The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, formerly and commonly referred to as the Hotel Vancouver, is a historic hotel in Vancouver. Located along West Georgia Street the hotel is situated within the city's Financial District, in Downtown Vancouver. The hotel was designed by two architects, John Smith Archibald, and John Schofield. The hotel is presently managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
Opened in May 1939, the Châteauesque-styled building is considered one of Canada's grand railway hotels. The hotel stands 112.47 m, and contains 17 floors. Following its completion, the hotel became the tallest building in Vancouver until the completion of TD Tower in 1972.
Hotel Vancouver is one of Canada's grand railway hotels, initially built by Canadian National Railway. Although construction for the hotel began in 1929, its completion would not occur until 1939 as a result of funding issues during the Great Depression. The completion of the hotel required a joint investment into the property from Canadian Pacific Hotels, a division of Canadian Pacific Railway.
The hotel was a part of series of Chateauesque grand railway hotels built throughout Canada in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Like the other grand railway hotels, Hotel Vancouver incorporates elements from chateaus found in France's Loire Valley. Chateauesque features found on Hotel Vancouver includes its prominent copper pitched roof with dormers, and carved stonework encompassing a steel frame. In addition to chateauesque elements found on most grand railway hotels, Hotel Vancouver also incorporates Renaissance architectural detailings, gargoyles, and relief sculptures.
Plans to develop a railway hotel at the present site of Hotel Vancouver first emerged in the 1920s, from Canadian Northern Railway. In 1929 work on the present Hotel Vancouver commenced for Canadian National Railway. Canadian National Railway built the hotel as a result of a land deal between the city, and Canadian Northern Railway, a company later acquired by Canadian National Railway. The land deal required the city to prepare tidal flats on False Creek for the construction of railway yards and Pacific Central Station. In return, the company guaranteed the construction of a large downtown hotel, and make the city the western terminus for its rail network.
Shortly after the erection of the building's steel frame however, work on the hotel was halted, as a result of the Great Depression. Work did not resume on the building until 1937, when Canadian National Railway partnered with Canadian Pacific Railway to complete the new hotel. Work on the hotel was rushed to completion in time for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's 1939 royal tour of Canada. The hotel was the third hotel in the city to use the name "Hotel Vancouver". In an effort to prevent competition with the new Hotel Vancouver, Canadian Pacific Railway, closed its hotel operations at the second Hotel Vancouver once the new hotel opened. The second Hotel Vancouver building was torn down in 1949, after Canadian Pacific sold the property to Eaton's in December 1948.
During the mid-20th century, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio stations were located within Hotel Vancouver. On 1 May 1940, Dal Richards began his career playing in an 11-piece band and a then-unknown 13-year-old Juliette at the hotel's Panorama Roof Ballroom, an event space at Hotel Vancouver. Richard became a regular performer for The Roof, a CBC Radio show broadcast from the hotel.
In 1962, Canadian National Hotels, a division of Canadian National Railway, acquired Canadian Pacific Hotels' share of the property, gaining full ownership of the hotel. From 1963 to 1983, the hotel was managed by Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Canadian National Hotels resumed management of the hotel in 1983, after its management contract with Hilton ended. In 1988 Canadian National Hotels sold its remaining nine properties, including Hotel Vancouver, to Canadian Pacific Hotels. In 2001, Canadian Pacific Hotels was reorganized as Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, adopting the name from an American company it had purchased in 1999. The hotel's name was changed to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver as a part of this re-branding effort. In 2007 Fairmont Hotels and Resorts sold 25 hotel properties, including Hotel Vancouver, to Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, although Fairmont continues to manage the hotel. In 2015, the property was sold to Larco Enterprise for C$180 million.
In preparation for the building's 80th anniversary, the hotel underwent a C$12 million renovation of the hotel lobby, restaurant, and guest rooms. The renovations took place from 2014 to 2018.