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Kelowna is the gateway to the stunning Okanagan Valley, an area famed for its natural landscapes, hiking and biking trails, ski resorts (Big White is the big one here), and wineries. It’s the largest city in the region and is on the edge of Okanagan Lake. Being just a 4-hour drive from downtown Vancouver means this area is very popular with vacationing Canadians, particularly during the summer months.
As mentioned, there’s skiing in winter in Kelowna at Big White Ski Resort, and in summer, excellent biking and hiking trails as well as some award-winning wineries and breweries right in the heart of downtown Kelowna.
Kelowna is a small city with a big personality, and in my opinion, there’s always something to do in Kelowna! So, why not stay awhile and enjoy?
If you’re vacationing in Kelowna, British Columbia then you need to know the best places to stay! This blog post includes everything you need to know before deciding on where to stay in Kelowna. In addition, it includes a description of all of the best areas and towns as well as the best hostels and hotels to suit every budget!
Did you know – Kelowna is the first nation’s word for grizzly bear! But don’t worry, the grizzlies in Kelowna stay in the wilderness!
Where are the BEST Areas to Stay in Kelowna, BC?
In this blog post, I’ve listed the three best areas to stay in Kelowna including what to expect from each neighborhood and my personal hostel and hotel recommendations. With this detailed information, you should easily determine where to stay in Kelowna, BC!
Each area in Kelowna has its positives and negatives. Which area you choose depends on what you want to achieve from your stay in Kelowna.
If you want to save some money, then Central Kelowna is the best option for you. Downtown Kelowna has the best nightlife options and many accommodation options with lake views. And finally, West Kelowna is home to excellent hiking trails and some of the best wineries in Kelowna.
Getting Around Kelowna
Before you can decide where to stay in Kelowna, you need to understand how easy it is to get around.
Kelowna is serviced by BC Transit buses which offer many routes very regularly. The most common routes include from downtown to Orchard Park Mall, Lakeshore, and East Kelowna. If there isn’t a direct bus to your destination, you can typically transfer downtown to get you there. It’s $2.50 CAD per journey with BC Transit, $6.50 for a day pass, or you can purchase a pack of 10 tickets for $22.50, which may be helpful as drivers do not carry change.
However, as mentioned earlier, traffic can be awful here during the busy summer months, especially downtown and crossing the bridge to West Kelowna. If you can, walking between destinations might actually prove to be quicker (and a heck of a lot less frustrating.) In the downtown area, everything is within walking distance!
Taxis are readily available – Current Taxi is the largest taxi firm here. Unfortunately, there is currently no Uber available in Kelowna.
One of the first best areas to stay in Kelowna, with plenty of hotels to choose from, is Central Kelowna. For the simplicity sake of this blog, Central Kelowna is mapped as the area that runs from Harvey Avenue to Highway 33.
The central city of Kelowna has several smaller districts within its boundaries. You can walk between each district quickly, but a sound BC Transit bus system is also here. Surprisingly for a small city, the traffic here can be a nightmare (particularly at rush hour and during the summer), so I recommend walking most places if you can.
The north end of Central Kelowna (not far from downtown) was once an industrial area and is now a bustling area filled with restaurants and some of the best breweries in Kelowna. In fact, there are six breweries within a couple of blocks here – an excellent place for a brewery tour, don’t you think! Also located in this district is the famous Sandhill Winery as well as the BC Tree Fruits Cider Company.
If you want to do some shopping there are two large shopping malls here – Capri Centre Mall and the Orchard Park Shopping Centre (a great way to spend a rainy day!).
Some of the best restaurants in Central Kelowna include Fiesta Del Sol on Dolphin Ave and The Keg Steakhouse on Underhill Street. To get your coffee fix, one of the most popular cafes here is Bean Scene Coffee Works.
Advantages of staying in Central Kelowna:
- Centrally located area – easy to get to most attractions is and around Kelowna
- The accommodation options are cheaper here than downtown and are typically larger
- There are lots of shops and affordable food options such as Red Robin Gourmet Burgers in Orchard Park Shopping Centre
- It is generally less touristy with many locals visiting shops and restaurants around Central Kelowna.
