of them do not seem to know what Amtrak is). Over the course of three days we circumnavigated the sea wall esplanade, explored the vastness of Stanley Park, and wandered over to Granville Island and the Maritime Museum, amongst many other venues.
Useful free stuff: For those less inclined to walk, the Loden offers a free car drop off service anywhere in downtown Vancouver. The best thing about this service is the car itself, a genuine replica of a London taxi, specially built for left hand drive and kept in immaculate condition (Reese said the rig was ten years old, but it looked and smelled brand new). The Loden also has a bunch of free bicycles for guests to check out, and Vancouver is even more bike-friendly than Portland.
The Restaurant: The Loden is collocated with the Tableau Bar Bistro, a popular spot (to judge by its table occupancy rate at lunch and dinner) serving (what else?) traditional French bistrot fare. Team Mago was in Vancouver to dine on the bounty of the orient, so we eschewed the food, but found the Tableau Bar very convivial. We drank a very potable saison for a night cap and had a great time chatting with the bar tender (neither of us can remember his name, there may have been alcohol involved), who turned out to be supplementing his school teacher day job, and whose parents live in Portland.
Now the Bad
It was pretty much my fault, but it should not have been my problem. I was replacing my laptop in the room safe prior to heading out for the day and failed utterly to heed techspouse’s admonition to place the device so as not to jam the door when I entered the opening code. Upon doing so, the safe door jammed in closed mode. I called the front desk and the Eastern European accented turquoise hottie assured me that she would send maintenance immediately. She wasn’t kidding. Our doorbell rang within five minutes.
Maintenance dude correctly diagnosed the problem and then proceed to beat the living shit out of the safe door. He took a break and asked me if there was anything valuable in the safe. Before I could muster the wit to say something like “Oh hell no, we wouldn’t put anything expensive or important in a safe, moron!!” He was back at it until his hand hurt so much that he decided it was time to go get “some suction cups”. Patti waited until he left the room and then used a corkscrew to open the safe. I later decided that was its purpose since all the wine bottles in the mini-bar were twist tops.
The maintenance guy returned as we were examining the scratches on the laptop case and booting it up to make sure it still worked (it did, or I would be in husband hell right now). The repair drone looked very disappointed because it turned out that he had found the key thingie that actually opens the safe under just such circumstances. I thanked him and eschewed the temptation to ask why he had not shown up with the damn thing in the first place. He did not get a tip, however.
Also on the bad side… no in-room coffee. This put us at a serious disadvantage in the thinking department first thing in the morning.
And Finally the Ugly
The breakfast at the Tableau Bar Bistro sucks, not to put too fine a point on it. It is billed as “continental” and runs $18.50 Canadian. What you actually get is worse than the free Holiday Inn Express breakfast bar with a refresh rate that is measured in geological time. Oh and the “server” acted like it was an amazing imposition to round us up a couple bowls and some coffee. After waiting ten minutes for her to reappear we walked out. Even at a favorable exchange rate, the Loden’s breakfast amounts to culinary robbery. If I had been a UK citizen, however, our Lodexit would have been a lot louder and uglier.