Rooms start at 229 Canadian dollars, or about $173.
The $240-million makeover of Vancouver’s Old Stock Exchange Building took three years, added 20 glass floors with aluminum louvers to create a pinstripe effect, and was originally slated to be entirely office space. After the building reopened in November 2017, winning the American Architecture Prize for Heritage Architecture, the developers decided to convert the original 11 floors of the neo-Gothic, brick structure into a luxury hotel. Less than a year later, the 202-room EXchange Hotel, owned by Executive Hotels & Resorts, opened, melding history with high-tech advances. The LEED Platinum property nods to its pecuniary past with a mix of gray marble and brushed-brass accents and includes the latest green technology. Carpeting is made out of recycled materials like plastic drink bottles, the heating and cooling come from a highly energy-efficient, ceiling-hung radiant panels and a nonpotable water system uses storm and ground water for the toilets.
Smack in the heart of the central business district, the EXchange (the first two letters are capitalized in a nod to the old stock exchange) is surrounded by high-end shops like Cartier and the Holt Renfrew department store and is just blocks to the waterfront, Canada Place and Gastown. Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium is a 15-minute walk and popular Granville Island is an easy cab ride away.
My deluxe king room was decorated in shades of gray and layered with texture. Furnishings included a comfortable king bed topped with crisp cotton linens, a tweed love seat that opened to a twin bed, a small wood desk and an open wardrobe. Small touches had a big impact: Outlets were everywhere, including built into the marble lamps on each nightstand. A Crave tablet included free digital newspapers and recommendations for local restaurants and amenities. The room also had an Illy coffee machine, a strategically positioned full-length mirror and free Wi-Fi.
Tiled in gray marble with brass faucets and accents, the spacious bathroom had a long vanity with a single sink, a backlit mirror, heated floors and a selection of L’Occitane bath products. A partially glassed-in shower stall had a favorite feature: The faucets were on the wall near the door and the shower head was on the opposite wall so I could set the temperature without getting soaked.
A fitness center features treadmills, spin bikes, elliptical trainers, a rowing machine and free weights. A small studio offers group exercise classes like yoga, Zumba and boot camp, and has TRX training, battle ropes, stability balls and mats available when classes are not in session.
Located in the 60-foot atrium of the lobby, the recently opened Hydra is two restaurants in one. On the main floor, there’s a bright cafe serving Greek yogurt (8 Canadian), breakfast sandwiches (6 to 8 Canadian), soups and salads until midafternoon, at which point the menu shifts to mezze with tapas and cocktails. Up a spiral staircase, Hydra Estiatorio, a Greek-inspired restaurant serves housemade pita with a variety of spreads (10 Canadian each), a raw bar, roasted leg of lamb (89 Canadian) and a selection of fish that can be salt-baked or grilled.
The Bottom Line
A stylish boutique hotel with the feel of a custom-made suit, The EXchange offers a prime location and small, but well-thought-out features. It’s popular with business travelers, but the restaurant may tempt a wider, more local crowd.
EXchange Hotel, 475 Howe St.; www.exchangehotelvan.com