99-Year-Old Pub in Downtown Vancouver Still Going Strong: Inside Pat’s

cva99-187Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has recently been caught in the whirl of gentrification controversy, with protestors opposing trendy new shops and eateries.

Lost in the shuffle is some historical perspective: Once upon a time, the streets around Hastings and Main were trendy.  In the early 1900s, the area was the place to go in Vancouver for music and entertainment.  And one of the hottest spots just so happens to still be standing: Pat’s Pub inside the Patricia Hotel.

Pat’s opened in 1914 as the Patricia Cafe, a jazz club.  Big name acts from around the world graced its tiny stage, including the legendary “Jelly Roll” Morton, credited in part with inventing jazz piano.

Nearly 100 years after its opening, Pat’s Pub is still quietly going strong at the corner of Hastings and Dunlevy Streets, offering up jazz and live music every weekend.  And while the surrounding neighbourhood may have fallen into disrepair, the club is as classy as ever.

I checked out the place for the first time on a recent weekend for Jazz @ The Pat Saturdays, a free afternoon concert series featuring some of the city’s top jazz musicians. Continue reading:
99-Year-Old Pub in Downtown Vancouver Still Going Strong: Inside Pat’s

Best Club in Vancouver You’ve Never Heard of: New Orleans Comes to Granville Street

Photo credit: Vancouver Fanclub

There’s a new addition to Granville Street’s bar scene – and it just might be the best venue for live music in Vancouver.

Last month, with very little fanfare, Fanclub opened at Granville and Nelson.  Even from the outside, you can tell there’s something special going on.  In the style of the New Orleans clubs its modeled after, Fanclub is essentially open to the street: large French colonial doors open up to let the sounds of the party going on inside lure passsersby on the sidewalk outside.

Inside, the club is gorgeous – an unexpectedly high-end music venue on the gritty end of the Granville Street drag.  In traditional music hall fashion, it’s an open design, with a soaring 30-foot ceiling and an upper balcony area where you can look down at all the action below.

Down on the main level, there’s a big, horseshoe-shaped bar on one side of the room and a large stage on the other.  The interior is all dark wood, accented by rainbow coloured lighting, which I guess lends a New Orleans Mardi Gras type feel.  There’s also an intimate cocktail bar tucked away in a wood-paneled backroom, when the music gets too loud.

Which brings us to Fanclub’s raison d’être – the music.  Continue reading:
Best Club in Vancouver You’ve Never Heard of: New Orleans Comes to Granville Street

Vancouver Bar Photo contest: Win free dinners for a year

Photo credit: vacantready | Flickr

When I wrote recently on Vancouver’s favourite hotel bars, one name came up over and over again in comments: O’Doul’s – the jazz bar on Robson Street.

Sadly, O’Doul’s days are numbered.  After more than 40 years, the bar and restaurant are closing their doors at the stroke of midnight on June 2.  No more live jazz.  No more fancy little appies (What other bar serves smoked buffalo carpaccio?).  No more artsy refuge for hep cats on Robson.

But don’t despair yet.  To celebrate its long history, the bar (part of the Listel Hotel) is hosting a unique photo contest.  If you’ve taken a snapshot or two at O’Doul’s over the years, now’s the time to dig out those old photos.  Continue reading:
Vancouver Bar Photo contest: Win free dinners for a year

Rooftop Patio on Hotel Georgia Opens for the Summer

Photo credit: Rosewood Hotel Georgia

It may not feel like summer quite yet.  But summer patio season in Vancouver is already heating up.

Among the newest contenders for the city’s coveted best patio title is a little-known lounge on the fourth floor of downtown’s restored 1927 Hotel Georgia: Reflections.

Reflections opened for the first time last summer and largely flew under the radar of die-hard patio fans.  That’s a shame because it has to be among the most sexiest spots to grab a drink anywhere in Vancouver, indoors or out.  But the good news is it just reopened for another season of al fresco cocktails and great people-watching.

But it’s not easy to find (and I think that’s half the fun).  Wander into the venerable lobby of the Hotel Georgia – all hardwood wainscoting and crystal chandeliers – and you won’t see a sign for Reflections anywhere.   Discretely ask the concierge, and he’ll point you to an elevator secreted away in the back of the hotel.

Take that to the fourth floor and prepare for a bit of a surprise.  Continue reading:
Rooftop Patio on Hotel Georgia Opens for the Summer

Quick Guide to Vancouver’s Hotel Bars

Photo credit: vinniee | Flickr

(This post is a follow-up to a You Make the Call!, combining readers’ suggestions).

For many travelers, the most important thing besides a good bed is a good hotel bar.  The best hotel bars offer a dash of international sophistication, a healthy dose of local color, a welcoming atmosphere and, of course, great drinks.

In Vancouver, options range from trendy lounges where you can hobnob for a night with the city’s jet-set to more casual watering holes where you can unwind with a local craft beer.  Here are three suggestions, broken down by personality type:

Continue reading:
Quick Guide to Vancouver’s Hotel Bars

Movies and Martinis: Movie Night at Society Lounge, March 14

Photo Credit: Society

In many movie theatres around the world, it’s possible to enjoy a beer or glass of wine while watching the show.  Not so in Vancouver.  Theatres generally aren’t allowed to serve alcohol during showtimes.

But if you can’t take the bar to the theatre, why not bring the theatre to the bar?  That’s the idea behind the new Movie Night at Society dining lounge in Yaletown.

Once or twice a month, Society – the contemporary club/lounge known for its big pink chandelier and creative cocktails – transforms its upstairs space into a movie theatre, complete with 100-inch projector screen, surround sound and plush seating.

There’s cotton candy, freshly popped popcorn, plus a menu of snacks and drinks that goes way beyond what’s on offer at your typical multiplex.

Continue reading:
Movies and Martinis: Movie Night at Society Lounge, March 14

Best Hotel Bar in Vancouver? You make the call!

Hotel bars are funny things.  Some people absolutely hate them.  Some people love them.

At root, there’s a pretty complex dynamic at work.  Hotel bars are just about the opposite of your local watering hole.  They’re not chummy.  They’re rarely gritty or authentic.  But, done right, that works in their favour.

A good hotel bar, you see, is partly a fantasy.  It’s a little bit classier, a little bit more mysterious, a little bit more exotic than what you might be used to.  You certainly wouldn’t go there all the time – But once in a while, it’s a nice change of pace.

Now, there are plenty of great hotel bars in Vancouver.  Too many, in fact – which is why I’d like your help.

Do have a favourite hotel bar in the city?  A classy, cosmopolitan spot with a nice mix of travelers and locals and great drinks?  Please let us know below. 

I’ll start things off with a hotel bar I visited recently: Xi Shi Lounge in the Shangri-La Hotel.

Continue reading:
Best Hotel Bar in Vancouver? You make the call!