- Easy to find parking
Disadvantages of staying in Central Kelowna:
- It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as downtown due to its industrial past
- There aren’t any walking trails here
- Not many quirky or boutique stores here, unlike downtown, which has plenty
- Traffic can be a problem during peak season
Where to Stay in Central Kelowna
$$$ – Coast Capri Hotel
The Coast Capri Hotel is where I stayed when I visited Kelowna last. I personally love this centrally-located hotel for a great place to stay in Kelowna.
This large hotel offers an on-site restaurant, an outdoor pool (with food and drink service), a spa, a state-of-the-art gym, as well as many other facilities. The rooms here are spacious and warmly decorated with a modern touch.
Parking is free and getting around from here is super easy! A quick 5-minute drive to downtown, 5 minutes to the North End Breweries, and only about 10 minutes to East Kelowna wineries – what more could you ask for?!
Rooms here start from around $190 CAD. To me, this is great value considering everything you get for that price. I would stay at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna again.
Featuring an indoor pool and a hot tub, this budget-friendly option in Central Kelowna is a great option.
At Econo Lodge Inn and Suites you’ll also find free parking, an on-site Asian food restaurant, and a fitness center. The rooms here are spacious, and some come with a kitchenette (with microwave and fridge). This centrally-located hotel in Kelowna is ideal for families with its smart mix of amenities and reasonable prices.
Rooms here start from about $119 CAD, including an American breakfast.
Just a 5-minute walk from the lakefront and the lovely beach at Strathcona Park you’ll find Kelowna International Hostel. For travelers on a tight budget, you can’t really find a better place to stay in Kelowna than this.
There’s a shared kitchen (perfect for cooking your own meals) and a social common lounge area. In fact, past travelers have noted this as a great place to meet people. There’s also a games room.
The rooms here are basic but comfortable, and you can choose from a private room with a shared bathroom or a bed in a dorm room. Free limited parking is available.
The location is in South Central, near the Kelowna Hospital. You can easily walk to downtown Kelowna from here in about 20-minutes.
Rooms here are approximately $30 CAD for a bed in a shared dorm.
As with any large city, the downtown area is the beating heart with the most restaurants, bars, and stores. Kelowna is no different – the downtown area here has all of the above plus great museums and theaters.
Bernard Avenue is the main street downtown, and it’s packed with restaurants, cafes, and quirky red brick storefronts. This street ends at Kelowna City Park and Hot Water Beach, pretty cool! Kelowna City Park is a large waterfront park and is an excellent place for a picnic and a stroll.
The best restaurants in downtown Kelowna include West Coast Grill & Oyster Bar and Thai Terrace Restaurant. For more casual fare, you can’t go wrong with Little Hobo Soup & Sandwich Shop on Leon Ave.
To walk off all the fantastic food you’ll be eating, walk the 2.2 km waterfront boardwalk.
Advantages of staying in downtown Kelowna:
- If you’re after nightlife, this is the area for you – some of the best bars here include Docs and Fernandos Pub
- There’s lots to do here (you don’t need to leave this area at all) – the museums, restaurants, cafes, and best stores are all located here
- The waterfront boardwalk is a big plus
- You can easily fet around downtown on foot
Disadvantages of staying in downtown Kelowna:
- It’s the busiest area in Kelowna and, as a result, can be loud
- The accommodation here is more expensive than in other areas
- Parking can be a problem with most options being paid and hotels offering very limited (or expensive parking)
Where to Stay in Downtown Kelowna
Situated right on Okanagan Lake with stunning views, this property is seriously impressive. Did I mention it’s enormous – it has three swimming pools, an on-site restaurant, a fitness center?
Ask for a lake view room to enjoy beautiful views each morning as you wake up.
The beds here are super comfy too, according to past guests. Plus, it’s a short (less than 5-minute walk) to the center of downtown.
Important to note is that WiFi is available but costs $9.95 CAd per day.
Rooms here start at $245 CAD per night. To me, this is actually pretty reasonable considering the location and all of the amenities on offer.
$$ – Royal Anne Hotel
This smaller hotel has everything you need right in the center of downtown, including a small fitness center, sauna, and a wine shop. There’s even an Irish bar on-site – O’Flannigans Irish Bar is the perfect option for food and drinks.
