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Checking In: The Opus Hotel

Boutique hotel packs funky punch and tasty vibe in the heart of Yaletown

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One of my favourite things about an overnight hotel stay is having a leisurely breakfast and watching as the neighbourhood comes to life. Just as cycling through the country reveals much more about a place than whizzing past in a car does, much is revealed about a locale when you watch it wake up for another day.

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I was reminded of this in an unlikely place recently during a staycation at the Opus Hotel in the downtown Vancouver neighbourhood of Yaletown. I say unlikely as the 12-block historic district is not unfamiliar to me. I’ve dined and shopped there for many years. But as I sat at a window table in the hotel’s Capo restaurant, I came to appreciate that Yaletown is not just a shopping district or tourist destination; it is home to many, and on this particular Sunday morning the dog walkers were out, young couples were pushing prams to the park, friendly lines formed at bus stops and friends were meeting up with friends for their own café breakfasts.

Add this new-found appreciation as another reason why a staycation — the tourist-in-your-own-town thing — is such a rich and rewarding getaway. Just getting out of the house for a night or two is welcome relief enough these days, as is not having to cook meals or clean up. But to come to look upon a place in a different way after so many years only adds to your personal understanding your city.

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The new in-house restaurant Capo is a New York-style pizzeria featuring 36-hour fermented,sou­rdough pizza, topped with locally sourced ingredients and wood-fired. The well-priced wine list is excellent too.
The new in-house restaurant Capo is a New York-style pizzeria featuring 36-hour fermented,sou­rdough pizza, topped with locally sourced ingredients and wood-fired. The well-priced wine list is excellent too. Photo by Opus Hotel

The Opus Hotel, which is celebrating its 20 th anniversary this year, was the first true boutique hotel in Vancouver and is defined by an artistic flare in design and atmosphere, with bold guest room colours and a funky vibe that has made the Opus a favourite of visiting celebrities for two decades. And, as noted, its location is perfect.

“Yaletown is one of a kind in Vancouver relative to the business district and the water district,” notes Opus general manager Sarah Vallely. “It really is where the heart of Vancouver lies.”

Like many downtown hotels, the Opus was closed for a number of months in 2020 and 2021 due to virtually non-existent international travel but reopened in September of last year. The new in-house restaurant and lounge — Capo and Spritz — opened in September of 2020 and have been operating ever since, providing Yaletown with an authentic New York pizzeria with a great wine menu.

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“It was a needed change in both menu and décor,’ Vallely explained of the restaurant charge, adding, “We’ve noticed a great improvement on the vibe in that part of the hotel.”

That vibe hits you as soon as you check in, thanks in part to a complimentary glass of champagne, which in our case was most welcome after a near-90-minute drive through rush hour traffic from the North Shore. In hindsight, next time we’ll take the Seabus and Canada Line, as the Roundhouse station is directly across from the Opus Hotel. And if you need a car to get around downtown during your stay, there is a complimentary luxury car service for hotel guests. There are also free bicycles for guest usage, complete with helmets and a map highlighting local attractions. The weather was not conducive to a ride during our stay, but in good weather you can get the chef to pack you a picnic lunch and ride over to Stanley Park. If you prefer to stay in your room, there’s the Beverage Butler. “Just order from the butler your favourite drink and it is guaranteed to arrive in your room in five minutes,” said Vallely.

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The general manager says that they are seeing a good number of ‘staycationers,’ many of whom are coming to appreciate more  the neighbourhoods they thought they knew so well but learn so much more following a night or two — and a morning or two — in their midsts.

“I think Vancouverites are a bit spoiled in the fact that we are so used to being surrounded by beautiful Vancouver everyday, and over the last two years we have all learned to take a step back, slow down and perhaps book a weekend at a local hotel.”

In the spirit of the staycation season, the Opus Hotel has a couple of packages, and the hotel Capo restaurant and Spritz lounge are participating in the annual Dine Out program through to Jan. 31.

Pancakes & Parking: Includes overnight accommodation, valet parking, daily breakfast, and a guaranteed late check-out of 3 p.m., perfect for exploring the neighbourhood on foot, hotel bike or hotel luxury car.  Details at opushotel.com/offers/pancakes-parking

How Suite it Is: Upgrade your stay to the Opus Suite collection to enjoy deep soaker tubs, luxurious living rooms, wraparound balconies (Signature Suite only), valet parking. Offered at 30 per cent off (minimum two-night stay). Visit opushotel.com/offers/how-suite-it

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