Tess Nichol checks into an upmarket hotel that knows how to treat its guests.
Check-in experience: I was the first to arrive in our press group, getting to Vancouver early in the morning. Sadly, my room wasn't ready but I was taken up to the pool and spa area to swim and shower. After my 20-plus hours of travel, it was a welcome relief to move my body around and freshen up. Despite the inconvenience of not having a room right away, the friendliness of the staff, who brought me strawberry water, looked after my bags and took me to a deluxe spa room to change, more than made up for it.
Rooms: The Executive Balcony King Room offers a desk, mini bar and Nespresso coffee machine, comfy couches, a giant bed, TV and a private balcony with city views. Wi-fi is free and reliable.
The bed: Was possibly the most comfortable I have ever slept in. Others in the group felt the same — over dinner the next day we spoke in raptures about how well we slept.
Bathrooms: Granite, gorgeous and stocked with L'Occitane shower essentials nicer than the ones I buy for myself back home.
Robes hang by the glass-encased shower, perfect for post-wash lounging, and a large tub is available for luxurious long soaks.
Food: MARKET by Jean-Georges offers everything from standard breakfast fare to a Picasso-inspired degustation menu. The hotel calls it destination dining and it's easy to see why. Dinner is inventive and delightful, offering four courses from a foie gras starter to a strawberry mousse dessert with a matching cocktail. At breakfast the next day, the complimentary "smoothie of the day", dreamed up by executive chef Ken Nakano, is in itself worth getting out of bed for.
What's in the neighbourhood? Everything downtown Vancouver has to offer. The Shangri-La is perfectly positioned for those who want to explore the city by foot as it is close to nearly all the city's best restaurants and attractions.
Facilities: A small outdoor pool and spa with a few views of the city, although most of it is blocked by surrounding high-rises. There's also a fully-equipped exercise room, which looked fine from the cursory glance I gave it on my way to the spa.
Price: About NZ$536 per night to stay in the Executive Balcony King Room.
Nippers: Are allowed and would love the tiny single-serve ketchup and tabasco bottles served with breakfast — they're like real-life Little Shop toys. For such an upmarket hotel there were a surprising amount of families with young children here, so the Shangri-La clearly accommodates them well.
Would I return? In a heartbeat.
The Shangri-La Hotel is at 1128 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Phone: +1604 689 1120.