I needed one night in Vancouver after my flight over in Cathay Pacific Premium Economy. Since my flight arrived after midnight, I decided to stay close to the airport. Vancouver actually has a hotel directly connected to the terminal, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport. I hadn’t stayed at a Fairmont since 2003, so I looked forward to seeing the brand again. Note that while convenient, you certainly pay for the privilege. I paid CAD 311 (~$236) for a standard room; that’s pretty pricey for Vancouver in late October.
Scott reviewed this hotel a couple of years ago; very little has changed, though prices appear to have increased.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my weekend trip to Canada last October. Click here for the trip report introduction and post index.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
- 3111 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC, Canada
- Website: https://www.fairmont.com/vancouver-airport-richmond
- Features: connected to airport terminal, golf cart service to terminal, business center, airline check-in kiosk, fish storage, spa, fitness center, pool, restaurant and bar, executive lounge
Directly connected to the Vancouver International Airport terminal. After claiming your bags, look for the signs for International/USA departures.
Then, follow the signs marked “Hotel” through the check-in area.
At the end of the international/USA check-in area, you’ll find the escalators to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport.
Once up the escalators, just head down the corridor to the lobby.
After departing customs and immigration, it took probably 10 minutes to reach the hotel.
Date of Stay: Friday, October 18, 2019
Check-In and Common Areas
Given that I arrived at check-in approaching 1 am PDT, what I really wanted was an efficient check-in. Thankfully, with nobody else checking in at that hour, a friendly associate had me on my way in just a couple of minutes. I requested a “stand-by upgrade” to a runway view room for an additional CAD 19 (~$14). Much to my delight, the clerk confirmed my upgrade as she checked me in.
Though the hotel was built in 1999, the lobby still looks fresh. It does feel a little bit dark, though. That’s probably due to the lobby’s location a bit removed from any exterior windows.
Meanwhile, guestroom floors look similarly fresh considering the hotel’s age. Large windows at the elevator banks provide nice views of one set of the airport’s runways.
With such a late arrival, I didn’t have time to explore the amenities, or try the restaurant. There is a pool, fitness center, and business center, along with a restaurant and bar. For a hotel with 386 rooms, though, the amenities seemed a little light. Even the lobby’s pretty small for a hotel this size. It seems the hotel’s focus is on short stays before an early/after a late flight. That makes sense, I suppose.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Guest Rooms
As mentioned, I booked a standard “Fairmont Room”, but received a paid upgrade to a runway view room. The room itself is straight ahead from the door, with the bathroom to the left.
I’ll start with the bathroom since it’s up front. It’s quite large, with a deep soaking tub and separate walk-in shower.
Fairmont uses Le Labo Rose 31 toiletries. I’d heard of Rose 31 as a (very) expensive perfume, but didn’t know they made toiletries under the name. I enjoyed the shower gel, which had a complex yet not overpowering scent.
Moving on to the room, it, too, felt rather spacious compared to your typical airport hotel. The website claims 411 square feet, which feels about right. Even with a king bed, there’s still plenty of room to move around. My only complaint – the room felt rather austere. It didn’t look particularly luxurious, contrary to what the Fairmont brand suggests.
There’s a small chair in one corner, perfect for planespotting out the window during the day.
Speaking of planespotting, the Fairmont provides what I think is a first. That’s right, an official planespotting guide. Very helpful for budding avgeeks!
I did indeed take advantage of the planespotting the next morning. From a runway view room, you really do get a nice view of the ramp areas and terminal. As an added bonus, you can also see the area’s beautiful wooded mountains in the distance.
In the other corner is a reasonably sized work desk and chair. On the side closest to the TV are two power plugs and two USB ports.
Meanwhile, there is an oversized flat panel TV right in the center of the room. That’s something I really appreciate, as it makes it easy to watch TV while lying down or working on the bed. Underneath the TV is the minibar and refrigerator. To the right is a helpfully large storage area for luggage.
Speaking of which, if you like to work on the bed, or just have a bunch of gadgets, you won’t find a shortage of plugs. You’ll find a pair of two plugs and two USBs on each side of the bed. Conveniently, they are placed close enough to the head of the bed to plug in and relax.
WiFi is fast and free. I found it fast and stable enough to handle a lengthy FaceTime call with the family the next morning. The bed itself was quite comfortable; I slept soundly until about 8 am the next morning. They also do a good job with soundproofing. Despite the terminal right outside the window, I couldn’t hear any noise the next morning.
Other Unique Hotel Amenities and General Location
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport offers two unique amenities that caught my eye. The first is priority security access for guests who book a “Fairmont Gold” (club level) room. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a hotel, airport or otherwise, that offers such a perk. Gold rooms typically run CAD 100 or more than standard rooms, so I wouldn’t book one just for that. But perhaps the most unique – the “fish valet”. If you’ve come to Canada’s PNW to fish, the hotel will store your catch in their freezer during your stay.
As for location, the airport is a bit “out there”, tucked away in the Sea Island section of Richmond. The good news, though, is you have easy access to the Vancouver light rail system from the airport station. CAD 11-16.50 (depending on day/time) and 25 minutes gets you to the Vancouver city center. You’re also about 15 minutes by train from central Richmond if you’d rather not venture to the city.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Final Thoughts
The hotel does have a couple of notable negatives. The rooms aren’t particularly luxurious, and for a hotel of its size, seems light on amenities. But as a pure airport hotel – a place for a short stay in between flights – it’s really quite good. You can’t beat a property connected to the airport terminal for convenience. And Fairmont’s definitely decided to cater to avgeeks with those airport views. It’s pricey, though, especially compared to off-airport hotels. The Fairmont often runs CAD 100 more than hotels like the Pacific Gateway or Westin Wall Centre. I’m not sure it’s worth that kind of a premium.