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Local Top List

Top Local in YAH Global

Top Not-So-Public Bathrooms in Downtown Vancouver!

 

We've all done the dance. Some are better at hiding it than others but we've all been there. You're having a great day, on vacation perhaps, out shopping with friends or just cruising along the city sidewalks. You most likely have had one too many cappuccinos or bottles of aqua and all of a sudden its “go time!”. You look around casually trying to identify the nearest public restroom only to find no such structure. Even the worse case scenario construction zone blue boxes from the very depths of hell have been taken away from the vicinity. The only non back alley options left are the local businesses, which are usually a last resort for passive individuals given the often rude responses to your inquiry of restroom availability by local staff; “Sorry, employees only” or “Only for paying customers” and the real kicker “Out Of Order” sign. Since there is no time to apply, interview and get the job and nor do you feel like plopping down hard earned cash for something you don't need, you're pretty much stuck. That's why we created this most valuable list to keep in your memory banks or mobile notepad.

Below you will find Vancouver's truly hidden gems, the secret stash of not so public restrooms where you can handle your business without the eye of employees or security watching your fresh in the door, A to B line straight to that male or female symbol (or better yet the holy grail of bathrooms icon - the “family room”) decorated entry in the back.

1

The Fairmont - Hotel Vancouver

900 West Georgia Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

People are used to sneaking into Best Westerns, Holiday Inns and the like, should “inspiration” strike at a moments notice, but hotels like the Fairmont are quite a bit more intimidating. If you don't have a room key card in the sleeve of your wallet, you feel as if all eyes are on you as you pass through the halls of such a lavish interior. All of a sudden you start assessing your wardrobe and wonder if you “fit in” as your eyes nervously scan for the restroom sign. Even when its location is uncovered, some of you lose your nerve, vacate the premises immediately and opt for the nearest Starbucks, trading the risk of someone asking what room you occupy for the likelihood of that damn “occupied” sign beaming it back at you in its cruel red toned glory for 30 minutes at said cafe's bathroom door, leaving you certain that someone must be taking a nap inside. You then recall statistics about how “holding it” decreases your fertility or negatively impacts your bladder control later in life. “Should have went at the hotel!” you think to yourself, “This whole ordeal would be done with and I'd already be back shopping on Robson Street.”.

 

Well fear not. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Georgia Street has an easy access restroom along the main lobby, with enough “in and out” traffic that no one will notice as you pass confidently on by to the classy brass door knob-bedd entryways of either the men's, women's, or family room all side by side and confined in a small closeted section beside the hotels main lounge. Once inside, you will witness a bathroom that you could very well take a nap in (don't!), complete with hand towels and dim lit mirrors that seem to magically remove every blemish and make you look like a movie star. You'll leave refreshed and feeling great about yourself.

2

Hyatt Regency Vancouver

655 Burrard Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

The Hyatt Regency Vancouver is another luxury bathroom gem found on this list. This Hyatt location is not as upscale feeling as the above Fairmont, but what it lacks in Victorian architecture and décor, it makes up for in layout. First off, there is a public cafe within, which used to be an “in house” joint now converted to Starbucks. What this means to you, outside of being one more place to grab a latte (probably what got you in this “bind” in the first place), is that management is accustomed to the general population passing through their establishment. Simply head to the back area of the lobby to the hallway past the elevators and you will find a perfectly convenient, clean and well maintained restroom nestled into the corner with barely a person in site. If you feel adventurous, or in the mood to browse the hotel, head on up the escalators and you will find lavoratories on the second and third levels that also have great lighting, art on the walls and other fancy fixtures. Happy trails!

3

HomeSense

493 Robson Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

The above two locations should take care of your north of Granville St. emergency needs whereas HomeSense found on the second floor of a business/residential complex, above IGA Grocery and overlooking both Robson Street and Richards is the best place to run to when you are on this downward sloping part of the strip. Its a straight path off of the European styled escalators (the going “up” escalator is on the opposite left side of the movator staircase) and towards the back of the store near the appropriately positioned bathroom accessories. Aside from employees, few people venture in there so its all quite clean and spacious. The only downside is that the unique selection of knick knacks and home fixtures are such a bargain at this brand name discount store that you inevitably find something you “must have” for the home, on the way out to the backwards escalator you came in on.

4

Holiday Inn

1110 Howe Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

Granville Street is where you'll find yourself in the most trouble when it comes to spontaneous urges, due to the fact that you may have just spent time in this entertainment hub “watering up” via bar, lounge or pub and are now on a “walkabout” of the area. You may not want to deal with the immense mall (Pacific Centre) traffic, if its open, nor face the wait and most likely post apocalyptically nasty coffee shop and fast food chain bathrooms nearby. Instead, walk up Helmken Street one quarters worth of a real block to Howe Street, to the Holiday Inn and head straight towards the elevators in the back where you will find the restrooms. It's a Holiday Inn, so you know what to expect; simple, clean with no frills or gimmicks.

