The lucrative Stay Richmond promotion would take care of my accommodations for three nights in the Metro Vancouver area.
As part of this promotion (which usually runs once per year in the fall), almost all of the airport hotels near Vancouver International Airport were offering $100–125 American Express gift cards for the first night of your stay, with a $50 gift card for each subsequent night as well.
As a result, the best deal could be obtained by hotel-hopping between different hotels and claiming the $125 Amex gift card every night, which is exactly what I had planned among the Sheraton, Marriott, and Hilton Vancouver Airport.
Furthermore, after Stay Richmond made the booking at each hotel on my behalf, I was able to reach out to the hotel individually to attach my Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors loyalty numbers, so that I’d earn rewards points and elite qualifying nights during my stay, all while benefiting from ongoing promotions and making use of my Titanium and Diamond elite benefits.
These three hotels are all located on the same city block about a 5-minute ride from the airport on a shared shuttle bus, making it an effortless affair to hotel-hop among the three, as I simply needed to walk down the block at some point every day to check in for my upcoming night’s stay.
The hotels’ location is also very convenient for exploring Richmond, as it’s a mere 5-minute walk from the Richmond Centre mall, and is also well-positioned for accessing Downtown Vancouver via the Richmond-Brighouse SkyTrain station a 10-minute walk away.
(It’s also my understanding that the three hotels share the same ownership structure, and indeed, the same social media admins, who all took notice of my arrival thanks to my original blog post about the trip. I’m pretty sure I was given some extra-special treatment as a result, so these reviews shouldn’t be seen as 100% objective, although I do think you’ll still find it useful in comparing the relative experiences at each of these Vancouver Airport hotels.)
In This Post
1. Sheraton Vancouver Airport
First up, the Sheraton. After taking shuttle bus from YVR (which required calling the hotel upon my arrival), I arrived at the hotel entrance at about 7pm and checked in with the help of the friendly front desk associate, Tim.
The Sheraton had proactively upgraded me to their Junior Suite, but I had thought I would flex my suite-talking muscles a little bit (since they were somewhat out of practice after an extended period without travelling) and ask for the top-tier Executive Suite, too. Alas, Tim informed me that the Executive Suite was fully booked this evening, so the Junior Suite would have to suffice.
The room rate after taxes was $199, offset by the $125 American Express gift cards under Stay Richmond, so I was paying a net cost of $74 for this one-night stay.
I headed upstairs to settle into my room. The Sheraton’s interiors are decorated in the “classic Sheraton” style (which is to say, a shade of brown that isn’t the most inspiring) and were just beginning to show their age.
The Junior Suite, however, was designed with a more modern identity in mind, perhaps assisted by the snazzy patterns on the carpet, which is something you might not necessarily expect from a Sheraton.
The suite consisted of an open-concept living area on one side, along with the king bed on the opposite side of the partition.
A desk-and-dining-table in the corner provided a comfortable space to work, whilst the pantry disappointingly offered only pre-packaged Starbucks filter coffee rather than a premium coffee machine.
The bathroom was a large, bright, and comfortable space, and I was pleased with the strong water pressure on the shower.
My favourite interior feature of the Junior Suite? The heavy-set circular coffee table in the middle of the living space. That’s where I ended up treating myself to a bit of an unexpected feast that evening, thanks to the generous welcome gifts that the hotel had left for me (including a fruit and chocolate plate, a bottle of red wine, and a bottle of sparkling wine)…
…as well as the appetizer and beverage voucher I had received upon check-in as compensation for the Sheraton’s Club Lounge being closed, which I had then exchanged for an order of chicken wings and a glass of red wine from the restaurant downstairs.
Breakfast the next morning was served at Harold’s Kitchen & Bar. During normal times, I’d probably be treated to a buffet breakfast in the Sheraton Club Lounge, but since the lounge was currently closed, I’d be able to order anything I wanted from the breakfast menu instead.
I went with an omelette, which got my day off to a nice start.
