When going off-the-beaten-path in rural Canada, nothing could be more comforting than having a warm and welcoming place to return to after a day of adventures out in the wild. And the colourful and rainbow-registered Hotel Zed Tofino, with its quirky details and youthful spirit, makes for the perfect base to explore Vancouver Island.
There’s a fuchsia-coloured VW minibus permanently parked in front of Hotel Zed and another full-scale model out back sculpted from driftwood, complete with an accurate engine, out back. Aside from having a check-in desk by the front door (the world’s only bike-through hotel lobby), it doesn’t get any more ordinary inside, either. The pride flag on every door declares this a safe space for all rebels, and you’ll actually find them all within. And that’s the point about Hotel Zed, where the staff are called ‘rebels’ and the ethos is ‘rebels against the ordinary’.
If all of this seems dangerously close to kitschy, rest assured we felt the same when we pulled up to the many-coloured exterior. But, despite its outrageous qualities and professed mission to envelop everyone in an inclusive embrace, there’s nothing cheap or shallow about this place. Because it delivers.
A 1970s aesthetic runs deep throughout the property and, although the building is new, it’s filled with authentic pieces lovingly collected and meticulously placed by the brand’s ambitious owner. The lobby is a sunken living room complete with green-shag carpet and teardrop fireplaces. It’s serviced by craft cocktails and local pours from the bar at Roar, the property’s fire-focused restaurant just beyond.
Rooms carry the design further and are accented with touches such as heated washroom floors and zero-waste coffee service, delivering freshly ground beans and cream in reusable glass jars. Those at the far rear look out into the surrounding Canadian forest, interrupted only by a spacious hot tub, oversized barrel sauna with forest-view window, and serene spa tent.
At the end of the property, a planked path leads to a small dock resting on the inlet, where two chairs offer a space for quiet reflection. When we arrived, there was a rebel practising yoga just inches from the water, while a book rested beside her mat. The only sound came from birds calling somewhere in the forest behind. We didn’t quite want to find our way back.
Right on time
YYJ / YVR
While you’re Out There
Although the vast Chesterman Beach is around the corner from the hotel, if you’re looking for a more intimate and quieter stretch of sand, we can’t recommend a trip to Tonquin Beach enough. If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself having the entire place to yourself.