March 14, 1972 seemed like it would be any other day, but then Howard Hughes showed up.
Demanding full reign of the top floors of the Westin Bayshore (then called the Bayshore Inn), Hughes reportedly threatened to buy the hotel if the service staff did not comply. Needless to say, everything was arranged, and the billionaire began a six-month stay in the hotel’s three-room penthouse, never seen outside of his room even as the paparazzi tried everything they could to get a shot of him. It was the elusive Hughes’s second-last home before he died.
Today, that penthouse—now officially called the Howard Hughes Suite—can be rented out for those looking for the most private, extravagant experience in the hotel. Even for guests who stay elsewhere on property, though, there is plenty to flap your wings about.
Debuted in 1961, this comfortable Coal Harbour hotel is located right on Vancouver’s iconic Seawall, with most rooms and suites overlooking the beautiful marina and ocean. Truly, these views are unparalleled.
In-room, luxurious mattresses with 10-inch-thick pillow tops and covered in 250-thread-count sheets mean that sleep comes easily. (Although, a travel-size lavender essential oil roll-on is at the ready bedside if a little extra encouragement is needed.) Starbucks coffee is always available, as are the soft-smelling White Tea by Westin bath amenities. If cozying up in an Executive Suite—a beautifully large space with two washrooms, seating area, and dining area—be sure to wrap in a robe and enjoy some wine on the couch, or stare out at the bobbing boats below and simply take it all in.
Room service can be ordered from the hotel’s new H2 Rotisserie & Bar, but dining at the restaurant itself is also a worthy experience. Live music on the patio is a great way to feel romantic, though the interior space is also gorgeous, with contemporary and mid-century furniture weaved beautifully together. The rotisserie Maple Hills Farms chicken is the star of the show, available in quarter, half, or whole with a selection of comforting sides including roasted fingerling potatoes, steamed vegetables, onion rings, and grilled asparagus. Or there is beautiful steak, served with a whole grilled tomato, truffle mashed potatoes, and choice of sauce (go for the herb chimichurri). A fine selection of local beer rounds out the offering, along with cocktails such as the Gold Rush Inn, opulently accented with gold flakes. At brunch, smoothies and juices from The Juicery are a great way to start off, followed perhaps by a beautiful pulled chicken hash, served with potatoes, sweet corn, bell peppers, onion, and eggs done any way. There is also a burger, juicy and classic, served with a side of addictingly crispy fries. Dessert, especially the carrot cake, is good any time of day.
Those of us not as camera-shy as Howard Hughes can also enjoy the hotel’s circular outdoor pool, complete with unicorn floaties and ample lounge chairs. There is a bar right on the deck—order a blended mezcal margarita—making it easier than ever to enjoy sips while dipping in and out of the warm water. Paired with a light snack of grilled flatbread and a trio of Mediterranean dips, it is an impossibly easy way to float the day by.
More relaxation can be had at the onsite Vida Spa, with a beautiful lounge for reclining with a cup of tea before treatments. Everything from manicures to facials can be had here, but a 60-minute tension massage is a sure winner, with the masseuse going as deep as one hopes and even offering up a sheet with some shoulder exercises to take home.
Those looking for something a little more active can take part in RunWESTIN, which offers guided group jogs, and YogaWESTIN classes outside at Cardero Park or on floating mats in the pool (called, fittingly, Liquid Yoga; think of it as paddleboard yoga without the open ocean). For light packers, there is a special New Balance Gear Lending program that lets guests rent apparel and runners for the day. And dog owners can revel in the fact that pups can stay at the Bayshore for no extra charge, and find a bed, food dish, and water dish waiting in-room at arrival.
So even for those not staying in the Howard Hughes Suite, the Westin Bayshore is a resort of sophistication, seclusion, and service, all the while being within walking distance to the bustling Robson Street and English Bay. Here, even those of us who don’t consider ourselves masters of aviation will feel like we’re flying high.