L’Hermitage Vancouver

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I enjoy self-catering accommodations. They make the money go a bit further and for families it’s a great way to have a base for exploring. But there are times I really want to push the boat out and, frankly, they don’t come much better than L’Hermitage Hotel, smack in the middle of Downtown and a haven of tranquility amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Don’t expect a massive chain hotel. I enjoy them when I’m there but sometimes something a little different is called for and L’Hermitage supplies it. It’s a boutique hotel and its situation in the heart of the city’s entertainment and shopping district makes it a magnet for vacationers.

L’Hermitage has been on the Vancouver scene since the middle of 2008 and has 60 rooms that are intriguingly set in a residential tower, taking up the fifth, sixth and seventh floors. As well as a good selection of different types of room, there is also a range of luxurious suites with either one or two bedrooms, and these include state-of-the-art kitchens with top quality appliances.

You expect to be comfortable in a room at a hotel like this – and believe me, you are! – but it’s all the other touches that make it special. Naturally there is high-speed wifi, but additional amenities include a superbly equipped fitness studio, an outdoor heated saltwater pool with a Jacuzzi and outstanding views across the city and, one of my favorites as I enjoy a good shot of caffeine from time to time – a Nespresso coffee machine in every room.

Breakfast is another pleasure to enjoy in L’Orangerie Dining Room & Lounge. Match smoked salmon from British Columbia with some organic, free-range scrambled eggs, or sample Belgian waffles with Italian ‘Milano’ roasted coffee to get set up for a busy day either at work or play.

One extra touch that I like is the complimentary bicycles available for touring the city. Vancouver is great for bicycling and there are a number of routes you can follow. Keep fit, work up an appetite, and then take your dinner at one of the many restaurants close to L’Hermitage. Perfect

Vancouver, music and vacation

Taking a vacation in a city like Vancouver, with so many things to see or do, can get a little on the expensive side if you’re not careful. Of course if money is no object then spend away, but for those of us who sometimes like to hold back a little it’s great to find something free that’s also of really high quality.

Just such an event is a month or so of music called The Toque Sessions, CBC’s annual showcase for some of the finest locally based musicians and bands. It’s been running for five years now and sessions are usually from the back end of January to the end of February. CBC has an eclectic line-up for the sessions, a diverse range of styles that this year included blues, jazz, indie, pop, folk and metal at CBC Studio 1 on Hamilton Street.

Studio 1 used to be home to the CBC Radio Orchestra for dozens of years and is now a top location for concerts and broadcasts for CBC Vancouver. It’s reckoned to be one of the best studio sound stages that isn’t in Toronto or way down in Hollywood, California.

What I like about gigs there is that it’s really intimate – you’re right up close to the performers because the studio only has a capacity of around 120-130. Now, I don’t mind big stadium gigs but you can feel a little isolated if you’re way back from the stage. In Studio 1 you can feel the music almost as if you’re at home with a state-of-the-art sound system – except you’ve got the musicians in the room!

Explaining the wide range of musical styles at the sessions, one of the producers responsible for setting up the 5th series, Jon Siddall, said: “We have a really broad taste in music so there’s a little bit of every flavor. If you come to every session, you can experience them all.”

Just remember that if you want to go the sessions are every Thursday and Friday evening, but get there early because space is limited and, after all, everyone likes a free concert!