Hotel Intel: rock and relax in Vancouver’s hip Belmont

The indie getaway has a vending machine that dispenses papers, and a late-night takeout menu of coconut shrimp and s’mores sundaes.

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“The appeal of Belmont has nothing to do with age,” said Jeff Leung, general manager of Hotel Belmont, a new boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver. “It’s all about mindset. It’s casual and fun, an insider’s place.”

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Leung is calling all urban adventurers to the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district. Funky Granville St. bustles with day-trippers and nighttime lights, and is dotted with coffee shops and clubs, pubs and patios and plenty of shops. Imagine the Vancouver version of St-Laurent Blvd. or Toronto’s Queen of King St. W., but as crowded with walkers as Times Square.

The place: The pandemic took its toll on Vancouver’s venues, but Hotel Belmont is still a vibrant scene for music, drinks and delicious comfort food.

You may want to indulge in Belmonteroni pasta, a riff on ravioli, followed by key lime pie pavlova. Or maybe your taste goes for a Belmont Boozy frozen treat flavored like a jalapeño mango margarita.

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“The hotel attracts people who are looking for a good cultural time,” says Leung. “We pride ourselves on knowing the scene so we can guide you to a true in-the-know experience.”

Basically, you’re meant to chill. Hotel Belmont is an indie getaway with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe, a vending machine that dispenses papers and, if you’re up for midnight, a late-night takeout menu of coconut shrimp and s’mores sundaes.

Hotel Belmont is located in the heart of Vancouver's entertainment district.
Hotel Belmont is located in the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district. Photo by Hotel Belmont

The look: The decor of Hotel Belmont is a nice pastiche of retro furniture. Created by Vancouver-based CHIL Interior Design, it’s a bit kitsch, definitely cool, and far from traditional.

The exterior is painted bright pink and covered with posters announcing performances from the past and the future.

The entrance to the Living Room resto-bar is littered with graffiti, but as soon as you step inside, the look relaxes in a welcoming rainbow of colors on high tables, bar stools and booths. For more intimate gatherings, there are cozy nooks with couches around gas fireplaces.

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The 82 rooms and bathrooms are clean and fresh. Skoah Vancouver toiletries are blended with peppermint oil, giving them an energizing, refreshing feel. And most rooms have mini-fridges built to look like 1960s Marshall amps, so you’re never far from musical inspiration.

eat drink: The Living Room is a casual resto-bar where, “unlike at your parents’ home, you can eat in front of the TV,” says Ted Wilkie, director of food and beverages.

You can start with cocktails such as the Sloe Sipper or try sangria, sake, mezcal or bourbon, then enjoy bar bites such as wings, poutine or pulled pork tacos, or main courses such as veggie bowls, burgers, pasta or chicken satay. Desserts, a sweet tooth highlight, including cookies and cream cheesecake or warm double chocolate chip cookies.

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At The Basement, Belmont’s neon-lit club, DJs spin house and top 40 music, including hits from Justin Bieber, Drake and the Weeknd and mixes from hip-hop producer DJ Khaled. The nightly dance parties – some of the best in Van City – have been suspended due to COVID rules.

The Basement has a bowling alley and arcade games from the old days, so you can have a drink and play a round of five-pin or tackle pinball, skee-ball and video games.

The rooms and suites at the Belmont Hotel in Vancouver are modern with retro touches.
The rooms and suites at the Belmont Hotel in Vancouver are modern with retro touches. Photo by Henry Low

Near: You need breakfast and lunch. Railtown Café has generous portions and reasonable prices. For now it is only open for pickup and delivery. Breakfast consists of smoothies, egg sandwiches or quiche; for lunch there are salads and club sandwiches. (968 Howe St.; 604-428-8255, railtowncafe.ca; closed on weekends and holidays; vegan available.)

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At the Rogers Arena, the Vancouver Canucks’ home games include the Toronto Maple Leafs (December 18), the Ottawa Senators (January 8) and the Montreal Canadiens (March 9). The Bryan Adams New Year’s Eve Extravaganza will rock the arena on December 31.

BC Place hosts mega events such as Canada Sevens men’s rugby, returning on February 26 and 27. Don’t forget the tradition of fancy dress – the crazier, the better. And tickets are selling fast for Elton John’s farewell tour, which ends at the venue on October 21, 2022.

At the legendary Commodore Ballroom, the lineup includes indie rock band Mother Mother (December 2-5) and electronic duo Thievery Corporation (December 6-7).

The Belmont lends bicycles and a bike path right outside the door takes you to the stylish Yaletown neighborhood and the bike path along the waterfront False Creek Seawall.

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The living room at Hotel Belmont.
The living room at Hotel Belmont. Photo by Hotel Belmont

if you go

Hotel Belmont: 604-605-4333, hotelbelmont.ca; 654 Nelson Street, Vancouver. Pet friendly.

Prices fluctuate; rooms start at $169, including bicycles, guest computer, Wi-Fi, premium movie channels, business services, in-room coffee, PressReader, interactive concierge. Extra: Fitness World, a few blocks away.

The Living Room resto-bar: 4pm to 3am Wed-Sun. (Belmont guests get a 15 percent discount on food); The Basement: DJs, 9pm to 3am, Fri-Sat.

Vancouver Tourism: 604-682-2222, destinationvancouver.com. Tourism British Columbia: hellobc.com.

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