Review: The Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The Westin Bayshore is Vancouver’s second most historic luxury hotel behind the Fairmont Vancouver railway hotel, previously owned by Canadian Pacific Hotels. The Westin Bayshore has been in operation since March 27, 1961, and is recently celebrating its 60th years anniversary. It has hosted some famous guests including Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, Price Charles and the late Lady Diana Spencer and was even home to eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes who resided in the hotel for six months. After visiting at many locations in the city, we opted for a stay at the Westin Bayshore for a recent visit.
Hotel Review: The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
“One of Vancouver’s most historic hotels, the Westin Bayshore blends the nature of Stanley Park, the scenery of the waterfront, and the convenience of being on the city’s 28 kilometre sea wall”
There are several Marriott Hotels in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. If you’re looking for another Vancouver property, please see our reviews of the JW Marriott Parq, The Sheraton Wall Centre and the Westin Bayshore.
Planning and Getting There:
The rates for the Westin Bayshore usually command a substantial sum in the summer. Thanks to it’s great waterfront location in Vancouver right on the waterfront and being nearby to Stanley Park, its typically a popular place.
Thanks to no Alaskan cruise ship travellers in Vancouver this year as a result of the pandemic, rates this spring were much cheaper. Indeed, rates were very soft on the weekend rates and was able to grab a rate in January for a stay later in April for $149 CAD ($124 USD) a night. The rates here are typically upwards of $300 CAD per night in the summer months and a good rate would closer to $200 CAD.
It’s also worth noting that if you are booking rooms at this property, there are two buildings that make up the Westin Bayshores. The “Main” building, which is the original low rise structure built in 1962, and the twenty floor “Tower” built in 1970. While the “Main” building has a North – South building orientation with rooms facing West and East (water facing), the Tower has a 360 degree orientation, meaning that North / West / East rooms face the water, whereas South facing rooms face the sky scrapers of the West End.
The Westin Bayshore Hotel is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 6, meaning that rooms are approximately between 40,000 – 60,000 a night under variable pricing, with 50,000 pints a night as standard. If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.005 a point, you’d have to spend more than $250 USD to come out ahead for a 50,000 point redemption. In the summer, this might represent a better value when the room rates climb beyond $300 USD per night or perhaps if you’ve visiting Vancouver on a cruise ship Friday or Saturday night when hotel inventory in Vancouver completely sells out thanks to those Alaskan cruise ship travellers. However, if you’re visiting in the off season, you’re much better paying cash. As a result, we ended up paying cash for two nights, earning Double Elite Qualifying Nights and Double Marriott Bonvoy Points on the “Better Two Together” spring Marriott Bonvoy promotion.
Suite Night Awards:
As the second pandemic year went on, it was looking more and more like I wasn’t going to be able to travel anywhere internationally or domestically for work. With several Suite Night Awards burning a hole in my Marriott Bonvoy account, I decided to put down some suite night awards against the reservation on the room. Marriott Suite Night Awards are for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium or Ambassador members and can be used to upgrade to a selected room in the suite (or almost suite) category confirming it 5 days in advance of arrival.
The Westin Bayshore hotel has quite a bit of inventory in the suite night award category. Some of it is really good, whereas other selections seem to be a little junky. I ended up only selecting the Panoramic Suite and the Lanai Suite as the other options didn’t look all to interesting.
At about the 4 day mark, our Suite Night Awards were cleared into a Panoramic Suite. While we were able to get a $629 CAD ($519 USD) room for $149 CAD ($125 USD) is always a treat, the room itself was also a nice use of Suite Night Awards.
Arriving to the Westin Bayshore:
1601 Bayshore Dr., Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4
The property has a prime location. It’s situated right on the water in a mostly residential neighbourhood, with the Vancouver’s twenty eight kilometre sea wall running in front of the hotel, with Stanley Park (among the largest city parks in North America) to it’s immediate left, spectacular mountain views to it’s North across the water, and downtown about a fifteen minute walk to it’s east. As a result, this spot represents almost everything that is Vancouver and the Pacific North West in one location.
Being Vancouver residents, we self drove over to the property. Although it’s an older property, it’s been well maintained, given it’s prime real estate location.
We led ourselves into reeception. We had a bit of a wait at check in, even though there were three staff working.
During our check in, we were given the option of self parking at $41 CAD per night. We were going to park at the nearby Marriott Pinnnacle but the parking rate had gone up there and was now $36 CAD. For the $10 savings, we just opted for the convenience of parking locally, along with the “in and out” privileges.
