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While planning your family trip to Vancouver, there are two points to consider: whether or not to stay at a Downtown Vancouver location and whether or not you should bring--or rent--a car.
Five Reasons You Should Stay in Downtown Vancouver: Generally, it's best to stay in Downtown Vancouver or near the downtown core. The closer you are to Downtown's Granville Street, the closer you are to the Canada Line / SkyTrain rapid transit (Vancouver's metro), which makes it easier to get around Vancouver without a car. Near Granville Street, you're also close to Downtown attractions, sightseeing tours, shopping, and dining, as well as supermarkets and drug stores.
Many families come to Vancouver in a car; that is, they drive rather than fly or take the train. If you are traveling to Vancouver with your car, be aware that most hotels and accommodations in Vancouver have a parking fee, i.e., an additional cost for parking your car on-site overnight, and that you will likely have to pay for parking everywhere you go in Vancouver. (Seriously: everywhere.) That said, for families with little kids--say, age ten and under--having a car is the ideal way to get around Vancouver.
Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver
Let's start with the fantasy. The Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver is one of the best luxury hotels in the city. Its amenities for families include rooms with two double beds (to sleep four), babysitting services, an outdoor pool, and a full-service on-site restaurant with a children's menu.
Walking distance to: Canada Line rapid transit, casual dining, Downtown attractions, Gastown
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel
Also on situated on the Downtown waterfront, this luxury Marriott is perfect for families for kids, offering rooms with two double beds (to sleep four) or adjoining rooms with a connecting door, an indoor swimming pool and kids' play area (ideal for rainy days/winter travel), and help with babysitting arrangements. You can also request a crib or additional roll-away bed.
Walking distance to: Canada Line rapid transit, casual dining, Downtown attractions
This is another family-friendly Vancouver hotel with a great location: it sits between Downtown Vancouver and Yaletown, one of Vancouver's best neighborhoods. Yaletown is typically known for its (adult-oriented) nightlife and dining, but it's a great place to stay with kids as well. It's safe and there are plenty of neighborhood grocery stores and pharmacies, casual dining options, and nearby parks.
The Moda Hotel has rooms with two double beds (to sleep four) and adjoining room options, complimentary cribs, and additional roll-away beds for a fee.
Cost: Mid-range to High-end
Walking distance to: Canada Line rapid transit, Downtown attractions and shopping (close to Pacific Centre Mall), casual dining, Yaletown
Times Square Suites Hotel
Located in the West End near Stanley Park, the Times Square Suites Hotel is a great budget option for families. It's highly recommended by Lora Shinn, who runs the travel site Cascadia Kids. There are one- and two-bedroom suites that can sleep up to six, and all of the suites have a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and a living room area.
Cost: Low-end to Mid-range
Walking distance to: Denman Street dining, Coal Harbour waterfront, supermarkets, drug stores
Rosellen Suites at Stanley Park
Another budget-friendly option in the West End, Rosellen Suites is practically across the street from Stanley Park, which means you should plan to have a care if staying in this location. Quiet and safe, this hotel has two-bedroom suites that can sleep six and a full kitchen. There are also coin-operated laundry facilities on-site.
Walking distance to: Stanley Park
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Situated in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, the luxury Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is one of the city's most historic hotels.If you have older kids who will get a kick out of it--and not be spooked--you can tell them it's also home to one of Vancouver's most famous ghosts, the "Lady in Red".
The hotel offers rooms with two twin beds, two double beds (to sleep four), and suites, an indoor swimming pool, a kids' pool, and full-service on-site restaurants, and can also arrange babysitting services.
Walking distance to: Canada Line rapid transit, Downtown attractions and shopping, entertainment, and nightlife, casual dining
Granville Island Hotel
Granville Island is one of Vancouver's Top 10 Attractions and so much fun for kids. It's home to the famous Granville Island Public Market (where you can buy fresh and local foods), Granville Island Kids Market (which has an indoor playground), grassy parks and a free spray water park (summer only). You can use the Aquabus or False Creek Ferry to travel to Downtown or Science World.
The Granville Island Hotel has rooms with double beds (sleeps four) and a full-service on-site restaurant.
One of my Top 10 Hotels in Downtown Vancouver, the historic Sylvia Hotel is the only hotel in Downtown Vancouver that's on the beach. The Sylvia has one-bedroom suites that can sleep four and have full kitchens; you can also pay for a crib or additional roll-away bed.
Like the Rosellen Suites, you will likely want to use a car from this location, which otherwise requires a lot of walking.
Walking distance to: English Bay Beach, casual dining on Denman Street
Days Inn Vancouver Downtown
To be clear: Yes, this is a Days Inn. In many cities, a Days Inn would be actually inexpensive, not just relatively inexpensive. In Vancouver, at this location, this Days Inn is only relatively inexpensive. Temper your expectations of price.
That said, the Days Inn Vancouver Downtown is in a great Downtown location, mid-way between the waterfront and Downtown attractions. It has rooms with two double beds (to sleep four) as well as suites, with cribs available for an additional fee.
Walking distance to: Canada Line rapid transit, Downtown attractions and shopping, casual dining
Budget-Friendly: If you will have a car in Vancouver, check out Days Inn Vancouver Metro (2075 Kingsway). It's outside the downtown core, in southeast Vancouver, which means it's often half the price of the Days Inn Vancouver Downtown.
AirBnB & VRBO
Sometimes, the best family-friendly place to stay in Vancouver isn't a hotel at all, but an AirBnB or VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). This is especially true if you're planning a long stay (over a week). With an AirBnB or VRBO, you can choose to rent an entire house or condo, complete with kitchen and laundry, which can be a better budget option for long stays.
If you want to search for an AirBnB or VRBO, read How to Use AirBnB in Vancouver first. (It works for VRBOs, too). In it, I explain how to search for Vancouver rentals using local neighborhood names and terms, so you get the best location for your needs.
Tip: Be sure to ask about parking. Some rentals will have complimentary parking, but not all do.