**Update: March 27, 2015
Well, since I wrote this back in 2011, The Waldorf has shut down, and reopened again. It was at one point slated to become condos, but clearly that didn't happen, so the hotel and bar open once again. I haven't been there under the current arrangement, but the nightly rate is low. They'll clearly have to build their reputation up again, but I'd be willing to give it a go at some point. Original article below:
It's about high time that Vancouver got a cool boutique hotel. Sure Vancouver has some nice boutique hotels like The Opus Hotel, or The St. Regis Hotel, but we haven't found that grunge meets approachable chic thing that has been done so well in Toronto with Queen Street West's Drake or Gladstone Hotels.
While The Waldorf is no Ritz, it is not intended to be. This is a fun community space that is part cafe, part restaurant, part live music joint, part lounge, and part hotel.
Walking into the Waldorf feels like entering 60's California. Light pastel colours, teak furniture, wood panelling, and palm trees.
The new owners of The Waldorf have renovated in a way that has left many parts of the original hotel intact. I was a little concerned when I heard about the Tiki theme, but upon seeing the finished product it is fun and not over the top in most areas. The restaurant and cafe are mildly Tiki with a tropical ocean-side inspired menu. The wine list is adorned with a range of interesting South American and Spanish wines like Tannat and Tempranillo.
The hotel rooms are retro-cool and a little reminiscent of the Ace Hotel boutique chain. They feature massive 80's stereo tape decks with mix tapes rather than CD players, and Native plastic shoes instead of slippers. Room rates are to start around $89 and will offer an alternative place to stay for those looking for someplace affordable and an alternative to the big chain hotels. The location is a little off the beaten path, but close enough to Downtown by cab, or 20-30min walk. Commercial Drive is also very close. It is central enough to use for business given that you allow a few extra minutes to get to work.
Downstairs is the Cabaret area and bar for live music performances and larger events, and upstairs, in a previously boarded up part of the hotel, there is the Waldorf Tiki Bar, which has been preserved in its original state with only a few touch-ups. This is perhaps the only part of the hotel that is over-the-top, but it is authentic in its tackiness.
Overall I like the Waldorf. It's a refreshing change to the Sheratons and the Deltas that are prevalent in Downtown Vancouver. While it may not be for everyone it would certainly make a fun place to spend the night on a personal or business visit to Vancouver.
The Waldorf Hotel 604.253.7141 firstname.lastname@example.org 1489 East Hastings Vancouver, BC, Canada V5L 1S4.
Chris Stenberg is a creative director, photographer, filmmaker, and traveller. In his spare time you can find him biking and boarding in the mountains of British Columbia.