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The modern-day Renaissance man tells T+L about Vancouver, and its mix of high design and natural wonders.

September 11, 2009

“I’ve made a lot of films in Vancouver. The people there are terrific—friendly, hardworking, and good-looking, too. The architecture of the city is beautiful, and it’s changing because of the upcoming Olympics. For many years, the downtown area along the port was overlooked, but now it’s filled with shops, clubs, and restaurants. And you can really see the Chinese influence in the new skyscrapers towering above the sea. I think it’s one of the most exquisite, aesthetically pleasing cities in the world.

There’s often a light rain in Vancouver, which keeps everything green, and because of the Pacific Rim currents, it rarely snows. The Strait of Georgia is very active; it’s home to every imaginable kind of sea life, from whales to sea lions. I’ve enjoyed taking day trips to Victoria, on Vancouver Island. It’s an old city—English fur traders were the first settlers—and it’s filled with stately architecture. From the island, I like to look back at Vancouver. You can see all the way to the mountain ranges outside Seattle.”

Dennis Hopper stars in the new season of Crash on Starz network this fall. Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961–1967, a signed, limited-edition collection of his portraits, is in bookstores now (Taschen, $700).

The city’s newest luxury hotel is the Asian-inspired Shangri-La Vancouver (1128 Georgia St. W.; 866/565-5050; shangri-la.com; doubles from $320).

Great Value Paintings from the Buschlen Mowatt Galleries are on display at the Listel Hotel (1300 Robson St.; 800/663-5491; thelistelhotel.com; doubles from $167).

Coast Restaurant (1054 Alberni St.; 604/685-5010; dinner for two $80) recently reopened in a sleek downtown space with a 20-foot circular raw bar.

Beginning this month, the Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby St.; 604/662-4719; admission $19) will be exhibiting landscape photographs by Canadian artist Scott McFarland.

The Torch Relay leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games (February 12–28; vancouver2010.com) begins in Victoria October 30.

Passenger ferries to Vancouver Island (bcferries.com; tickets $13) depart regularly from Tsawwassen. The ride takes 90 minutes; Victoria can be explored on foot.

Listel Hotel

This 129-room gem of a hotel set on trendy Robson Street doubles as an art gallery. Guests find themselves among remarkable modern sculptures the minute they enter the lobby—including the signature Boaz Vaadia sculpture of a seated person at the entrance, on loan from the local Buschlen Mowatt Gallery. The art theme continues through two “gallery” floors, where each room features unique eclectic furnishings like retro coffee tables and padded headboards. The Listel also has two “museum” floors, where hallways are decorated with cultural treasures including a large Hamatsa mask on loan from the Museum of Anthropology; guest rooms showcase Native-themed pottery and paintings (available for purchase) and contemporary furnishings in north coast cedar and hemlock woods.

Room to Book: Pick your theme: floors 3 and 6 are “museum,” floors 4 and 5 are “gallery,” and floor 2 has pleasant hotel rooms…yet to be themed.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Premier art gallery in the city, exhibiting classic and contemporary art. VAG is undergoing a renovation that will see it moved to a new space sitting on two acres just a few blocks east of the current building. The new design, created by architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, was unveiled in September 2015. 

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver

This downtown luxury hotel is close to high-end shopping and a wide range of restaurants. MARKET, the in-house restaurant, is spearheaded by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a world-renowned Michelin-starred chef, with a focus on seasonal, regional ingredients, particularly fresh seafood.  

Coast Restaurant

Inspired by the classic West Coast seafood restaurant, this downtown eatery serves the freshest daily catch in a spacious, two-story dining room. Teal upholstered chairs and an intricate tiled floor evoke a subtle oceanic theme, while the adjacent cocktail lounge is adorned with plush orange sofas and back-lit columns. In addition to a wide selection of fresh oysters, executive chef Dennis Peckham offers signature dishes such as the cold smoked fish chowder and the crab cake with house-made tartar sauce. For dessert, don’t miss the molten banana coconut cake, prepared tableside in a miniature skillet.

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