Versante Hotel and Bruno YVR
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’re no doubt thinking about ways to mark the holiday of love, either for your special someone, a friend, or even for yourself.
But also, we’re three years into a global pandemic, so let’s be real, anything big is out. But small and thoughtful? Yeah, that we can still do.
The older I get, the harder I find it to shop for gifts. The reality is, I don’t want to buy things for my loved ones that are just going to be one more thing on the pile. I want to get them something they’ll genuinely appreciate, and over the past few years, that thing has increasingly been experiences. That means I don’t really get them a thing, I get them something that we can do together. That we get to spend time together (which is the most important thing), and we also get to do something together that we enjoy. It’s a win-win. Your presence is the present. Get it?
I find myself currently in a relationship with a lovely human these last couple of months. It’s a weird time to start a relationship just before Christmas, so my suggestion was that we not get each other presents, but instead book ourselves a night in a hotel with a nice dinner in January in the middle of the week. And it was perfect.
You could book something for Valentine’s Day, but let’s be real; it’s gonna be busy. If you can, play hooky from work in the middle of the week, leave the kids at their grandparents, and disappear for a blissful 24 hours. Just don’t post it on your social media, your boss does not need to know! 😉
We booked at the newly opened Versante Hotel, because I’d heard a buzz about it since it opened a few months earlier.
Where is the Versante Hotel?
Versante Hotel is located near the River Rock in Richmond (and just a short jaunt from the airport).
What is the Versante Hotel?
Versante is a luxury boutique hotel. I know, I know, those are words, but what do they mean?
When you go to most chain hotels, what you get is a cookie cutter kind of experience. And certainly there’s nothing wrong with that. You know what you’re going to get, and that’s comforting. But when you go to a luxury boutique hotel, you expect that things are going to be a little more special. And at Versante, they are.
From the moment you pull up, there’s a valet there to park your car and take your things. The lobby is fairly small and unassuming but bright and cheerfully decorated.
Enter your room, though, and this is where you know you are not in a cookie-cutter hotel. The decor is bright and funky, a touch whimsical. Our room had a focus wall with bright wallpaper, a lounge area, a dressing area with mini fridge and coffee and a desk/workspace. Our little entrance had a credenza, which I love because I like to have a place to throw my keys and stuff and when I walk in. The bathroom was pure luxury; it was almost bigger than the room itself.
For me, when I go to a hotel, and I’ve stayed at quite a few luxury hotels, it’s the little things that really make it luxurious. For example, take the bathroom. Heated floors? Yes. Cozy plush bathrobes. Oui. Double vanity and amazing lighting? Affirmative. Luxury toiletries and lots of them? Yep. Big shower with a rainfall showerhead? Uh-huh. Big ol’ soaker tub with a view? OH YEAH.
Toiletries come from Red Flower, and included everything you need (including bath salts for the bath!), as well as cotton balls, q-tips, a shower cap and a little sewing kit. The hairdryer was a Dyson, and the towels were plush.
What I loved so much about the bathroom was that it had floor to ceiling windows, so that while you’re taking a shower or a bath, you can look out the windows. Wait! I know what you’re thinking. If you can look out, can’t people look in? Nope. The windows have this special tint thing that you can control via the TV and remote in your room.
In fact, the TV and remote act as a kind of nerve centre for your room. You control the temperature, the lights, the windows, all via the computer in your TV.
Everything here is electronic. Our room had its own doorbell, and instead of a doorknob hanger to ask for privacy to get your room made up, there’s a button on a panel that you push. The lights all had preprogrammed settings. They would come on at certain a certain brightness if you choose “morning” or “night” or “relax.” How cool is that?
The in-room coffee makers are Nespresso, and you know how I feel about Nespresso. There was also a variety of teas available to us, as well as complimentary water, juice and Pelligrino in the mini bar.
We had a cozy, big, plush king sized bed that was super comfortable.
Versante Hotel Amenities
There’s a gorgeous outdoor heated saltwater pool and hot tub. Our timing wasn’t the greatest–a different time of the year would have been warmer and more conducive, but next time! There is also a full gym.
The hotel is pet-friendly, as well, and the wi-fi was free and fast.
Helmed by Chef Lew, who is no stranger to luxury hotel restaurants, Bruno is focused on creating a communal experience. A chunk of the menu is taken up with family-style platters or boards. These serve an entire group or family, and the choices include a local duck with all the fixings, a ribeye steak, or two seafood options. These are served family-style at one of the large tasting tables in the restaurant.
There were two things I really loved about my dining experience at Bruno. The first was the service. Both times we ate there (dinner and breakfast) the service was impeccable. Not too much, not too little, just right. The servers are obviously well chosen and trained.
The second is the focus that the Chef puts on plating and serving really gorgeous food. The expression is that you eat with your eyes first, and the plating is so creative and beautiful here. Much of the flowers and other garnishes come from local farms, and the menu is very inspired by locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
So, yeah. Am I encouraging you to perhaps behave badly and abandon all your responsibilities for a day or so and run away to a luxury hotel for a bit? Absolutely. But here’s the thing: you haven’t gone anywhere in two years. You have probably saved a bunch of money from all the times you didn’t travel or eat out. Take that money and go spoil yourself and someone you love. Even if that someone is just you. It’s been a stressful two years, and a little self-care is very much in order.