During our check in process, we were thanked for our loyalty as Marriott Titanium level members. As a nice touch, we were offered the choice of two available room assignments in a Panoramic or Lanai suites. We were offered one Panoramic Suite on the 20th (top) floor with a south west orientation, facing over the West End and Stanley park, or a Lanai Suite on the 19th floor with smaller lanai balcony but facing the North Shore Mountains with no outdoor space. We opted for the Panoramic Suite on the top floor, and ended up being really happy with the room.
In terms of a Marriott Bonvoy Welcome Gift for it’s elite members, as Marriott Titanium’s, we were offered points or a breakfast option. The breakfast option during the pandemic was an offer of room service breakfast consisting of a entree + beverage with a waived delivery fee, or an offer of breakfast at the restaurants pop up restaurant “On the Drive” consisting also of an entree + beverage. We ended up taking the breakfast option instead of the 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy welcome points, and received two vouchers that we could use at either location.
The Lobby Reception and Check In were situated in the Main building. We led ourselves over to the Tower, which is a very short walk through a connected walkway. Being that we were staying within the pandemic, many of the lobby restaurants and retail outlets were closed by Provincial Health Order. As a result, the lobby looks a little quieter than it would during normal times.
The Room: A Panoramic Suite
One Bedroom Larger Suite, 1 King, Sofa Bed, Bathrooms 2, Harbour View, Tower
We led ourselves up to the twentieth floor and the top floor of the Tower building through a key carded elevator. We headed up to our assigned Panoramic Suite Room #2084.
The Panoramic Suites likely started off life as two separate rooms that have been joined through the removal of adjoining doors. Despite being older rooms, they are actually quite generously sized by modern day standards.
Upon entry into the room, we found yourselves entering into a small passage way between the two rooms.
In the Suite Entry hallway, there was a coffee station over top of a mini fridge. There was also a water station with ice bucket, with two bottles of local water.
The Panoramic Living Room:
Stepping out of the entry hallway, we immediately ended up in the living room and the corner “panoramic space”. The room featured a contemporary refreshed carpet in white and blues. There was a sofa and two chairs for entertaining. The couches were typically firm, and along with hotel furniture, was more built for industrial standards instead of actual comfortable sitting and relaxing.
The room also featured a sofa bed in a Murphy bed styled wall unit. The wall unit was a little imposing in a teak brown color, but fortunately, it wasn’t a focal point of the room. There was also a small suitcase stand space built in the wall unit.
For those relaxing on the couch and not looking outside, the room featured a desk and flat screen television.
Immediately off the living room, the panoramic suite living room featured a full bathroom including a stand up rain shower. The ensuite off of the living room had a somewhat small counter space by the sink, but was perfectly fine for an ensuite bathroom.
As if a sofa and two chairs and coffee tables were not enough entertainment space in a well featured room, there was also a chaise lounger by the window. The window featured a world class view.
The Panoramic Living Room featured a wrap around deck. There were two padded and comfortable loungers on the bed with excellent South and West facing views towards Stanley Park and Coal Harbour.
A Separate One Bedroom:
Heading over to the bedroom, the Panoramic Suite had a large king sized Westin Heavenly Bed. The bedroom was in a completely separate room, consistent with a true suite configuration.
The bedroom was rounded out by a chair lounger and coffee table combination, along with a corner reading light.
The bedroom also featured a combination desk, chest of drawers and room fridge. There was also a flat screen television that allowed for television viewing from bed.
The integrated desk cabinets featured a half sized fridge and the usual in room safe. Bottled Water was available in the bedroom, in addition to an ice bucket.
The bedroom featured a secondary deck, although this particular one was not a “wrap around” variety. It featured exclusively south facing views towards the high rise residential neighbourhood known in Vancouver as “The West End”
Just off the bedroom was the bedroom ensuite bathroom. The ensuite bathroom was a second full bathroom, featuring the usual Westin Shower. There was a bit more counter space here, which became the space to store all bathroom toiletries.
For those that were interested, the floor layout of the twentieth and top floor of the Westin Bayshore Tower was as follows:
MrsWT73 had her comments about the room. She specially called the room “old” but that the location of the hotel was the best.
The Panoramic Suite room was not the best suite night upgrade we’ve ever used (that award goes to the JW Marriott Los Cabos) but it was better than letting the Suite Night Awards go to waste. It was pretty cool to think that we were staying in the same room level as royalty and likely other VIP dignitaries that have stayed here over the years as well. I couldn’t help but notice the ever so cool Howard Hughes Suite on the opposite side of the floor, that was immediately opposite to our room. It was likely the same Panoramic configuration as this suite we stayed in as described above.
