The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Table tennis, rotary phones, funky furniture at Victoria's Hotel Zed

  • Print

VICTORIA - When was the last time you played table tennis at a hotel? Probably never.

Or spent time in a hotel lobby listening to vinyl records on a state-of-the-art turntable while lounging in a purple chair that could easily accommodate a small family? Likely never.

Called room service with an old-school rotary-dial phone, or taken a ride in a hotel shuttle bus that happens to be a 1967 orange and blue VW van? Not since 1967 — maybe.

Hotel Zed (pronounced the Canadian way) is the retro-kitsch dream of Victoria hotelier Mandy Farmer, whose idea of a hotel experience involves fun things to do while staying in funky rooms decked out in purple, blue and black geometrically challenged carpets, even brighter-coloured Jetsons-era furnishings and framed street-cred Victoria graffiti tags on the walls.

Farmer, president and CEO of British Columbia's Accent Inns hotel chain, says Hotel Zed, which opened recently, is the happy ending to her decade-long vision of offering an edgy, eclectic, modern and retro accommodation experience in Victoria that rebels against the ordinary.

"I wanted to create a place that was fun," says Farmer, 40, whose business card identifies her as a rebel and bike lover. "It's ridiculously fun. This is really out there, the mix of new and old, but not just old."

She says she pitched her cutting-edge Zed zeitgeist hotel dream to the bottom-line-conscious Accent Inns directors at annual planning meetings for at least a decade and always received the same firm answer: no.

"'Mandy, give up, move on, you've got to do something else. Why would anyone want to sit in an old car?'" was the answer. "But I couldn't stop dreaming about it."

The conservative mood in the boardroom started to shift as the global economy struggled, and Farmer's pitch for a new Victoria-vibe hotel concept was greeted with fresh ears at the executive level, she says.

Two years later, and with at least $1 million invested, the 62-room Hotel Zed has risen from what was a traditional mid-town, street-front, box-like hotel that formerly served as an independent hotel owned by the company.

Farmer stands outside the hotel lobby and points to the jagged, diamond-shaped facade.

"We had these hideous awnings covering this," she says. "As soon as we took them off and I saw this, I knew we could do something with this property."

The formerly bland white hotel wall that faces Douglas Street, Victoria's main artery downtown, has been painted over with what looks like a Rubik's Cube of pink, purple, orange and lime squares.

Farmer says the wall has become an unofficial photo studio as groups of people, including parade marching bands and wedding parties, stop to pose in front of the almost psychedelic backdrop. Truckers have posted messages saying the wall's burst of colours adds vibrancy to the city.

Farmer says the rooms are equally colourful.

"If orange isn't your colour, we've got the blue," she says about the doors and walls. The carpets are multi-coloured and the drapes appear tie-dyed.

The dressers are repainted — lime — 1960s government-standard grey metal desks. "If you get it, you get it."

Comics are in the bathrooms.

Despite the homage to 1960s home decor, the rooms come with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipment that transmits what's on your phone, tablet or laptop to the room's 40-inch TVs. There's also step-by-step instructions on the proper use of the room's rotary phones.

But there's no coffee in the rooms, says Farmer, who wants guests to come to the equally colourful and interesting lobby for a cup of coffee and a chance to listen to some music — on headphones — play board games or type out a postcard on a manual typewriter.

Hotel Zed will mail the typed postcards home for free, she says.

Farmer says she has visions of the lobby, which comes across as a comfortable living room from decades ago, and the table tennis lounge, complete with Wii games, serving as glorified rec rooms for guests.

Outside, VW van driver Stan Yaxley, a retired transit driver with more than 30 years experience, honks his horn to summon another group of guests to pile into the van for a trip downtown.

Farmer says the room rates top out at $150 a night, with the average price being in the $100 range.

———

Online:

Check out Hotel Zed at www.hotelzed.com.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google