Here’s our Vancouver Gay Guide, with recommendations of gay bars, TOP restaurants, GLBT beaches and parks, and Gay-friendly hotels and Bed-and-breakfasts
tourism vancouver: tourismvancouver.com
qmunity LGBT community center: qmunity.ca
aids vancouver: aidsvancouver.org
glba – LGBT business association: glba.org
xtra! – LGBT newspaper: xtra.ca/vancouver.aspx
- $ = under $100
- $$ = $100-$175
- $$$ = $175-$350
- $$$$ = over $350
The four rooms of this economical 1899 B&B are named for famed artists and writers, including Oscar Wilde. Opulent Victorian decorative elements throughout the house—including gold-leaf wallpaper, oil paintings, and silver candelabras—evoke the ambience of a stately British home. Breakfasts use organic, fair-trade ingredients. Note that there’s a dog and a cat on premises.
Location: 1351 Barclay St., Vancouver Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-605-1351
Carefully appointed with antiques, this gay-owned 1904 Victorian cuts a dashing figure, with its primrose-yellow façade, pristine white trim, bay windows, and broad front porch. The five rooms carry a stylish, contemporary aesthetic, with their custom-crafted wood furnishings, earthy hues, and uncluttered layouts. It’s right in the heart of the residential West End—just blocks from beaches, bars, shopping, and Stanley Park. This one often fills up fast, so book early.
In the heart of Robson Street’s famous shopping and entertainment strip, this 31-story tower offers a lot considering its reasonable rates. All 214 rooms are large and have corner locations with private balconies—on higher floors, the views are amazing. Internet (though wired) is free, and there’s a decent-size fitness center with heated indoor lap pool. Stanley Park is just down the hill.
Location: 550 W Hastings St Vancouver, BC, Canada Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-689-8188
Poised as it is between the city’s financial district and the convention center, this solid bet for longer-range business travelers contains 225 rooms spread over 23 floors. Units are all more than 400 square feet, and each has a separate sitting room. Both trendy Gastown and the SkyTrain’s Canada Line are just a block away, the latter providing cheap and direct airport access.
Occupying the lower 22 floors of a shiny 48-story tower completed just before the Olympic Winter Games, the Fairmont Pacific Rim ranks among city’s most desirable addresses. Cheap it ain’t, but you get what you pay for: the 377 rooms (most with great views) are large and luxuriously styled, with marble bathrooms and spa tubs. There’s an incredible 4,000-square-foot gym, a spa offering a full slate of sumptuous treatments, and a breathtaking rooftop pool with private cabanas.
On the quieter eastern shore of what’s technically a peninsula, this comfy roost is perfect if you prefer to admire Vancouver’s downtown skyline rather than stay in the middle of it. Modern, gay-friendly, and peaceful, it’s set on the creekside beside a bristle of yachts’ masts. The famous market is only a few hundred feet away. Tiny “aquabuses” link the island with downtown.
A super-swank, ultra-contemporary boutique hideaway near beautiful Coal Harbour and a short walk south of leafy Stanley Park, the Loden appeals strongly to romantics, who delight in the plush custom beds, deep soaking tubs, and floor-to-ceiling windows, which afford breathtaking mountain and water views. Bring the outside in by booking one of the Garden Terrace rooms, each with lushly landscaped patios. Tableau bar and bistro serves ethereal classic French fare.
With tasteful Asian-inspired art and furnishings, solicitous service, and spacious rooms and bathrooms, this 18-story gem offers plenty of bang for the buck—you’d pay a lot more for similar digs at many better-known chain properties downtown. Across the street from the huge Pacific Centre shopping complex and just a 15-minute walk from Davie Street bars and Gastown restaurants, the Metropolitan makes a terrific base camp. There’s a great restaurant, Diva at the Met, beside the lobby.
This stylish, reasonably priced downtown property lies just blocks from Davie Village and occupies the historic Dufferin Hotel building, which has been transformed into a minimalist-chic boutique hotel with 67 well-proportioned rooms. The rehab incorporates the vintage crown moldings and hardwood floors, and walls are thick enough that you’ll never hear your neighbors. The excellent Cibo Trattoria serves rustic Italian cuisine, and you can start the morning with espresso—or the evening with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc—in Uva Wine Bar.
This gay-owned inn takes its name from having been the home of the composer of Canada’s national anthem. The seven supremely inviting rooms here are done in late Victorian style—some have downtown views or skylights. Common spaces have been warmly refurbished with period furnishings and light fixtures. A decadent three-course gourmet breakfast starts your day; evening sherry, a 24-hour guest pantry, free Wi-Fi, and a book and video library round out the amenities.
