Hotel Zed Tofino: What's the draw
Hotel Zed Tofino is the latest installment in this B.C. family-owned franchise (Hotel Zed Victoria and Kelowna precede it), but her appeal is utterly unique. CEO Mandy Farmer has gone all out for her third act, with a touch of whimsy and fun at every turn. Amidst the beachy lodgings and the upscale accommodations in Tofino, Hotel Zed is impossible to miss with its brightly coloured, stripy facade and signage (which, apparently, was not too popular with the local community when the hotel opened), and the VW camper van which is often parked out front.
Step inside the hotel, and you're instantly greeted by Hotel Zed's warm and charming staff, who will give you a tour of the property's unreal amenities. Hotel Zed Tofino's design aesthetic is all 70s boho chic, with greens, browns and wood panelling; plenty of texture; and quirky pops of colour. I was pretty thrilled to arrive before my room was ready, giving me the chance to hang out in the seriously groovy Sunken Living Room. Kick off your shoes (well, it is the West Coast), sink them into the shagpile carpet and cozy up with a cocktail around the teardrop fireplace.
This is the heart of the hotel, with numerous amenities located just off the main lounge. You'll find a crystal ball behind the Psychic's Den curtains, tarot cards, a starry ceiling and — depending on when you stay — maybe even an on-site mystic to tell you what the future holds. The Mini Disco is home to the tiniest dancefloor we've ever encountered. Head in for an unscheduled dance party amidst the sequined walls, mirrored disco balls and light-up dance floor anytime during your stay.
Head out of the lobby, and you'll stumble upon a photo-opp-heavy kitschy office space that would make Don Draper jealous. But there's magic beyond the typewriter and penholders: Push a hidden door and head into an 80s-style arcade with Pac-Man and other retro games. Best of all, you don't need to ask mom for some quarters: The arcade is free for hotel guests.
Hotel Zed Tofino: The rooms
I'm having so much fun I almost forget that I still haven't checked into my room. My King Kitchenette suite, with rainforest views, is every bit as chic as the rest of the hotel and equipped with everything I might need on my Tofino stay. My bed is soft, and there's a tub and a shower for soaking after all my outdoorsy pursuits. There's also a smart TV that I don't use once during my stay, entertained as I am with all of the amenities.
My favourite touch is the kitchenette, kitted out with a gooseneck kettle, toaster oven, kitchen sink and fridge to store the spoils picked up from all the fab local Tofino stores. As part of Hotel Zed's ongoing commitment to the planet, they offer a locally sourced, waste-free coffee program. Just let them know when you need more coffee by calling down to reception, to avoid excess waste.
Hotel Zed Tofino: What's on the menu
The hotel's 360 restaurant service means there's a snack and a beverage for you at most times of the day. Head to Roar Coffee & Shop for locally sourced lattes from Rhino Coffee, croissants from their pâtissier, and sandwiches made to order. You can also pick up some Tofino souvenirs, like local chocolates and handmade Hotel Zed coffee mugs.
Our next port of call is Roar, a coastal-inspired spot open for breakfast, brunch, dinner and drinks. Seashells and fishing nets, plus the hotel's usual assortment of perfectly curated trinkets and doodads, decorate the walls, adding to the fisherman chic vibes. Nestle into a booth or a stool behind the chef's pass, where you can watch the hearth fire cooking (from which the restaurant presumably takes its name) in action. Seafood is naturally a focus here, with plenty of local oysters, mussels and scallops up for grabs. However, carnivores will be satiated by dishes like the duck confit pasta and the eyeball-poppingly decadent ribeye-sharing board.
If you're just in the market for libations, stop by the bar for creations from Carl Hamilton. The hotel's bar manager tries to infuse (sometimes literally) a sense of place into the cocktails, so expect drinks with torched local cedar, plus duck fat washed bourbons — not to mention local beer and a deep wine list that even the snootiest foodies won't turn their noses up at.
Hotel Zed Tofino: What else
Whether you need your knots worked out after your outdoor antics or just want to be pampered, Stillwater Spa is an excellent idea. The onsite spa is located in a bird's sanctuary, just steps away from the Tofino Inlet (a natural wonder and waterfront that's also well worth checking out). Don your robe, saunter through the trees and feel your cares slip away before you've even met your masseuse.
Melt from the massage table to the rainforest hot tub and barrel sauna for even more relaxation. The roomy hot tub can fit around 15 people and the barrel sauna has a bubble glass window at the end so you can gaze out onto the rainforest while your pores are purged.
You might have noticed the markings on the lobby floor, but this one isn't a design choice. Hotel Zed is home to the world's first bike-through lobby. If you want to get around on two wheels, head to Swell Paddle + Surf, where you can rent bikes, surfboards and paddleboards. Chesterman Beach, one of Tofino's most iconic sands, is just a seven-minute walk away (and the sunsets are epic).
Hotel Zed is proudly the first hospitality chain to be Rainbow Registered across all of its locations. The accreditation from Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) ensures that standards are set in place to make every guest (and employee) feel safe and welcome. The hotel is also a Tribal Parks Allies — as such, 1 per cent of guests' bills will be contributed to funds that allow the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation to continue the restoration and guardianship of their lands.
If Tofino and its virtually horizontal residents haven't already rubbed off on you, Hotel Zed's unique brand of weird and wonderful certainly will.
Rooms from $215 per night for a King Kitchenette room.