5

Starbucks

Nelson & Homer Street, Yaletown Vancouver

 

We fully intended on keeping all cafes off of this list, for the reasons you find peppered in the above paragraphs, but we needed to include a Yaletown location for your benefit and this area found on the outskirts of Downtown Vancouver is one of the most elusive with respect to the topic at hand, yet one of the most dire given the fact that it is a major dining and entertainment district and as with Granville Street mentioned prior to this, you may find yourself regrettably leaving a bar or lounge but not taking one last trip to the restroom, with the same neglect you made as a child, parents in the front seat of the car pre-road trip begging of you one last time to let them know if you had “to go” before embarking on the journey. The Starbucks located on the backend of the stone park on Nelson and Homer Street, at the entrance ways of Yaletown's two main drags; Mainland and Hamilton, is nothing like the other chains in the downtown core. Turn right when you walk into this location and there are two spacious and clean , oak (?) decorated rooms that never seem to be occupied no matter the time of day. The classy nature of this trendy little neighborhood brings a clientele into the Starbucks that neither lingers in nor litters the restroom, so please apply the same consideration and become an official member of this social gathering place (yes, the bathroom).


Best People Watching Patios In Downtown Vancouver

Rain or Shine (usually rain), you'll find an eclectic group of people out and about on the streets of downtown Vancouver no matter the time of day, either on their way to and from work, browsing the unique shops in the area, hunting for something to sooth their cravings or simply going for a stroll. Tourists are in season 365 days a year here which adds to the traffic flow. All of this movement makes for one of the most entertaining and cost effective activities in the city; people watching. Patio seating was created for this purpose. Although you are the one technically sitting in a makeshift "cage", the passerbyers are the ones subject to viewing, inspection, and of course the most amusing part, judgement. Perhaps the lions, tigers and baboons kept at the nations zoos feel the same way? The following list details the best places in downtown Vancouver to sit "store" front, beverage in hand and soak up the scenes and characters found frolicking about this fine city.

1

Starbucks @ Robson/Thurlow (West)

1301 Robson Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

This Starbucks location is the undisputed champion of people watching positioning in the downtown core of Vancouver. All of the locals know this so finding a seat may be tricky. The patio wraps around the corner of Robson and Thurlow street, the center of Vanouver's most popular shopping district, so expect close quartered seating with plenty of shopping bags to navigate en route to the exit or bathroom should you find yourself seated in one of the corners or bookended between tables. If you are new to the area and don't already know this, you DON'T go to the Starbucks directly kiddy cornered across the street. Although its interior is much nicer and newly renovated, everyone knows that this is the coach or economy class of the two locations when it comes to seeing and being seen in Vancity.

2

Yaletown Brew Pub

1111 Mainland Street, Yaletown, Vancouver

 

Yaletown is hipness, pretention, and anti-trend trendiness all rolled up into one. Its where everyone flocks to if they want to avoid the madness of Robson or Granville Street but still want to be in the "mix". This district packs in a juxtaposition full of shops and eateries that are either long standing hot spots or are here one day, gone the next businesses that fall to the waste side from extremely high leases and/or following trends no longer in vogue. The crowd in Yaletown refelects, or vice versa, the description above and you are sure to see a large portion of Vancouver's "pretty people" carousing back and forth between Hamilton and Mainland Streets, Yaletown's main drags. 

 

Yaletown Brew Pub is one of those long standing hot spots that packs in a crowd on a regular basis. The patio runs along Mainland St and up Helmcken St enough to capture a good enough view of the comings and goings of this uber hip community. It's also a fun place to eat, drink and hang out regardless your motives.

3

Blenz Coffee @ Robson/Burrard

992 Robson Street, Downtown Vancouver

 

Sure the Starbucks listed at number one above laughs at this Blenz Coffee location as playing second fiddle to its ability to play "eye spy" with the people traffic in the area, but this location is no slouch in said arena. Blenz Coffee on Robson/Burrard is found at the genesis of the Robson Street strip, where it all really begins. You have a flow of people coming and going from the nearby luxury hotels, the best downtown movie theater (Scotia Bank Cinemas), as well the Art Gallery and HMV, home to the biggest selection of CD's and DVD's in B.C., all within a small stones throw. The bottom line is that everyone who shops, walks, entertains or eats in the vicinity has to pass through this corridor and Blenz Coffee on Robson/Burrard is perfectly situated to catch all the action.

4

Provence

1177 Marinaside Crescent, Yaletown, Vancouver

 

Provence Restaurant is a part of Yaletown but found along the waters edge in the False Creek Harbor on aptly named MarinaSide Crescent. All of the pretense you may find in Yaletown is left across the street. Instead the patio at Provence opens the blinds to a beautiful view of the still waters of False Creek, with fitness enthusiasts biking, jogging, rollerblading, or attending boot camp class on the nearby grass, along this stretch of the famed Vancouver Sea Wall. Young family units walk dogs and people strolling by hold their coffee cups close in comfort from the brisk oceanside air. Where the other items on this list provide you plenty to talk and smirk about, the patio seating at Provence would rather leave you with a sense of refreshment and happy thoughts, albeit at a higher expense.

5

Cafe Crepe

874 Granville Street, between Robson and Smithe, Downtown Vancouver

 

Cafe Crepe is a downtown Vancouver staple, although this location is fairly new in the grand scheme of things. The other two are smaller and dont have very good seating. The patio at 874 Granville Street is perfectly placed beside Vancouver's best known concert hall landmarks, the Commodore Ballroom and The Orpheum, which depending on the acts in town, can provide for some very interesting characters seen standing in line around Cafe Crepe. Granville Street is Vancouver's Entertainment Row and thus there is no shortage of action on the strip. You could spend hours at Cafe Crepe watching the variety of human beings (and some questionables) go back and forth in search of something. A few celebrities have been known to frequent this establishment when in town, such as local funny man made big, Seth Rogan, so some of the excitement can actually take place within the metal borders of the outside dining area of Cafe Crepe.