Features of the Hotel:
We were give the opportunity to redeem breakfast vouchers towards breakfast courtesy of Marriott Titanium status. These vouchers were either redeemable for the hotel’s pop up “On the Drive” restaurant, or for room service. At the time of our visit, for it Marriott Elite members, the hotel was offering one full entrée and one beverage for it’s elite breakfast benefit.
At the time of our visit, the Province of British Columbia was under a pandemic health order that only allowed dining in outdoor or patio space, or restaurant take aways. All indoor dining was prohibited. As a result, the hotel offered dining at “On the Drive”, a socially distanced pop up restaurant, which was situated immediately adjacent to their lobby arrival area. While it was in a covered area, there isn’t much ambience in dining in dead space at the conference center entrance.
At check in, we were given the breakfast menu for the pop up restaurant. Seating at “Off the Drive” was limited by space and offered on a first come, first serve basis. As Marriott Titanium members, we were given the opportunity to order any item on the menu (not limited to continental offerings) to enjoy at the restaurant Off the Drive.
While we had all great intentions of enjoying breakfast in the restaurant setting of the pop up Off the Drive, we ended up ordering room service on both mornings of our stay. The menu for In Room Dining room service was a slightly less exciting version of Off the Drive, missing Avocado Toast and Eggs Benedict, among other things.
On the first day, I was able to order Avocado Toast off the Off the Drive menu as room service without any issue. However, on the second day, the staff taking my order got wise to this and when I went to order some scrumptious Eggs Benedict, I was limited to the Room Service menu which was substantially less exciting. As a result, I settled for Two Eggs any Style, served with Bacon, Hashbrowns and Grilled Tomato and Toast.
Still, the breakfast was tasty and delivered within twenty minutes as ordered. On both days, our room service breakfast order came to $67.94 CAD ($56 USD) including the taxes; provided courtesy of our Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status.
Around the Hotel:
During our stay, we used the outdoor pool. While the pool doesn’t have any modern or new features like an infinity edge, or integrated waterfall, it does have an exceptional mature growth garden making for a beautiful setting for an outdoor deck and pool area.
The outdoor pool did have a surprisingly deep section at one part of the pool, making it an area where you’d have to strongly supervise children, if you were out here.
The hotel offers an indoor pool that was more popular with the children. It was deserted while we were there. It also featured an indoor hot tub that was equally deserted. While indoor pools aren’t normally too exciting, this one had a floor to ceiling window view of the Vancouver Sea Wall that ran along the side of the hotel.
During our visit, the hotel was celebrating it’s sixtieth anniversary. The hotel had a feature in the lobby that had a display of some of the hotels’ memorabilia. These included state invitations from Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the late Prince Phillip, including photographs of Prince Charles and the Late Lady Diana Spencer on another visit. It was an interesting feature of the hotel to be staying in an environment with so much history.
Around the hotel:
The hotel is situated directly on the Vancouver sea wall between the city and Stanley Park. The Hotel offered two free hours of bike rental with every stay, although there were only 4 bikes out front when we were staying in the spring. While we didn’t get to take advantage of the bike rental, we did get out for a walk towards the city. The Vancouver Sea Wall is one of the best features of the city, and it’s worth walking a portion of it while you stay at the Westin Bayshore.
The hotel is also very close to Lift Restaurant and Cardero’s Bar and Grill, both of which are independent restaurants less than 70 steps from the hotel.
The hotel is situated about 5 minutes by car / taxi from the Cruise Ship Terminal or about 17 kilometres walk. While it’s not the most ideally located for cruise ship traffic, the location on the water is almost unparalleled by Vancouver hotels. For visitors to Vancouver that are here on business, one of the more centrally located hotels such as the Sheraton Wall Centre Vancouver is probably a more convenient choice.
My Thoughts on the Westin Bayshore:
The Westin Bayshore is a premium Vancouver hotel that is perfect for first time leisure visitors to the city. It is situated in a unique world class location, with water on almost three sides of the hotel, in addition to the absolutely massive Stanley Park right next door. The twenty eight kilometre Vancouver Sea Wall runs right past the hotel and is a great feature to have. Although the property is a little older, it’s perfect for a leisure stay if recreation is in your schedule. If you’re visiting Vancouver for the first time, this is the hotel that you’d want to stay at, in order to take advantage of everything that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.