For my stay in Vancouver, I had booked myself a stay in the EXchange Hotel as I was not sure of the quarantine rules post Covid. Turns out it was not necessary and I could have just booked an AirBNB or stayed at a friend’s apartment. From the airport, it took a while to get to downtown due to traffic but I reached the hotel nearly an hour after departing the airport.
Located 2 blocks from the Waterfront, guests with just a hand carry luggage can reach the hotel via the Skytrain station as the hotel is located on Howe and Pender street with the entrance facing Howe Street. While the hotel has a revolving door on the ground floor, there was a side entrance for guests with bulky luggage. The heritage lobby is beautifully preserved but guest check-in was conducted on the second floor as a Lindt chocolate shop was located in the ground floor lobby. The helpful Concierge staff in this property will assist guests as they were kind enough to help me with my ski bag up. They were also helpful in getting directions around downtown.
Lobby is adequately large and there is a nice lounge beside it to chill. When I arrived, the reception desk was fitted with plastic partitions as part of Covid measures and the lobby was quiet. I was served quickly and check-in was a breeze as the receptionist took my passport and checked for my room, which was ready around noon time. I appreciated the early check-in and the quick process after a long flight, and that might also be due with me booking directly on the hotel’s website. The EXchange hotel is part of the Executive Hotels group, which has several properties in Vancouver and Whistler.
Room No: 627 Category: Boutique Queen
Rooms here are compact hence the boutique naming but they were renovated and nicely designed. Once inside the bathroom was located on the left side of the entryway. For a compact room, the bathroom is actually quite spacious and has very nice fixtures.
The best feature was the large shower stall with a glass partition and no bathtub. The whole space is brightly lit and was comfortable for a long hot shower after a long flight. Amenities provided was pretty nice as they are from L’Occitane and includes antibacterial wipes and shower cap, which is more than what most standard Sheratons and Hiltons offer in North America.
Moving inside the bedroom proper, there was a small nook which was where I fitted in my skis. A large flatscreen TV hangs from the wall with an open clothes hanger with storage on the right. The small queen bed fits snugly beside the closet with a small bedside table at the end.
Hotel invests in smart room technology and guests can control and access the TV and coffee machine using their smartphone by scanning a QR code. Desktop also has an array of power outlets and USB charging ports. The bedside lamps also hosts additional charging ports and power outlets.
Across from the bed was a small alcove where a desk is placed. Underneath the desk, there is a small minibar and an Espresso machine by illy at the top. There is a spherical desk lamp, a telephone and a bull & bear ornament that fits the ‘Stock Exchange’ theme of the hotel. However all these items does take up valuable space in the small desk making it less than ideal for working.
I realized I had forgotten to bring my travel adapter, but I was able to borrow one from the reception. A drawback of this particular room was that it faces the alley and has an irritating droning sound every morning around 6:30am. The view is that of an adjacent office building, giving this room less privacy and making it dim even in the morning. For these reasons, I actually requested a change of rooms and because the hotel was not full, I moved to a slightly larger room that was in the same category on a higher floor.
Room No: 905 Category: Boutique Queen
Second room had a nicer view of Howe St and a wider foyer making it easier to store luggage. Otherwise the bathroom located on the right side of the entryway was about the same size and features the same fittings and amenities.
This larger room provided more space that allowed the bull and bear ornament to be placed separately on the foyer, thus freeing up more space on the desk.
With a larger layout, there was also more space on both sides of the table for 2 nightstands, rather than just one on the previous room. With more lights, it made the room brighter as well.
Still featuring the same open closet, it was located next to the window. The larger window facing the street allowed more daylight and thus made the space brighter and more comfortable overall.
As a boutique hotel, there was limited facilities and their fitness centre is accessible via the stairs in the heritage lobby. Guests need a pass to enter due to Covid restrictions still in place when I visited, as a result, I did not use the fitness centre, since I prefer to take a morning run by the wonderful seawall around downtown Vancouver. A separate male and female changing room was available for guests to use beside the fitness centre.
The basement has access to the hotel parking as well, and I noticed that there was several electric vehicle charging stations for guests planning to drive with electric cars and staying in downtown. Parking was chargeable at $38 per night inclusive of taxes which is quite reasonable.
The hotel also has an on site restaurant called Hydra serving Mediterranean cuisine, and the restaurant is located on the second floor next to the lobby. The menu for the restaurant is easily accessed on the tablet provided in the room or at the console by the elevator lobby on the second floor.
A nice facility for this boutique hotel is the quiet lobby lounge next to the reception area. Due to the small size of the rooms, travellers who have friends over could head to the lounge for a conversation rather than having it in the room. This space features several seating options and is beautifully furnished like the rest of the hotel.
Nightly room rates here ranges from C$130-190++ per night (~$100-148) depending on the day and season. Normally weekday rates in this downtown hotel tends to be higher due to the business nature as the hotel is located in downtown. Winter season would also bring lower rates as tourists tends to be lower in numbers in the city. These rates does not include breakfast though there is a Tim Horton’s and several cafes around the hotel which means it is not difficult to find a place for a simple breakfast.
For a full service hotel, the rates are quite reasonable especially at the lower end. The thought put into the furnishings and and high-end toiletries pitches this hotel at the upscale hotel segment, and is more geared for short 2-3 night stays. The small rooms does mean that it can get uncomfortable for large groups of 3-4 people sharing a room but is perfect for solo travellers on short stays. As a side note I liked the location of this hotel due to its proximity to the sea wall and yet in a quieter section of downtown. It is also walking distance to the Burrard Skytrain station where the buses to Whistler departs from, making it easy for guests wanting to do a day trip to Whistler to ski.