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  • Jason

Hotel Review: Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, Canada

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

This is a review of the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, a hotel I had three stays at over the summer.

First, a little about the Westin Bayshore. It is located in an area on the Vancouver waterfront known as Coal Harbour. It is an iconic Vancouver hotel that has been around for decades, consisting of a lower wing built in the 1960s and a tower building built in the 1970s.

In the early 1970s, the reclusive and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes stayed at the hotel (then called the Bayshore Inn) for six months. As the story goes, without notice Hughes arrived in Vancouver and booked the top four floors of the hotel for him and his staff. Hughes occupied the penthouse suite which is still referred to as the "Hughes Suite". Hughes reportedly was rarely seen and did not leave his room for the duration of his stay. This latter fact is a pity because one of the real draws of the Westin Bayshore is its superb location.

The Westin Bayshore is located on the waterfront adjacent to Vancouver's jewel, Stanley Park, which is an urban park larger even than New York's Central Park. In truth, it is the location of the Westin Bayshore that kept me coming back more than anything else.


1st Stay in Early July 2021 - Marina/ City View

On our first visit to the Westin Bayshore in early July, I booked a marina/city view room on the Marriott website at a rate of $359 for the night and then applied my annual $200 American Express Platinum travel credit to the booking, resulting in a rate of $159 per night (plus taxes).

Our room was located in the east lower wing of the hotel. The room itself was fairly standard and was pleasant enough, with a king size bed, big screen tv, a functional desk (with ample power outlets) and a chair in the sitting area. I will note that for all three stays at the Bayshore, the beds were very comfortable.

While the bathroom was modern enough and the water flow from the shower head was good, I found the open shower with the short glass wall to be rather impractical. It resulted in water continually splashing and spraying onto the bathroom floor. Again, I appreciate the attempt at a more modern design, but it was a fail when it comes to practical utility.

The stand-out feature of the room, however, was the expansive sliding glass doors which provided panoramic views of the city, marina and harbour. The sliding glass doors covered most of the wall and opened in the middle allowing you to open both sides of the glass doors to really expand the feeling of openness in the room. For safety purposes there was a balcony railing immediately at the opening of the sliding doors, but no balcony to speak of.

Our room faced east with a view of the marina and Burrard Inlet.

2nd Stay Late July 2021 - Marina/ City View

Our second stay at the Westin Bayshore was in late July. Having thoroughly enjoyed the view from our room on our prior stay we, again, booked a marina/city view room. This time we booked the stay through the website (you can read more about the types of promos they offer here). The weekend rate was $449.00 per night, however, with the Stay Vancouver Hotels promotion, we received a $125 Visa gift card. In addition, I was able to stack two offers from my American Express Aeroplan Reserve card: (1) The Discover BC promotion which provided for a $50 credit; and (2) A Marriott Bonvoy offer which provided a $50 credit. As a result, the net price of the room was $224 for one night. Plus, notwithstanding that we did not book directly with Marriott, you can still usually receive your Marriott Bonvoy stay credits and elite benefits when booking through Stay Vancouver Hotels (details here).

Upon checking in, my Bonvoy elite status was acknowledged and we were informed that a 2pm late checkout had already been arranged and we had been upgraded to a tower room with a harbour view. I was interested to see how a tower room might differ from our room on our previous stay in the lower wing of the hotel.

As I mentioned, the Westin Bayshore has been around for a lot of years but has certainly been renovated, presumably several times over the years. However, the hallways to the tower rooms still had a dated feel to them.

The tower room was appointed similarly to our previous room in the other building, with a similar bathroom, king size bed, small sitting area and a big screen tv. It did, however, have a cloud like feature wall behind the bed which made the room feel brighter.

One of the more notable differences between our previous room and the tower room was the placement of the desk. Instead of the desk being against the wall, in the tower room the desk sits immediately in front of the glass doors. Certainly, if I had work to do, I would much prefer a tower room with its larger desk facing the window allowing for lots of light and a view. That being said, since I wasn't working during this stay, I would have actually preferred to have pulled the chair right up to the open glass door to relax and enjoy the view, which isn't possible in the tower room.

Another difference is that the sliding glass door door in the tower room did not open up as wide as our previous room. It did, however, have a very small balcony, too small for a chair, but big enough that you could stand outside. Also, as it was a corner room, the window extended around the wall which allowed for more light in the room and a broader view.

Once again, the bathroom had the short half glass panel that resulted in a very wet bathroom floor with every shower. The bathroom was well lit, which is always appreciated.

Of course, once again, the best feature of the room was the view!

Overall, however, I have to say that we preferred our previous room in the lower wing. While, thanks to the balcony and the corner window, we could have a beautiful view of the harbour if we looked north from our room, the fact was that our room looked directly across to the hotel's lower wing which, frankly, has an ugly exterior. Next time I would consider turning down the upgrade to a tower room unless it is to a higher floor in the tower where you can see over top of the lower wing or if you can get a room on the other side of the tower facing west. Also, there was far less privacy in this room with all the people in the lower wing staring back across at you. Our first hotel room in the lower wing which faced east had no buildings immediately in front of it allowing for a more expansive view and greater privacy.

3rd Stay in September 2021 - Mountain/Harbour View

We stayed for a third time at the Westin Bayshore in September. This time, I decided to book the cheapest standard room I could get which was $277 per night. Once again I took advantage of a Stay Vancouver promotion which offered a $125 Visa gift card for a one night stay, which I stacked with a Marriott Bonvoy $50 credit offer on the American Express Cobalt card. Upon checking in, however, we were offered an upgrade to a mountain/harbour view for $25. So, ultimately, the net room rate was $127 for the night, taking into account the Visa gift card and the credit card promotion - fantastic value!

We were advised that while the standard room we had booked was ready, the upgraded room was not yet ready. As a result, we decided to head to "H Tasting Lounge", the hotel's cocktail bar. It has a great patio with a nice selection of cocktails.

Within an hour we were notified that the room was ready. However, we were enjoying the warm, sunny weather on the patio and the cocktails were going down quite nicely so we were in no rush to head up to the room.

Once the sun started to get low in the sky and the patio was no longer soaked in its rays, we decided to head up to the room. The room was basically the same as the tower room we had previously, but as it was on the opposite side of the tower it had a view facing west toward Stanley Park.

Once again, the views were beautiful.


The common areas of the Westin Bayshore are fine, but there is no "wow" factor. the aesthetics are modern with polished tile floors, but no grand entrance.

Entrance to the H Tasting Lounge

T&Co - a handy place for a coffee or smoothie in the lobby


Entrance to the Vida Spa

The hotel has a small, but decent fitness centre with a selection of cardio machines, weight machines as well as free weights. It would probably have most everything you need provided there are not too many people using it otherwise I expect you would end up waiting for machines given its small size.

Indoor Pool - rather uninspiring

Outdoor pool - This was by far the more popular pool!

Stanley Park

The fact that the Westin Bayshore sits at the doorstep to Stanley Park is a huge plus. It makes the Westin a perfect location for exploring and enjoying the park.

Every morning on each of our stays the first thing we did was head out for a run along the seawall in Stanley Park. The seawall in Stanley Park is only one part of the Vancouver Seawall which is the world's largest uninterrupted waterfront path. It is an extremely popular recreational path, so if you are a runner my advice would be to head out relatively early-ish in the summertime, perhaps before 8am to have a running path relatively free of people. I should note that the entire length of the seawall runs 28km, so you can pretty much have as long of a run as you like. Running or walking along the seawall will provide you with some of the best views Vancouver has to offer.

Views of the harbour and city from the seawall in Stanley Park.

The seawall running along the waterfront of Stanley Park.

View along the seawall in Stanley Park looking back at the city and Canada Place.

View along the seawall in Stanley Park.

Service Experience

Over our three stays at the Westin Bayshore, I found the service ranged from downright poor to exceptional. Overall our service experience was fairly average.

For this review, I thought I would highlight the highs and lows of our experiences. On our first stay, the check-in experience was very poor, the incompetence actually started to seem comical as I thought I was being served by the gang that couldn't shoot straight. We arrived at around check-in time and, not surprisingly, the hotel was busy with a line up of people checking in. Upon reaching the check-in counter we were told that our room was not yet ready but that they could store our luggage and call us as soon as our room was ready. While we would have preferred to go to our room, we stored our luggage and parked our car in the adjacent public parkade which the hotel uses for guest parking.

As an aside, I need to add that the parkade is very off-brand. It is unkept, dirty looking with trash lying about, and had a burnt our light in one of the elevator lobbies. It leaves one with a very poor first impression of the hotel, but I digress.