Anchoring Yaletown’s white-hot glow of modishness, this dapper, 97-room hotel meshes perfectly with the neighborhood’s lofts, boutiques, bistros, and beautiful people. A dream of a hotel for design aficionados, Opus offers rooms in five color schemes, all with the latest in gadgetry and thoughtful extras. Think iPad 2s, LCD flat-screen TVs, heated bathroom floors, and L’Occitaine amenities. The lobby bar scene sees clutches of confident, international movers-and-shakers schmoozing amid velvet couches and ethereal gauze drapes, and Cento Notti serves divine Italian cuisine.
This 1986 Vancouver classic puts cruise passengers sailing to and from Canada Place literally at the pier, offering cruise-focused packages that transfer your luggage from shore to ship. Charles and Di, the Dalai Lama, and other luminaries have stayed here. The cushy, contemporary rooms are bathed in calming brown and ivory shades, and nearly all of them have knockout views of mountains, water, or the downtown skyline.
Location: 1133 W Hastings St Vancouver, BC, Canada Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-689-9211
Overlooking Coal Harbour and steps from the convention center and the cruise-ship-port, this upscale, 442-room property gets plenty of business travelers during the week, but rates often dip a bit during the quieter weekends. Despite having leviathan proportions, the Renaissance feels welcoming thanks to top-notch service and attractive rooms decorated with vibrant color schemes and sleek furniture.
Location: 801 W Georgia St., Vancouver Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-682-5566
A Vancouver legend was reborn with the 2011 reopening of this swank city-center property with a star-studded history—Marlene Dietrich supposedly brought 40 suitcases during her memorable stay. An exquisite Canadian art collection tempts guests to linger in many public spaces. Rooms are masterpieces of classic sophistication. The translucent panels in the unique pool are actually the glass ceiling of an event room below. The restaurant Hawksworth has quickly cemented a place among Vancouver’s must-dine establishments.
Location: 1160 Davie St Vancouver, BC V6E 1N1, Canada Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-681-7263
You really can’t get closer to Vancouver’s gay clubbing scene than this all-suites tower in Davie Village. Accommodations are all at least 432 square feet and come with fully equipped kitchens. A fitness room, spa, and heated outdoor pool (in season) provide plenty of opportunities for recreation and relaxation. Upper floors facing away from Davie Street overlook English Bay, which is just a 10-minute walk away.
Housed in Vancouver’s tallest (at 61 stories) building, this 119-room stunner is the first North American outpost of the exalted Asian brand. Here you’ll find some of the largest rooms in the city, with sleek marble baths, floor-to-ceiling windows, iPod docks, and bedside controls for the drapes and lighting. It’s in the heart of the downtown business and shopping district, steps from top restaurants, and has its very own culinary notable, Market—part of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s empire. A 5,000-square-foot fitness center and glamorous spa round out the impressive facilities.
Location: 1111 Burnaby St., Vancouver Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-688-2474
Sure, it has an excellent location just a block from Davie Street (easy stumbling distance home after a big night on the town), but this gay-popular hotel has a lot more going for it: cavernous 500-square-foot (and up) suites with hardwood floors, designer rugs, full kitchens, and plush pillow-top king-size beds; a small fitness room; free Wi-Fi and Continental breakfast; and self-serve laundry (even the soap is free). And here’s a perk nearly unheard of in the city center: free gated parking.
Savvy proprietors Andrew and Lee Rennison snatched up an old motor inn and gave it a $3 million face-lift before relaunching it in 2011 as the Burrard. Perched above an unassuming 7-Eleven just a block from Davie Street, this 72-room study in midcentury modern practically screams hipster, but even the uncool can appreciate its myriad charms: free Wi-Fi, bottled water, North American calls, and bike rentals, plus espresso machines and 42-inch HDTVs in every room.
One of the Northwest’s most stylish boutique hotels, the 129-room Listel showcases a brilliant collection of regional art, much of it displayed on two “museum” floors designed through a partnership with the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. Hemlock and cedar furniture and distinct First Nations renderings of eagles, bears, and salmon fill the rooms, and eye-popping masks greet guests at the elevators on these floors. The West End location is handy to Robson Street’s exclusive shopping and a short walk from Davie Street’s GLBT bars and restaurants. On-site restaurant Forage serves exceptionally good farm-to-table cuisine.
An airy Edwardian mansion a few blocks from Davie Street, this gay-owned B&B offers six distinctive rooms and suites and includes delicious hot breakfasts with the very reasonable rates. The century-old house reflects the travels and tastes of innkeepers David and O’Neal. Room themes runs the gamut from rustic cabin chic to Indian Raj. The clientele skews mostly gay and lesbian.
