Canada’s First Pod Hotel: A Fun Alternative in Whistler Village
It’s open! Canada’s very first pod hotel has just opened right in the heart of Whistler Village and we were so excited to check it out. If you’re new to pods and capsules, this style of accommodation was first developed in Japan. Basically, instead of staying in large and expensive hotel rooms, guests sleep in small capsule-like rooms allowing them to save money. The concept is similar at Whistler’s new Pangea Pod Hotel but the pods are more spacious, the common areas are more inviting and the location couldn’t be more central. Spoiler alert: we enjoyed our experience at Pangea more than our capsule stay in Tokyo!
When you’ve been travelling for a long time and staying in all sorts of accommodations, you can’t help but notice what would make things better for your fellow travellers. Through a well-thought out design, Pangea founders and travel lovers, Russell and Jelena made sure their unique hotel had everything guests would need for a comfortable stay. Each pod is well-lit and equipped with a fan, hangers, hooks, power sockets, USB plugs, a curtain for your privacy and a small lockable cabinet for your valuables. There are side-entry or front-entry pods and each has comfy bedding over a double mattress. Even though there’s room for two, Wes and I opted for our own front-entry pods. I’m almost always cold but had a comfortable sleep while Wes slept in the pod below mine with his fan on to keep cool.
In addition to cozy pods, there are so many practical features throughout the suites that seem minor at first but make a big difference from a guest’s perspective. Like the fact that there are two light switches in your pod (one at the entrance and one by the power outlets) saving you from having to crawl out to the front of your pod when it’s time to get to bed. Motion sensors will gently light up the hallway if you’re getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathrooms, which are also cleverly designed. Instead of having a complete bathroom (with a shower, toilet and sink) they’re split up into separate components. If you’re taking a shower, you go to the shower room. If you just need to wash up, you can use one of the vanities — complete with LED lighting to get your makeup just right. If you simply need to change out of your pjs, there’s a change room for that. By splitting up the bathroom, you’re not left waiting for someone to finish their shower so that you can brush your teeth. Seriously, every little detail has been taken into account. You even have a mini trash bin right in your pod!
I was surprised to see how stylish and modern the main common area or “Living Room” is. I mean, when you say you’re staying at the cheapest place in Whistler Village, you wouldn’t expect to be lounging in a fancy chair sipping on espresso. But you can at Pangea where their chic cafe and bar is open all day. If you’re checking in with a bike, snowboard or skis, there’s a custom-built storage room for all of your gear in the “Toy Box” right by the front desk. And to (literally) top it off, you’ll find the only rooftop patio in Whistler on the third floor overlooking the pedestrian walkways of the Village.
Despite a fancy look, the main common area is actually quite homey. There’s a wide selection of board games and we enjoyed a few rounds of Jenga while waiting for our pizza. Their dough is made in-house so I’d recommend giving it a try if you’re a pizza fan like we are. There are daily breakfast and drink specials served by friendly staff and long communal tables that help retain that hostel-like feel. The artwork throughout the hotel caught my eye and we learned about the talented local artist responsible for Pangea’s globally inspired murals.
One feature that stood out among the others was the automated check-in kiosk. Upon arrival, we used the touch screen to find our reservation, a pre-auth of $50 per guest was charged to our credit card and we were each given Pangea wristbands. These bands are equipped with a chip that not only acts as your room key but can also be tapped at the bar to charge your bill straight to your room. No need to shuffle around searching for your room key or carry your wallet around the hotel, just tap and go!
There’s free wifi throughout the building, two (one small, one large) towels included in your booking, balconies overlooking the village in most of the suites, outdoor cleaning stations for your bikes and gear and parking available for an additional charge. What’s not included? The building unfortunately doesn’t have an elevator or a communal kitchen.
As we were packing up the morning after, I realized that what makes Pangea unique is how versatile the property is. Whether you’re travelling with a group of friends for your annual bike trip or headed to Whistler for a weekend getaway with your significant other, your needs will be met, if not exceeded. You’re sharing common areas with others but in a setting that feels more like a boutique hotel than a hostel. You’re staying in a brand new space as opposed to some of the dated (and pricier) hotels nearby. You’ve got staff on hand who know the area well and your location couldn’t be any more central.
When you’re searching for hotels in Whistler Village, Pangea Pod Hotel will likely come up as your most affordable option every single time. Prices vary depending on the season but can start as low as $50 per person which is a great find considering the location. For a complete list of budget accommodations in Whistler, this comprehensive post compares 5 nearby hostels but none are located directly in the village.
Whistler is one of the most popular ski-resort destinations in North America and is located about 1.5 hours north of Vancouver. Most visitors come for skiing in the winter or mountain biking in the summer but there are so many things to do in Whistler that don’t involve sports. At the base of the nearby mountains is the picturesque and pedestrian-friendly Whistler Village. Lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions, this central hub sees millions of visitors each year. It’s touristy but beautiful and worthy of at least a day trip for first-time visitors to Vancouver.
We might not be skiiers, snowboarders or mountain bikers but we still have a good time whenever we’re in Whistler. Our video (linked below) reveals our favourite eats in the area and, with a big nightlife scene in Whistler, you’re never too far from a good time. El Furniture Warehouse (El Furny for locals) is our go-to for pub food and worth the wait if you’re on a budget since every item on the food menu is only $5.95. Cows Creamery is often rated the best ice-cream in Canada and there aren’t many locations in the country so I recommend a scoop of Wowie Cowie if you stop by. Wes is also a huge fan of Mongolie Grill and their world famous stir-fry.
Of course, there is more to Whistler than food. Even though it’s a touristy destination, there are plenty of free things to do in the village, 3 beautiful nearby lakes to explore and dozens of scenic trails to choose from. The Sea to Sky Highway is one of our favourite drives in the area and we’re always discovering new stops along the way back to Vancouver.
A million thank yous to Pangea Pod Hotel for hosting us! Photos and opinions are our own.
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