Having parked the car we intended to grab a cocktail while we waited for our room to be ready. However, walking back into the hotel after parking our vehicle, we immediately received a notification that our room was now ready. While I was happy that our room was ready, had I known it would have literally been only a 15 minute wait, I would avoided the hassle of having the hotel store our luggage and simply waited in the lobby.

With the news that our room was ready, we again joined the line-up at check-in to receive our room key. When we reached the front of the line, we were dealing with the same clerk we had dealt with when we first arrived. We, again, advised her of our name and that we had been notified our room was ready. The clerk then excused herself and darted off to stop the customer who had been in line in front of us who had just been handed their room key and was heading up to their room. We saw the clerk speak to that party, take back the room key and return to the desk. It turns out that the clerk had given this other customer our room key believing that customer to be us. The clerk returned to tell us that she had mistakenly given our room key to the previous customer believing it was us. Obviously mistakes happen, but this seemed an odd one since this same clerk had served us earlier.

After receiving our room cards, the clerk offered to assist us with getting our luggage as the storage area was next to the reception desk. We provided her with our three luggage tags. What followed was some apparent difficulties in finding our bags such that the clerk sought the assistance of the bellhop. The clerk and bellhop returned, thanked us for our patience and handed us four bags. Of course, we had only provided them with three luggage tags so they were actually handing us an additional piece of luggage that belonged to someone else, though they appeared oblivious to that fact. We informed them that only three of the bags belonged to us. At this point, the clerk, perhaps recognizing that we were far from impressed with the sloppiness we had experienced through the check-in process, presented us with two free breakfast coupons for the restaurant. The gesture was appreciated and appropriate but these early missteps had us wondering about the service standards and training of staff. I am happy to say that for our next two stays check-in went far more smoothly.

We also experienced service that, in our view, went above and beyond. On our second stay my wife was sitting in a chair enjoying the view when her glasses slipped off her lap bounced on the floor and out the wonderfully expansive glass door opening, plummeting several stories down to the roof of a building below. We peered down unable to see where the glasses landed below. I told my wife that she should resign herself to the fact that her glasses were gone as it seemed unreasonable to expect the hotel to get them given that we couldn't even see them, and that, in any event, if they survived the fall they would likely be scratched and damaged. My wife, never a quitter, called the front desk explained what happened and asked if there was any way that someone could go onto the roof of the building and see if they could find and retrieve her glasses. The front desk clerk responded that she would check with her Manager and get back to us. Within 15 minutes there was a knock at the door and a staff member handed my wife her glasses. Miraculously they were in perfect shape, none the worse for wear despite the fall. The staff at the Westin deserve kudos for going above and beyond! It also gave my wife the opportunity to admonish me for giving up too early on her glasses noting that "sometimes you just have to ask". She was right... again. Of course, I also reminded her that she wouldn't need to ask if she didn't appear to have a habit of dropping items from hotel balconies and reminded her of the exact same thing happening during a stay in Cairns, Australia where she dropped her phone case (thankfully sans phone) about 10 stories down which was not recovered.

Bottom Line

The Westin Bayshore is not the prettiest hotel with its beige exterior and lack of architectural style. Constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, it looks its age.

The interior common areas of the hotel are much more modern with its polished tile floors. However, I still found it lacked any real style or flair. It does have some great outdoor spaces with fire pits and a wonderful patio adjoining its cocktail lounge.

Service was spotty at times, ranging from very poor to exceptional. Overall it was average with the notable exception of the over the top service in the retrieval of my wife's glasses.

The best features of the Westin Bayshore, however, are its location and views. While the rooms have been renovated, are clean and nicely furnished, they aren't anything particularly special. However, as soon as you throw open the curtains and open the sliding glass door to see the ocean, marina, park or city views, your room does in fact become a much more special place.

If staying at the Westin Bayshore, spend the extra money for a water view, you won't regret it. As well, an east facing room in the lower tower provides a nice expansive view or a high floor in the tower will provide an equally nice view. If you have a lower floor in the tower, then try for a west facing room overlooking the marina and looking out toward Stanley Park.

The location of the Westin Bayshore is also tough to beat. It's close enough to the city centre to enjoy Vancouver's urban offerings, yet sits on the waterfront right on the doorstep to Stanley Park.

Overall, I will not hesitate to stay at the Westin Bayshore again in the future. It is particularly good value if you can time your stay to take advantage of a Stay Vancouver Hotels promotion.

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