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The Globe and Mail

Rock-star reno makes this Vancouver hotel perfect for guests (and their pets)

At OPUS Vancouver, the hotel that TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 called Canada's trendiest, you neither have to put on the dog, nor put anything on your dog. It wouldn't hurt to doll yourselves up, though – loping into Yaletown's recently renovated bastion of modern luxe with an unadorned retriever just feels odd. This is bejewelled lapdog country. Nevertheless, OPUS staff warmly greets even the frumpiest guests, and the hotel charges no pet fee. When you check in to one of the two Signature Suites, you'll find ceramic dog dishes, treats and, in front of the fireplace, a plush dog bed bearing a copy of Modern Dog for smarter breeds than mine to read while you're out.


OPUS snuggles into Yaletown like a Hollywood chihuahua into a Birkin bag. Its key amenity is a neighbourhood jammed with stylists of every sort, yoga emporia, clothing and decor shops, restaurants, clubs and bars. Two blocks from the hotel is a gated off-leash park.

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The 11-year-old hotel just got refurbished. Local interior designer Robert Bailey has lavished its "Dede" suites with rock-star flourishes such as bold flocked wallpaper, contemporary art, a leopard-print armchair and sectional sofa and ottomans in the room's lounge, which is separated from the bedroom's king-size chrome four-poster bed by a see-through fireplace. This is a room in which Prince or Madonna would feel comfortable post-performance, sipping bubbly and watching gleefully through the flames as somebody stripped in the bedroom.

Sentimentalists will appreciate the homey offer from the hotel's Cupid Concierge to leave a framed photo of your beloved in the room as a greeting. I was surprised to discover a framed photo of my dog; she got a picture of me. Tech design includes free WiFi throughout the hotel and Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphones in select rooms, while all rooms come with iPads loaded with concierge suggestions.


Keep your eyes peeled for celebs. The staff is tragically discreet but many movie and pop stars reportedly call OPUS their home away from home. Meanwhile, style-minded young professionals, older sophisticates and the odd hipster dominate the lobby lounge and chic OPUS bar.


Don't miss the in-house Le Pentola della Quercia, whose exquisite Northern Italian food is light, elegant and beautifully presented. Starting with unexpected antipasti like sautéed kale with burrata, lentils and white anchovy, or classic, silken vitello tonnato, you might progress to whole roasted branzino with turnip and hazelnuts or seared hanger steak with arugula, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan in a lively room that's white-tiled, wooden-tabled, without decor frippery. This one's a beaut.

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The main bathroom, with its deep, jetted tub facing a wall-mounted TV and its shower with floor-to-ceiling windows.


The ventilation system in the suite's two bathrooms is a tad loud. Happily, the stunning Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 9000 six disc CD player can be cranked up to compensate.


There would have been a rubber ball on her bed instead of Modern Dog.

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OPUS Vancouver, 322 Davie St., Vancouver; 1-866-642-6787;; 96 rooms from $189.

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