10
Feb
09

Love-In at the Loden

This past weekend, the Texas Twister and I spent a night at the Loden Vancouver. Though it had been in the works for more than a week, I’d managed to keep the reservation for our weekend in-town getaway (or “staycation,” if you must) from her until that morning, Saturday. I kept it quiet for a couple of reasons, one of which was that I figured I could only take one day of her jumping around and proclaiming, “I love luxury! Why can’t we live like this all the time! Can I get a milk bath there?!”

The first Canadian venture by the international hotel chain Kor, the Loden had completely evaded my radar since opening in October of last year. Then again, that’s not saying much—I miss a lot. And the Loden, named one of “our favourite new hotels” by the New York Times, might be a little more low-key in its approach than many. For one thing, it’s on Melville, a downtown street that, despite its proximity to Robson Street shopping and Coal Harbour gazing, even some locals can’t find. (Noah, this means you.)

For another, its ambience is anything but loud and flashy. The best hotels are the ones in which, as soon as you walk in through the front door, transport you into another world; with ambient music in the halls, quartz and crystal rocks in the lobby, mixed-media work by local artist Michele Kambolis, and warm chocolate brown and caramel hues, the 14-story, 70-suite Loden has a spa-like atmosphere, even away from the spa (there’s one on the second floor). In New York, you can spend twice as much on a  room that’s half as nice, and be treated like you just walked into the lobby with a goatherd. In Vancouver, the Loden proves you can get a nice room and great service for a decent price.

Part of the Loden Love-In package, a tray of specialty chocolates awaited us in our room. From our 11th floor window we could see, between the condo, business and hotel towers that took up most of the view, a sliver of mountains. A soaker tub, tiled floors and partitions that open and close depending on one’s degree of modesty lent the bathroom a distinctive look. (Metrosexual that I am, I also loved the Molton Brown products.) Technology-wise, a 42″ LCD screen, surround-sound speakers and an iPod port added to the sleekness of the room. But perhaps the most modern touches were the reusable shopping bag (part of a green initiative) and yoga mat (to go with the 24-hour yoga channel).

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The Loden also has a penthouse suite. Early Saturday evening I shared the elevator with a bartender escorting a trolley full of beer, spirits and mix to the top floor. I thought briefly about not getting off on our floor and following her up to the party, but realized that probably wasn’t part of the Love-In package—not even the Love-In Deluxe.

The Loden’s attention to detail extends to the lounge of its Voya Restaurant. We were treated to a complimentary Getaroom cocktail (fresh watermelon, silver tequila, peach bitters), also part of the Love-In package, prepared by mixologist Jay Jones. The drink menu was a mix of  classics (like the Twentieth Century) and exclusives created by Jones, who specializes in what he calls “alcohol-forward” drinks. I.e., you can taste the booze.

Jay Jones and one of his Voya concoctions.

Jay Jones and one of his Voya concoctions.

To go with our cocktails, the Twister and I ordered the most exotic-looking item on t e bar menu, the grilled and fried calamari with merguez (spicy lamb) stuffing and squid ink aioli, and almost got into a fight over the last piece.

Sunday morning, we were back in the restaurant part of Voya for our Love-In brunch. I went for the free-range eggs, the Twister for the smoked salmon benedict, although some of the non-eggy items—the grilled serrano & camembert sandwich, for instance, and the steamed green curry mussels—looked tempting. Meanwhile, I noticed that, over at the bar, the bartender from the elevator was back at work. “How was the party?” I asked, imagining a debauched stagette where the male stripper was lucky to escape with his G-string.

“Pretty low-key,” she replied. All told, she’d served about 50 people, and the party hadn’t gotten out of hand. The birthday girl, she said, was pregnant. Probably just as well I didn’t follow her up, after all.

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