Location: 1821 Robson St., Vancouver Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-684-2223
Just a few blocks from Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, Robson Street shopping, and Denman Street dining, this intimate property offers eight self-contained suites with full kitchens. Situated on a corner above a Starbucks, this is an ideal address for those in town for more than a couple of days or who are traveling with kids, as there’s plenty of room to spread out, and cribs and high chairs are available.
This posh, magnificently restored early-20th-century mansion has been a favorite address of discerning travelers since it opened as an accommodation in the mid-’80s. The seven exquisitely furnished rooms, including one endearingly tiny room that’s a great budget option, contain many of the modern amenities you’d expect at a larger hotel, making this a favorite of business travelers.Back to Top
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10-$20
- $$$ = $20-$30
- $$$$ = over $30
As much a bar as a restaurant, this handsome multilevel space with tall windows and sidewalk seating offers communal tables, weekend script readings, and occasional DJs. Beer fanatics can’t resist the casks, one-off kegs, flights, and artisan brews, such as Brother Thelonious Dark Abbey Ale. On the food side, expect ethically sourced and ocean-friendly entrées such as wild smoked salmon Benedicts and bison cheesesteaks.
Location: 843 E Hastings St., Vancouver Get Directions
Phone Number: 604-255-4218
Serious cheese lovers are a dedicated lot, so much that they’ll brave downtown’s dreary east side to seek out this curd-tastic, Gruyère-oovy dairy mecca. Beside the renowned Les Amis du Fromage cheese shop, this cozy restaurant serves an impressive array of fondues and raclettes, plus charcuterie and cheese platters (with an emphasis on BC varieties) and a stellar cheeseburger that can be topped with anything from smoked caciocavallo to Emmentaler. There’s also a terrific wine list, bien sûr.
A recent name change hasn’t stopped East Van folks from stopping into the former Stella’s to guzzle a few of the 120 Belgian and craft brews and snack on roasted-vegetable risotto balls and beer-and-chile-braised taquitos. This mid-Commercial destination has a super-popular side patio that brims with people all summer long.
Grab a bar seat overlooking the exhibition kitchen or at one of the small tables that line this trendy, lively tapas and wine bar, in which chef Gord Martin serves fusion-y global fare. Hearty, soul-warming favorites include braised short ribs with butternut squash puree and local mussels in garam masala–coconut curry.
The seafood restaurant that’s made arguably the biggest splash on the Vancouver scene, this converted Yaletown warehouse boasts red-brick walls, a heated patio, and a lively raw bar. The shoals of exquisite fruits de mer served here are wild and sustainable, including about 20 types of oyster on the half shell (most from BC waters) and tempting main dishes like buttery West Coast sablefish and Qualicum Bay scallops.
An industrial space with an industrious chef—Jason Liezert—serving pan-European comfort food, this hip Gastown bistro packs in a foodie-minded crowd. Also popular with cocktail aficionados, Boneta gets everything right from the first sip of a Green Eyed Devil (pear, sake, and green tea) to the last bite of that side of deep-fried octopus chips.
Even with its grouchy motto, “eggs and abuse,” this Davie Street institution has been drawing a steady stream of devotees (and the occasional visiting movie star) since 1983. Brash servers deliver plenty of attitude, along with huge plates of morning sustenance—consider the mammoth and meaty Lumberjack Breakfast or any of the eggs Benedict plates. Servers keep a keen eye out for uneaten edibles; you’ll be asked to make a donation to charity if you can’t finish your meal.
A welcome addition to Vancouver’s already impressive supply of Asian eateries, this Nepali restaurant is perched on the second floor of a Davie Village house, in a cozy room with smart modern decor accented by traditional artistic touches. Fresh local ingredients and Nepali herbs and spices are used to create clean, nuanced flavors. Daal-bhaat (lentils and rice), achaar (chutneys), momos (Tibetan steamed dumplings), and curries make up the backbone of a menu that incorporates vibrant Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan influences.
One of the original stalwarts of the Davie strip, Mary’s is a way-gay diner with straightforward sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast fare. The well-shaded patio runs the length of the restaurant—perfect for people-watching. Old-school ’70s décor and comfy booths create a retro look.
Hapa on Robson, one of Canada’s first izakaya, took Vancouver by storm back in 2003, and the ripples have yet to subside. Having spurred the opening of three other fine grills around the city, the original Hapa specializes in hot and cold Japanese tapas and larger plates, such as the Ishi-Yaki hot-stone rice bowl with minced pork, flower chives, and spicy miso.
With a funky, artfully shabby interior and a huge heated patio, this venerable hangout on The Drive channels vintage Cuba with both its ambience and its food. Many regulars swear by the breakfasts, which feature an especially delicious chorizo hash topped with poached eggs. For lunch and dinner, consider a few tapas (tuna ceviche, jerk-chicken tacos) or a flavorful rendering of the Latin classic, ropa vieja.
Living up to its name, this Kits kitchen changes everything up nightly. Those who appreciate the element of surprise can opt for the six-course Culinary Adventure menu, leaving their experience in the creative hands of chef Brian Fowke. Recent offerings from the kitchen’s slow-food-inspired repertoire have included confit duckling miso and scallops with barley risotto and white-truffle lobster broth.
This upscale French-German bistro is a find in Davie Village. Passersby can see the kitchen through the windows and are inevitably lured in after glimpsing specialties like suckling pig and mussels and frites. The Alsatian onion tart is a wonderful starter. Prepare to be pampered with impeccable service and top-rate food. Brasserie’s downtown food cart serves a delish beer-brined chicken sandwich.
In a town overrun with coffee chains, Melriches is refreshingly local, with beans roasted by Vancouver’s Bean Around the World. To see and be seen, choose a seat in the window. The handcrafted chai, made with loose-leaf tea, is a worthy elixir, and breakfast items are served all day.
Expect a line to get into this tiny spot that may just serve the best ramen in the city. The bamboo-charcoal ramen, unusual in appearance, has no rival in depth of flavor and simple complexity.
Several West End restaurants afford awesome views of English Bay, but one-of-a-kind Raincity Grill stands out for its romantic atmosphere and inventive West Coast cuisine, focused on locally sourced foods. Menus change seasonally—the 100-mile tasting menu provides a great opportunity to sample a variety of ingredients. Oenophiles appreciate the cellar’s long list of Pacific Northwest selections.
A slice of country French sophistication tucked down a Gastown alleyway, Salt is a natty loved-by-locals spot that lets you sample superb artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and fantastic wines. Put together your own mix-and-match tasting plate, then select an accompanying flight of wine or beer (or let the expert servers do it for you).
A fixture along Yaletown’s Hamilton Street restaurant row and a member of Vancouver’s glitzy, nightclub-inspired Glowbal Collection, Society takes a novel approach to traditional fare. There’s truffle in the mac and cheese, and there’s spiced-dill mascarpone on the salmon burger. Most famous are Society’s milkshakes, several of which are spiked, including the luscious Lucky Charm, an intoxicating blend of Guinness with vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
This tiny space in Davie Village serves authentic, affordable Thai classics, including red curry with pumpkin and traditional pad kee mao noodles. Dinner combos are a steal and include your choice of entrée, plus salad, rice, and spring roll. With only about five tables, the space can feel cramped, but you can always order takeout and enjoy a picnic at nearby Sunset Beach.
A throwback to Kitsilano’s long-ago tie-dye days, this funky, 24-hour vegetarian eatery attracts an eclectic bunch, including yoga mums, impecunious students, and local New Agers. Substantial breakfasts, healthy lunches, and “dragon bowls” (with rice, veggies, and spicy sauces) feature on the menu. Homemade pies and decadent raspberry-chocolate cake make perfect endings.
Steps from Davie gay bars, the diminutive, laid-back Twisted Fork tempts with unusual twists on French bistro fare. The menu changes frequently, with an emphasis on local BC ingredients. Tried-and-true dishes like succulent beef bourguignonne are featured alongside oxtail soup, cured local duck breast, and fall-off-the-bone lamb shank. An all-BC wine list and carefully selected microbrew list provide plenty of interesting choices.
Vikram Vij’s innovative take on Indian cuisine has earned this dimly lighted restaurant just south of Granville Island considerable national acclaim. Wine-marinated lamb popsicles with fenugreek-curry glaze and roasted eggplant and butternut squash with black chickpeas are a couple of standouts, but if grilled sablefish graces the menu, don’t miss it. Reservations aren’t taken, but complimentary chai and snacks are served in the lounge until seats open up.Back to Top
In a perfect world, all trendy gay lounges would resemble this one. Set conveniently along the Davie bar strip, 1181 is sleek and modern, teems with hot guys, spins great tunes, and serves well-crafted cocktails, all without a cover charge or any sense of pretention. Top local DJs spin Thursdays and weekends, and there’s a Backdoor Tea Dance the last Sunday of every month.
