A revamped motel embraces the retro vibes whole-heartedly.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and when life gives you a motel that hasn’t been remodelled in decades, lean into the retro factor full-force and create Victoria’s quirkiest lodging…that’s how the expression goes, right?Well, that’s how Hotel Zed seems to have interpreted it at least—but we’re not complaining. The kitschy-cool aesthetic is totally charming and transforms what would otherwise be an underwhelming building on an unremarkable stretch of road on the outskirts of downtown Victoria into a destination accommodation. From the outside, the rainbow-coloured doors echo the looks of the Saguaro Palm Springs, though here, instead of a turquoise pool, a waterslide awaits. The rainbow of doors brings a Palm Springs palette to the West Coast. The countertop is built with what looks like white breeze blocks—it’s actually just clever panelling.Inside it’s a mashup of mid-century furniture, pop-art colours (green, purple and orange is not a palette for the faint of heart) and garage-sale treasures, including a pair of working typewriters and a record player listening station in the lobby. The check-in counter is lined with what looks like breeze blocks, and once you actually get to your room, candy-coloured table lamps and rotary phones are an essential part of the playful time-warp look.A reclaimed VW van or the on-loan bikes will take you into town, though you don’t need to wander too far for sustenance—the attached diner, Ruby’s, does a stellar job with its menu of elevated comfort food (smoked brisket tacos, anyone?). The hotel is outside the downtown core, but grab a bike (or longboards!) and you’ll be in the heart of it all in no time. Vintage seating in poppy hues is arranged around the vinyl station and mid-century-inspired tables.

Getting There

Listen, we don’t want to throw shade on our friends at BC Ferries, but once you fly Vancouver to Victoria, it is verrrry difficult to go back. Harbour Air‘s direct downtown-to-downtown flights spoil you for life. Thirty minutes of million-dollar West Coast views with no soul-crushing car line-up: not too shabby. Playful gold light fixtures give the hotel a homey feel; the typewriter station in the lobby is ideal for tapping out a “wish you were here” letter after a round or two of cocktails at Ruby’s next door.