Vancouver Island is mostly given over to a wilderness of snowy mountain peaks and impenetrable forest. But it’s deceptive in many ways, too: for example, around the state capital of Victoria, the climate is akin to that of the Mediterranean. The best way to explore the island’s botanical gardens, rainforests, fjord-like lakes and abundant wildlife is to first have a great base. Here are some great Vancouver Island hotels to get you started, all bookable with Culture Trip.
Black Rock is a triumph of architecture, seamlessly adapted to the twisting contours of a remote stretch of the Pacific coastline. The exterior is a harmony of stone and wood, designed to work with the natural surroundings rather than standing in contrast to them. Only suites are available here; each one pairs the comfort of a king-sized bed with amenities such as a balcony, refrigerator and a kitchenette so that you can choose to either eat in or head to Currents, the hotel’s ocean-view restaurant.
Once you break away from the urban sprawl along Vancouver Island’s east coast, you’ll discover that much of the island is pure wilderness and there’s no better way to experience that than in a log cabin. Located at the far north of the island, just outside Port Hardy, you’ll find Ecoscape Cabins, a collection of wooden abodes stocked with the modern world’s comforts – coffee maker, fridge, barbecue and more – but none of its downsides. Cabins are built from salvaged wood.
Also located in Port Hardy, but more importantly, in the traditional lands of the Kwakiutl people, is Kwa’Lilas Hotel, which is the perfect place to immerse yourself in First Nations arts and culture. The rooms exhibit the kind of comfort you’d expect from any top quality hotel, with one key bonus: the use of authentic indigenous design motifs, including relief-carved wood art and in the common areas of the hotel, traditional headdresses and larger art pieces.
Overlooking Victoria Harbour, sandwiched between the downtown and Beacon Hill Park, is one of the finest hotels in Canada. Built in 1908 in a French Chateauesque style, the hotel has been listed as a National Historic Site of Canada since 1981. Inside the rooms, a sense of opulence reigns, through designer furniture and luxury lamps. A health club and spa, afternoon teas and upscale dining in Q at the Empress complete the picture of a top-class hotel stay.
If you want to escape all semblance of humanity without ditching comfort along the way, you must look to the kind of place that can only be reached by seaplane. Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is a luxury outpost at the end of the world. Guests stay in canvas tents that have been stylised to resemble those of early prospectors. This is glamping at its most comfortable, with hardwood floors and all the amenities of a luxury hotel – but with the benefit of the sounds of nature all around you.
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As the capital of British Columbia and one of its oldest colonial settlements, Victoria is filled with lovely old hotels such as Abigail’s. This half-timbered Tudor building has the small-scale, personable charm of a bed and breakfast, but the rooms of an upscale hotel, with four-poster beds and fireplaces in the fancier options. The included breakfast, curated to the preferences of each guest, is a highlight, as is the library lounge with its leather couches.
The surfing is great around Tofino, a small settlement on a remote peninsula midway up the west coast of Vancouver Island. The elegant wooden glamping pods of Ocean Village Resort line the beach and are surrounded by forests, mountains and a surf-kissed sandy beach. Each cabin has a propane fireplace, private bathroom and a kitchen space beneath an elegant vaulted ceiling. You can rent SUP boards here and access the onsite pool and hot tub.
If Tofino sounds like a charming wilderness escape for you, then there’s also a more upscale cabin resort on the peninsula called Crystal Cove. The seafront cabins are particularly pretty, along a stretch of sheltered coast that is protected by offshore islets, in contrast to the high surf, exposed regions in the area. Log cabins all come with a kitchen full of utensils and a barbecue area. Some of them even have their own hot tubs.
Ucluelet is another small west coast peninsula with a rugged coastline, secluded beaches and a cluster of excellent places to stay on Vancouver Island. A Snug Harbour Inn is one such option, perched atop the cliffs that provide excellent views of the ocean or the forest. Skylights give the rooms an airy feel during the day, while warm lighting and fireplaces create a cosy, indeed snug, atmosphere during the evening. All rooms have heated floors and guests have access to the property’s hot tub.