In terms of the hotel’s other features, there’s a pleasant central courtyard with some outdoor seating for Harold’s Kitchen & Bar, where I saw plenty of people enjoying the sunshine in the afternoons.
The courtyard also plays host to the hotel’s swimmi pong pool. During COVID-19, the pool was limited to four occupants at a time, so guests are asked to sign in at the front desk before going for a dip.
Similarly, the fitness centre is limited to three occupants at a time, and guests must register so that the hotel can sanitize the space in-between visits. I went for a quick workout in the afternoon, and found the gym to be more than sufficient in terms of its size, although the exercise equipment was pretty standard hotel gym stuff.
The hotel staff at the Sheraton YVR were, on the whole, very mindful of social distancing and hygiene practices. Besides one occasion when a front desk associate had her mask down “earring-style” and didn’t put it on properly when speaking to me, everyone else had kept their masks on the whole time.
Having requested a 4pm late checkout, I gathered my belongings at about 3:50pm and made my way across the street to…
2. Marriott Vancouver Airport
Trina, the front desk associate at the Marriott YVR, is just lovely. From the minute I arrived, she made me feel right at home with her friendly conversations and a chipper attitude (the kind where I could tell she was smiling all the time even with her mask on).
The Marriott YVR had undergone a major renovation recently and only reopened in early 2020, and the refreshed modern decor is immediately apparent when you walk into the lobby.
Even better, the Marriott had already proactively upgraded me to their largest Executive Suite, so I was very excited as I collected by $125 in Amex gift cards and headed upstairs.
The Executive Suite is highly impressive, featuring a swanky marble desk and an expansive sitting area. Unlike the Sheraton, I was delighted to see that the Marriott offered a Nespresso machine – another one of the simple pleasures of staying at an upscale hotel.
The bedroom was cozy and comfortable, and I appreciated having a full-sized door that could close off the room from the rest of the suite.
The bathroom, despite its aesthetically pleasing modern finishes, was perhaps on the smaller side considering that this is the hotel’s largest suite overall.
Finally, the Executive Suite also had a balcony that provided sweeping views of the area surrounding Vancouver Airport, including the Hilton across the block where I’d be moving to the following day. The timing of my stay was fortunate, as I got a glimpse of the mountains in the distance just before the smoke from the California wildfires enshrouded Vancouver that weekend.
For my welcome amenity here at the Marriott, I received a delightful cheese plate along with a glass of white wine, which I snacked on before heading out to get some dinner with friends that night. Certainly, the daily food platter and liquor allowance would turn out to be an unexpected benefit of hotel-hopping – amplified though they may be by the fact that the hotels knew I was coming.
I sat down for breakfast at 75 West Coast Grill the next morning and asked the server what the voucher was good for. He replied, “Everything.”
So naturally, I ordered the steak & eggs, which was perfectly executed and one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve had recently (not that there’s been too many of them).
I scoped out a few of the hotel’s other facilities. The Marriott brand’s hotel lounges are frequently known as M Clubs, and this one would be accessible via the ground floor during normal times. However, since the lounge was closed, there was also a grab-and-go drinks cooler where Marriott’s elite members could enjoy carte-blanche access.
Alas, I didn’t get a chance to visit the fitness centre, but I did pop by the outdoor swimming pool – which really didn’t look like too much fun at all, as it overlooked the Marriott and Hilton’s shared parking lot. Both were subject to social distancing controls, and required signing in at the front desk before usage.
Mask-wearing among staff members at the Marriott YVR was excellent during my stay, and I was also impressed by a few additional touches that had good social distancing in mind, such as the individual surfaces in front of each guest room for the housekeeping or in-room dining teams to leave your items before stepping away.
Another day, another 4pm late checkout, as I gathered my belongings once again and strolled over to…
3. Hilton Vancouver Airport
After two enjoyable stays at the Marriott-branded properties, I was curious how the Hilton would compare.
