When I decided on Vancouver for a short trip, I searched for a place to stay that had charm, a good location, and would fit into my self-imposed budget. Over the next few months, I booked one place and canceled the reservation. Then I booked another and canceled that one. I was conflicted about best part of the city to be near all the things I wanted to see and do. I also wanted to ensure my hotel had some charm since I don’t like the antiseptic feel of chain hotels (with the exception of JW Marriott or Ritz-Carlton properties – those are two hotel conglomerates that never feel vanilla).
As I learned more about the city, read more information, and got more recommendations my figurative hotel compass spun like crazy. The Buchan was an early contender and one on which I kept going back and forth Reading reviews about its character both delighted and dismayed me. Typically, I don’t book a place for more than one night, preferring to suss out a location once I arrive. I was fickle in my final decision but SO glad I decided to finally book the Buchan and stay there for my entire stay.
On a rainy afternoon, I took the SkyTrain from the airport to the city center. It was an easy trip and I was deposited at the Waterfront Station. The torrential rain had lessened by the time I arrived in the city so I decided walk the 2.4km to the hotel. As a desert dweller for the past decade, I got a thrill from using my umbrella and splashing through puddles on my way uphill to the West End of Vancouver. After an invigorating, but wet walk, in the misty grey light of late afternoon, I arrived at a quiet residential street lined with flowering trees and easily found the Buchan.
The Buchan is old – given the door hardware and other fixtures, I’d guess pre-War (WWII) but not as old as Art Deco – but does have evidence of updates across the decades. It definitely had the quirks and charm I look for in a hotel – unique features that give an added layer of color to my adventures. The staff is helpful and friendly and Chris has a good, sarcastic sense of humor. There is a slight musty smell in the lobby and stairwell, but this is likely due to the amount of rain in Vancouver and the age of the building. Check in was fast and easy and Chris was helpful, answering my barrage of questions.
After a walk up 2 short flights of stairs with a landing in between, I arrived at room 308. I was amazed at the large size of my room. Simply furnished but well maintained, it featured a super hard bed, which was great for me. The linens were soft but had that great clean smell of bleachy hotel sheets. The bathroom reminded me of my first house in D.C. with old tiles and a really deep cast iron bathtub. I am a stickler for cleanliness and my room at the Buchan met my extra-high standards. The water pressure was worth writing home about and the hot water was ample. Sorry for the poor shot below, it was a fast snap when I walked in the door. To the left of the image is the bathroom and to the right, obscured by the armoire (no closets) is a dresser and mirror. There is also a television mounted in the corner apex where walls meet ceiling.
- The floors are oddly loud and it feels like the floor is a false floor. Not the floorboards of old farmhouses, where the boards of a ceiling are the boards of the floor in the room above; more like there is plywood laid across joists and then covered with industrial carpet. Nothing to ruin the stay, just odd.
- Be sure to request a room away from the stairwell (not 307 or 308). It got noisy as other travelers didn’t seem to realize or care that their footsteps and voices carried as they tromped past my door. I didn’t ask to change rooms because that’s not my style (unless the room is dirty).
The location was perfect! I love to walk and the Buchan was ideally situated for me to get everywhere I wanted to go. Located at the top of a hill, it is very close to cafes (be sure to check out Peaked Pies), restaurants, and a grocery store (Safeway). I was able to walk to English Bay Beach in less than 15 minutes, Stanley Park in about 10, and to Gastown in about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace, stopping to photograph the many things which caught my eye.
NOTE: If you have mobility issues, be sure to call and discuss them with the staff. This hotel does not have an elevator and you have steps to navigate from the street to the lobby and then, onto the upper levels.
Would I Stay Here Again? Yes, the location makes it the perfect place to explore Vancouver.
High Points: Water pressure, cleanliness, and location.
Low Points: Nothing that would cause me to recommend avoiding the Buchan. I find it strange that you can’t have food in your room but I understand the need to prevent critters from making reservations. Thankfully, I didn’t see any evidence of rodentia during my stay, otherwise this review would be on a completely different hotel. 😁
I look forward to visiting Vancouver again and when I do, I will stay at the Buchan. If you are headed to Rain City, do yourself a favor and check out it out for your next Vancouver adventure!
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments!