Vancouver CityGuide: Coal Harbour

The vibe: Rodeo Drive meets South Beach.

August 13, 2018

By Vancouver magazine / Photo: Tourism Vancouver

The neighbourhood with the seemingly grittiest name is also one of the city’s poshest (and newest), its waterfront towers attracting big spenders and the designer stores to court them. While technically a block north of the ’hood, the tony Alberni Street shopping district is home to some of the finest designer stores in the city—think Prada, YSL and Versace. But you’ll find quiet spots along the seawall, too: pack a picnic for Devonian Harbour Park and watch the seaplanes land.

To Do: Take to the Skies

You might think of seaplanes mainly as point-to-point business transport, but you’d be missing out. There’s no better way to take in a view of the mountains, ocean and skyline than from a scenic seaplane tour from Harbour Air (1055 Canada Pl., harbourair.com). Book a quick jaunt over and around the city or, to make a day trip of it, schedule a picnic run to a remote alpine lake. Tours from $95.

3 Places to Shop

Off-White
1076 Alberni St., off—white.com
Limited-run streetwear, just-askew-enough design details only the fashion-woke will notice, and an under-the-radar alleyway storefront make Off-White (the so-cool-it-hurts label from Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh) a must visit.

Van Cleef & Arpels Vancouver

Van Cleef and Arpels
1069 Alberni St., vancleefarpels.com
The 122-year-old Parisian brand’s new flagship is like an old-world shop meets museum meets speakeasy, with treats ranging from candy-perfect quatrefoil charms to showstopping gobstopper gems.

Blubird
1055 Alberni St., blubird.ca
Tucked alongside Versace, Prada and Hermès on Alberni Street is this cheerful contemporary mini-department store with a well-curated selection of new labels. On the racks, it’s femininity without the froufrou: think bold Opening Ceremony jackets, kicky Derek Lam dresses and cheeky slogan necklaces from Bing Bang.

Local Picks

Featuring: Sabrine DhaliwalBartender and Brand Ambassador for Belvedere, VanMag Bartender of the Year

What’s your favourite Treat-Yourself Splurge?
Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Pacific Rim

“No-phone zone, hydrotherapy experience shower, infrared sauna, meditation pods…shall I go on?” 1038 Canada Pl., fairmont.com

Where’s the Best Place to Chill Out in Coal Harbour?
Coal Harbour Park

“It’s very peaceful. There’s something calming about listening to children laughing and playing in the background as I sit there overlooking the harbour, watching boats come in and seaplanes land.” 323 Jervis St.

Food & Drink: Old Neighbourhood Favourites

Bella Gelateria
1001 W Cordova St., bellagelateria.com
Fill your cone with world-class gelato from Bella Gelateria, which has been beating out generations-old Italian gelatiers for international awards for nearly a decade. The locally developed flavours have a distinct Pacific Rim twist like black sesame, buko pandan and Vancouver Island sea salt.

Kamei Royale
1066 W Hastings St., kameiroyale.com
In 1976, before there was a sushi place on every corner, Kamei Royale presented the cuisine as spectacle, with chefs performing on a tableside robata grill and servers in full formal kimono. Competition has grown since, but this spot still makes each meal feel like an event—from matcha-infused tempura to lobster sashimi. The happy hour menu (craft pitchers for $15, heaping plates of takoyaki) is among the best in the city.

Real Estate: New Developments

Coal Harbour Ups the Cool Factor. Famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma—who is designing the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—throws a few curves into the Coal Harbour landscape with Alberni by Kuma, a 43-storey tower at Alberni and Cardero that features a concave shape. Borrowing from traditional Japanese design, the building will be surrounded by trees and moss, and partially clad in a wood screen to echo the nature that surrounds, while anodized aluminum and glass add some serious sparkle.

Did you Know?

In the 1850s, before the area was called Coal Harbour, it was a small neighbourhood known as Kanaka Ranch, with many of its inhabitants hailing from Hawaii. Theyʼd been sailors, swimmers and navigators on ships crossing the Pacific before settling down in what was then a port town.

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