Travel

Spaces within places: a stay at the DOUGLAS hotel

Inspired by the trees that line the misty mountains of Vancouver’s coastal rainforest, the DOUGLAS offers a multi-faceted city escape

Honey Salt’s flower-thonged outdoor patio (Photo: Ben Powless)
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A faint fragrance of cedar wafts down the corridor as you make your weary way to your hotel room. Maybe you’ve just gotten off a plane after a day of traveling; maybe you’ve had a full day exploring the sights of Vancouver. Either way, your quiet room at the DOUGLAS, a hotel within a hotel at the Parq Vancouver casino resort, offers comfortable respite from the bustling world outside.

A DIY cocktail kit awaits — Douglas fir-infused gin, botanical-infused bitters, club soda and a green and gold spruce tip wedged into a glass bottle — but so too does a king-sized bed with a plushy duvet, backed with a warmly-lit wooden headboard. I opt for the latter, just a quick shut-eye, before padding across a carpet reminiscent of tree rings to the wonderful walk-in rain shower. The window to my room steams up with a luxurious mist. With the faint tang of pine in the air, the vibe evokes the clouds snaking round the forested roots of Vancouver’s coastal mountains. It’s easy to see why the DOUGLAS made the MICHELIN Guide’s hotel selection last year.

Dinner choices abound at Parq Vancouver. Hearty eats at pastel-toned Honey Salt. Contemporary steak and seafood overlooking the city at The Victor. Asian comfort food at The Noodle Bar at Koi. Wings while catching the game at Centre Bar. The list goes on. But I’ve arrived pretty late, and I choose room service instead. Spicy kimchi-fried rice it is — topped with crunchy belly pork, a soft poached egg, umami seaweed and toasty sesame seeds. It fills a hole, and I’m ready for a recce.

The elevator, an illusion of iridescent incandescent light bulbs, is reminiscent of the hall of mirrors fight scene from John Wick 2 (but with less assassin and more yassss). I wander downstairs to check out the D/6 Bar & Lounge — it’s a Saturday night and it is bumping. There’s a line-up and slickly-dressed security who usher through elegantly dressed 30-somethings primed for a drink and a dance. One of the bartenders shows me what lies beyond the secret door hidden by a bookcase: a bar within a bar within the hotel within a hotel. Golden chandeliers look down upon a black and white checkered floor; in between, floor-to-ceiling windows offer views over the city. (This secret bar can be hired for private events).

A dark wooden bookcase swings forwards to reveal a hidden room.
Step through a secret door to discover a private fully-stocked bar. (Photo: Abi Hayward)
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Sitting at the outside bar, I sip a mango daiquiri brûlée (white rum, mango, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white), garnished with mango that has been caramelized in front of me with a blowtorch. On the menu, the drink is accompanied by a botanical drawing of the plant, Mangifera indica, that produces the mango fruit celebrated in this cocktail (the zoology nerd in me doesn’t correct their incorrect capitalization of the Latin binomial name: genus should be capitalized; species should be lowercase). Behind me, everyone’s merry (there’s a dance circle happening in front of the DJ booth); in front, a view of the city skyline, a glowing Microsoft logo against a sun-drained sky.

As much as it would be fun to stay, I am that weary traveller. And my quiet hotel room is calling.

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