Winter is a busy season around the Pacific Northwest. The museums, restaurants, and theaters in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, and Portland keep both locals and visitors entertained. Over on Vancouver Island’s west coast, you can curl up with a mug of tea or your favorite whiskey and watch the waves roll in across the Pacific. So when you’re looking for a place to lay your head in the Northwest this winter, consider these top five luxe hotels.
Headed to Vancouver over the next few months? Book an upper-floor room at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Fairmont Pacific Rim, a sleek, Asian-inspired tower downtown with views of the snow-topped North Shore Mountains.
During the winter, the luxury hotel’s restaurant, ORU, showcases a menu of ceviche delights (humpback shrimp escabeche and Sawmill Bay oyster Caeser) and main entrees (wild line-caught salmon and uni).
Bonus: The city’s best ice cream shop, Bella Gelateria, is just outside the hotel entrance. While new flavors are introduced every day, recent seasonal varieties have included black sesame hot chocolate and salted Moroccan caramel. And for more foodie fun, visit Vancouver during the annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival, which runs from January 17 through February 2, 2014.
An easy stroll from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, this 64-room boutique hotel boasts an excellent location for a weekend (or more) in British Columbia’s capital city. You can walk to the shops such as Smoking Lily and Suasion on Lower Johnson Street, or savor a posh holiday tea at the nearby Fairmont Empress Hotel. Even in winter, you can visit the expansive Butchart Gardens, which feature seasonal flowers such as snowdrops and hellebore and twinkle with festive lights. Back at the Magnolia, choose a room on the sixth or seventh floor if you’re planning on cocooning; not only do these units have the best city vistas, but they also come with warm and welcoming fireplaces.
Set in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, the stylish Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is a quick hop from Seattle Center, an entertainment venue that hosts theatrical productions (Richard II, January 15 to February 2), mega concerts (Justin Timberlake, January 17) and sporting events (Seattle University vs. CSU Bakersfield, January 16). Just next to the hotel, stop by the Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar to sample Pacific Northwest seafood, or head over to the buzzing restaurants such as Tavolàta in nearby Belltown. You don’t need to worry about getting your feet wet while exploring either; the luxury hotel’s complimentary town car service will deliver you directly to your downtown destination.
Perched on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this secluded Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star lodge makes a lovely escape any time of year, but in winter, guests come for storm watching. Both the window-lined Pointe Restaurant and all 75 of the rustic-chic guest rooms face the ocean or the beach where the Pacific surf often comes crashing. Should you venture outdoors, the inn provides rain gear and boots, as well as coffee, tea, and cocoa to refresh you after your adventures. Indoors, take a yoga class or book the Hishuk Ish Tsawalk Awakening Treatment, based on traditional cleansing rituals of the West Coast’s indigenous people, at the Four-Star Ancient Cedars Spa. Note: The Wick closes for annual maintenance through January 24.
If you have shopping on your schedule, remember that Oregon has no sales tax, making the fun and funky city of Portland a great value for winter retail therapy. The art-filled Westin Portland Hotel — a Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property conveniently located just a block from Nordstrom — is also a short stroll from the Pearl District, home to lots of one-of-a-kind shops such as Alchemy and Babette. Also in the Pearl is the well-regarded Portland Center Stage repertory theater, which is producing the hilarious international comedy, Chinglish (written by David Henry Hwang), through February 9. Once you’ve sufficiently navigated the surrounding area, head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep, but don’t forget to snag a peek at the original Pablo Picasso etching that hangs in the lobby.
Photos Courtesy of The Magnolia Hotel and Spa, VFM Leonardo Inc and Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts