GOLD: Opus Vancouver Hotel (opushotel.com)
A near-perfect hotel, the Opus Vancouver combines a rocker-chic aesthetic with absolute comfort — it’s like staying at your most stylish friend’s apartment. Ask for the Susan (one of five different room styles), which is painted deep blue and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook fashionable Yaletown. (Beautymark, the indie Sephora, is only two minutes away!) Every room is stocked with beautiful art books, fashion magazines and cool-kid CDs, and every night your pillow is the beneficiary of creative candies, like colourful Louisiana chews.
Bonus: With its chandeliers and crimson curtains, Elixir Bistro is a high-drama spot for breakfast. (Thespians like it too — the Twilight cast hung out here when they were filming in the city last fall.) Order the Brioche French Toast, which comes with apple-brandy brown butter and raisin mascarpone. If you’re partying like a rock star, pair it with the Elixir Caesar.
Vibe: Alexa Chung, Bianca Jagger, Juergen Teller.
SILVER: The Loden Hotel (theloden.com)
Area: Coal Harbour
Hotels like the Loden are redefining “boutique”: Bland minimalism has been banished in favour of unique individual touches that combine to create a singular effect — in this case, elegance. The vision starts in the lobby of this meticulously appointed hotel, with gleaming marble walls, elegant cut-crystal vases and coffee-table books on fashion photography.
Bonus: The handcrafted cocktails at Voya restaurant are a liquid example of la dolce vita — try the Life of Leisure, a sweet and smoky blend of Jameson whiskey, nutmeg and dark chocolate.
Vibe: Margherita Missoni, Grace Kelly, Irving Penn.
Whet your appetite with these hot eateries on the next page ...
How to pack for a great escape
12 romantic hours in Manhattan
Top albums of 2009
Where to dine
GOLD: Campagnolo (campagnolorestaurant.ca)
Area: Main Street
Campagnolo translates as “rube” — a playful nod to its owners’ Albertan, not Italian, ancestry — but this cozy bistro is anything but unsophisticated. The menu focuses on rustic Italian dishes like Farfalle with Fennel Sausage, Summer Leeks and Fresh Cheese, made with local ingredients. And what to indulge in for dessert? Grappa, si, and Nutella Tart with Chocolate and Frangelico.
Extra credit: While waiting for a table, sip Prosecco in the charming 25-seat wine bar tucked at the back. Want to brush up on your David Rocco? Campagnolo offers Italian-cheese seminars and charcuterie classes.
SILVER: Salt Tasting Room (salttastingroom.com)
Don’t let the location — it’s in a long, dark alley — put you off: Salt Tasting Room is one of the most welcoming restaurants in the city. It’s also a great date spot, with small wooden tables, an exposed brick wall and a chalkboard at the back that showcases the night’s offerings. Salt anticipated the charcuterie craze, and it still has the city’s best selection of small-batch cured meats, artisanal cheeses and gourmet condiments (think honeycomb and Spanish almonds), which servers pair with flights of wine and sherry.
Extra credit: Every Sunday, Salt hosts a fondue night. (Think melted Comté cheese paired with Polish sausage and cipollini onions.)
Unwind and relax with these spa suggestions on the next page ...
The antioxidant diet
Hot 100: Trends for 2010
Chic Lima is South America's newest hot spot
Where to spa
GOLD: Miraj Hammam Spa (mirajhammam.com)
Area: South Granville
It’s worth spending an entire afternoon at Miraj, a lovely Moroccanstyle spa that offers the most authentic hammam experience in Canada. Start with a steam, and then relax on Jerusalem-gold marble while a therapist scrubs you down with Moroccan black soap. Add on the phenomenal full-body massage, which features Pure Attar essential oils like the Star of Istanbul, a fresh blend of coriander and vetiver.
Luxe plus: In the Sultana Lounge, relax on silk pillows, sample tea and cake and catch up on required reading (Vogue, Vanity Fair et al.).
SILVER: Vida Spa (vidawellness.com)
Area: Business district
Located in the Sutton Place Hotel, Vida Spa looks like a functional space at first, with all the basic niceties (herbal tea, soothing music), but it’s the treatments that make it a must-visit. This February, the hotel is introducing three mineral-themed, Olympic-inspired treatments: Gold, Silver and Bronze Metal Facials. Opt for Gold (obviously), a thorough cleansing and facial massage that uses 24-karat gold leaf to brighten and firm your skin.
Luxe plus: One of Vida’s main pillars is its Ayurvedic philosophy: Your aesthetician will determine whether you’re a Pitta, Vata or Kapha and customize your treatment to suit you.