My room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim seems to hover over Coal Harbour. From my king bed, and from the deep soaking tub in the bathroom, I watch sea planes and sailboats glide through the pewter water. The hills of British Columbia’s North Vancouver, Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge are cloaked in a drizzly fog.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim ooze luxury, from the grand lobby’s marble floors and oversized fireplace to the spa’s private terrace with a swimming pool, Jacuzzis and fire pits. The rooms skew modern-minimalist, with floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in the view, sleek wood furnishings and bedside touch screens for controlling lighting and window treatments.
Whether you’re an overnight guest or just looking for a great dining option in Vancouver, the hotel’s Botanist bar and restaurant seriously raise the bar for hotel eats. In the bar, guests can order from a spectacular cocktail menu that includes categories like “Flowers + Trees” and “Herb + Spice” (read more about that in Sip Northwest‘s Winter 2018 issue). The descriptions — “Fleeting moments in time, locked between a sun-drenched Earth and a resplendent sky, which a photograph will never fully capture” reads one — can be a bit high-minded, but the proof is in the punch. Every sip is well-balanced and nuanced.
And then there’s the “Cocktail Lab” menu, consisting of just four drinks that each come in oversized, sculptural vessels. These cocktails are pricey, at about $30 CAD a pop, but they’re essentially potable works of art. The bartenders developed and tested ingredients in a laboratory just off the bar, as the menu suggests. Order from this section and your bartender will appear behind a glass window, surrounded by beakers and centrifuges. My selection, the Deep Cove, combines gin with sea buckthorn and blue algae. Ribbons of cucumber mimic kelp. The vessel is as impressive as the sips: Deep Cove is served in a large, hand-blown glass that’s molded onto a piece of driftwood.
Before entering the large dining room, there’s a smaller area called The Garden, a verdant conservatory filled with 50 types of plants and adorned with string lights — a magical place to dine for an evening.
In the large dining room, Chef Hector Laguna’s food shines with avant garde takes on Northwest ingredients. Diners can opt for a free-wheeling chef’s dinner, in which the kitchen delivers of-the-moment dishes in a multi-course adventure, or pick a la carte from the menu. Whether you pick the roasted rib eye adorned with wild mushrooms and crispy bone marrow over potato gnocchi, or the sunchoke and Dungeness crab soup with bits of toasted nori, each plate is beautifully built and perfectly executed.
It’s no wonder that the Botanist has garnered loads of media attention since replacing a previous restaurant in mid-2017. Most recently, the Botanist garnered a nomination for Best New International Bar at Tales of The Cocktail’s 12th Annual Spirited Awards. Chances are, there’s plenty more of that to come.