A fantastic sound system, stiff—although pricey—drinks, and talented DJs pack hot (as in attractive and sweaty) crowds into this long-running dance club. On Thursday and Saturday nights, Vancouver’s beautiful boys make a beeline for this formerly all-gay venue. The rest of the week is considerably straighter. Regulars know to get hand stamps when the club opens at 9, return to other Davie drinking holes, and then sail back in, past the seemingly interminable lines that build after 11.
One of Vancouver’s largest dance venues, downtown’s Five Sixty is always LGBT-friendly. But in 2012, the club launched a full-on-queer dance party, PONI, that’s held on certain Saturdays and has quickly become a hit. Helmed by local homo celeb (and DJ) Adam Dreaddy, PONI brings in other DJs from around the world to spice up the action. The Five Sixty venue has three dance floors, multiple bars, and a fairly ingenious indoor queuing area at the door, which is much appreciated on wet nights.
Among Davie gay bars, the Fountainhead stands out as a classy, relaxed place with music at conversation-friendly levels, a lovely heated patio, and reliably good bar food—from burgers and salads to wings and nachos, plus tasty brunch fare on the weekends. The crowd is eclectic, often with as many women as men, and the easygoing vibe makes this a good spot to knock back a couple of attractively priced beers before clubbing across the street at Numbers or Celebrities.
Equal parts pool hall, karaoke dive, and down-to-earth dance club, Numbers caters to a staunchly gay, mostly male crowd seven days a week, sticking to a straightforward menu of Top 40 tunes and cheesy classics. Regulars demonstrate their dexterity with pool and darts earlier in the evening. The compact dance floor gets crammed after midnight. Hit the ATM first—it’s cash only.
The focal points of this second-floor cocktail lounge and show bar are a well-used baby grand piano and an extensive martini list—200 and counting. Live jazz and show tunes star on weeknights. On Saturday nights, the BPM increases as house DJs get the cheerful crowd going. Unisex bathrooms sometimes surprise first-time visitors.
One of the sexiest gay bars in Vancouver—that is, if you like buff, tattooed men—Pumpjack Pub is dark, a little run-down, and quite cruise-y. (What good leather bar isn’t?) With no cover and cheap drinks, this is a great place to start your evening or end it, depending on what you’re into. The laid-back atmosphere makes it easy for anyone to feel comfortable, whatever your style of dress. Don’t miss the Sunday keggers.
Davie Village’s inviting sports bar is plastered with TVs airing big games and has a wonderfully flirty and festive heated sidewalk patio out front. Popular with a crowd of 20- and 30-something gays and straights, Score kicks things off early. Don’t miss Sunday’s hearty $5 breakfasts, where chorizo bennys and huevos rancheros are featured alongside mimosas and martinis, while NFL games air on TV.
Straddling southeast downtown and southwest Strathcona, the Cobalt is a former den of punk-rock abandon that’s been spruced up of late just enough to make it nice, but (thankfully) not to the point of obliterating its former dive ambience. A hip and friendly crowd, spanning genders and orientations, shows up—don’t miss the regular queer events, like the drag-king party Man Up, the homo hip-hop night Hustla, and weekly dragstravaganza Apocalypstick. Bonus for wizards: free pinball on Tuesdays.
Sometimes super-fun, other nights a bit quiet, this midsize gay dance club stands in the heart of the Davie bar strip. It seems finally to be finding its footing, thanks to some fun theme events: Friday-night dance parties featuring buffed go-go dancers, “Absolutly Dragulous” Saturdays, and monthly Fiesta Latino fêtes on first Thursdays.Back to Top
Location: 1700 Beach Avenue Vancouver, BC V6E 1V3, Canada Get Directions
Just south of Stanley Park’s beaches, which are also quite scenic and enjoyable, English Bay Beach runs from the foot of Denman Street south about a kilometer to Sunset Beach, and although it’s a short stroll from the Davie Street gay scene and thus hugely popular with LGBT sun-worshippers, it’s actually a favorite hangout of most Vancouverites. You’ll find lots to do here, from sand volleyball to cavorting on a huge waterslide. At Sunset Beach, you can drop by the Vancouver Aquatic Centre for a swim (the GLBT English Bay Swim Club meets here) or catch the water taxi to Granville Island. Beach Avenue from Denman to Burrard Streets.
Perched on the tip of Point Grey on the west edge of the University of British Columbia campus, Vancouver’s secluded clothing-optional strand is infamous for its “anything goes” vibe. Several trails lead down through the forest of pines, oaks, and cedars to Wreck Beach, with Trails 6 and 7 being the best for reaching the gay section, which is at the southern end of the beach toward the mouth of the Fraser River. Enterprising vendors selling everything from beer and sushi to various illicit substances are all around, especially near the base of Trail 6. SW Marine Drive, just north of University Boulevard.Back to Top