The first impression wasn’t the greatest, as the front desk associate checking me in did not wear a face mask at all. Yes, there’s a plexiglass barrier at the front desk, but we were exchanging items frequently between the barrier ($125 Amex gift cards, my Hilton Aspire credit card for the stay, my room keys, etc.), so a face mask would’ve absolutely been necessary to protect guests.
Moreover, hotels must recognize that guests are paying close attention to these things, and a staff member not following the indoor mask policy can easily call into question the hotel’s approach to hygiene as a whole.
On the plus side, the hotel was at least able to arrange a 6pm late checkout for me (even though Hilton Honors elite members aren’t actually entitled to guaranteed late checkout), since my flight would be departing at 8:30pm and they didn’t plan to clean the room for the following night anyway.
I was slightly perplexed by the suite upgrade situation here at the Hilton YVR. The previous day, when I was looking up my reservation on the Hilton app, I was pleased to see that I had been proactively upgraded to a one-bedroom suite at the corner of the building.
I even took note of the fact that the Hilton app lets you choose among all the available rooms of a given type, which I hadn’t realized before.
However, upon arriving at my room, I realized that it was actually a Junior Suite instead – as you can see, not quite the one-bedroom suite at the corner.
Nevertheless, I had already “broken the seal” on the room, which is one of the new safety assurances that Hilton is offering (which I didn’t see over at the Marriott properties). Hotels are having enough challenges these days, so I didn’t want to burden them by complaining about the upgrade situation, especially since I didn’t truly need so much space for myself anyway.
Anyway, the Junior Suite consisted of a decently sized sitting area, along with a desk that was unfortunately perched far too high to be a comfortable workspace. Nearby, the Keurig coffee machine in the pantry was a welcome presence, as was the generous complimentary bottles of SmartWater.
The bathroom is accessible via a short hallway, and was another small but well-appointed space.
Over in the bedroom, the king bed was noticeably more comfortable than the beds I had over at the Sheraton and Marriott, and I got an excellent night of sleep (or perhaps it was a food coma after a massive hotpot feast over at Haidilao Hotpot a few blocks away).
Breakfast was served in the Hilton’s Cavu Restaurant & Bar. Even though my Diamond status entitled me to order anything off the menu, I was still very full from the hotpot feast the night before, so I simply ordered the healthy (but no less delicious) option of steel-cut oatmeal with all the trimmings.
Unlike the other two hotels, the Hilton’s fitness centre was still closed at the time of my visit, and guests were invited to pop over to the Sheraton and use their facilities instead. After all, on a single city block with three hotels at the same price point, it makes sense to share the facilities whenever possible.
Like the Marriott’s outdoor pool, the Hilton’s pool also overlooked the shared parking lot between the two hotels, and I can’t say it was a particularly inspiring view. Of the three hotels, the Sheraton’s pool in the middle of a nice courtyard was by far the most appealing.
The following day, after hitting up HK BBQ Master, one of Richmond’s best-known eateries for mouthwatering Hong Kong-style barbecue, I checked out of the Hilton at the luxuriously late hour of 6pm and took the shuttle bus back to Vancouver International Airport for my 8:30pm departure to Saskatoon.
Sharing the same ownership, price points, and location, the Sheraton, Marriott, and Hilton hotels near Vancouver International Airport can be a great choice for a quick overnight stay near the airport, a visit to Richmond for its spectacular food scene, or perhaps if you’re looking for an affordable hotel in Metro Vancouver with easy access to the SkyTrain for heading into downtown.
Among the trio, I’d most highly recommend the Marriott, which is newly refurbished and a cut above the rest in terms of its quality. The Sheraton would be my second-choice thanks to its excellent elite treatment and attractive outdoor pool, whereas the Hilton left me the least impressed, as the property was aging, the staff did not wear masks consistently, and the hotel’s price point was also unjustifiably the highest of the three.
The annual Stay Richmond promotion truly has the potential to be very lucrative if you’re open to doing some hotel-hopping, whether you’re visiting Vancouver or you simply live close by and would like to pick up some cheap elite qualifying nights to boost your hotel status. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for this promotion and perhaps looking to take advantage of it again when it returns next fall.