The rooms here come with a lake view, city view, or mountain view. Another huge perk is that free parking is available.
Rooms here start from $160 CAD per night. It’s a good modest option for anyone looking for a comfortable, yet affordable, stay right in downtown Kelowna.
Centrally located and offering both dorm rooms and private rooms, Kelowna Okanagan Lake Hostel is one of the best budget-friendly places to stay in Kelowna. This is an excellent option for travelers who want to stay as central as possible while keeping within a tight budget.
Worth noting is its shared bathroom facilities here – no private bathrooms are available. There’s also a shared kitchen, a games room with billiards and table football, and BBQ facilities on the furnished patio. In addition, the city park and the beach are just a 10-minute walk away!
A twin room here is approximately $135 CAD per night with cheaper dorm beds available too.
West Kelowna is perhaps the most naturally beautiful area in Kelowna – most of the city’s vineyards and wineries are located here, so think rolling green vineyards. The area is nicknamed ‘Westside’ by locals, and it’s located on the West side of Okanagan Lake directly opposite Kelowna City.
There are forested parks, excellent hiking trails, and vineyards here. One of the best hikes in West Kelowna is within the Rose Valley Regional Park here. The city on the Edge of Forever trail (unusual name, right?) is a 7.9 km relatively challenging trail. Still, the views of Kelowna CBD and Lake Okanagan from the top are well worth the slog. Another more leisurely hike within Rose Valley Park is the 4.5 km Rooster Tree Lake Loop.
Those looking for a place to stay in Kelowna that is peaceful and tranquil will find West Kelowna ideal.
The ‘westside’ is also home to the Westside Wine Trail and many breweries and cider houses. Make sure to visit Mt Boucherie, Frind Estate, and Quail Gate, all top-rated and beautiful wineries in Kelowna.
For food in West Kelowna, I recommend Pizzamoreh on Main St and West Sakura Teriyaki.
Advantages of staying in West Kelowna:
- Perfect area for accessing the region’s wineries – if you’re a wine fan, this is the area for you!
- The best boutique stays are located in West Kelowna
- The views of the rolling vineyards and orchards are stunning
- Quieter location, perfect for a reaceful escape
Disadvantages of staying in West Kelowna:
- Not centrally located – further away from the hustle and bustle of downtown
- There’s no real nightlife here. It’s a tranquil area and ideal for couples
- The bridge too get to Kelowna city can be busy during peak months, expect traffic
Where to Stay in West Kelowna
$$$ – Stunning Lakeview Villa
The Stunning Lakeview Villa is the most luxurious accommodation option on this list, and it’s an ideal fit for a large group or a seriously romantic couples getaway.
This 3-bedroom villa, just 7 km from downtown Kelowna, has a private pool and spectacular lake views. There’s a large garden as well as a terrace to enjoy the views (perhaps with a glass of wine from one of the wineries nearby).
I usually wouldn’t include somewhere so splurge-worthy, but this one is different. It’s enough to make your friends back home green-with-envy. Plus, if you split the cost between 6 people, it’s pretty affordable for what you’re getting.
To rent the entire villa, which sleeps up to 6 adults, ranges around $1000 CAD per night. Tis is more of an “experience” rather than just a place to stay in Kelowna.
This resort is a top choice, offering stunning lake and mountain views and a large outdoor swimming pool (think of an overseas resort vibe). Plus, this hotel has its own marina, a full spa, and an on-site restaurant.
Each room is a complete suite featuring a kitchen, dining area, laundry facilities, and a private balcony!
For the price and all it offers, this is perhaps my favorite place to stay in West Kelowna. It is 7 km from the center of West Kelowna and a 20-minute drive to downtown Kelowna. This is a great option for couples or families looking for a quiet escape.
A double room here is approximately $190 CAD per night.
$ – Rodee Homestay
Rodee Homestay is a unique purse-friendly homestay just 8 km from downtown but still enjoys the peace and quiet of West Kelowna.
The rooms are really cozy and stylishly furnished, and the views from the grounds surrounding the property are seriously gorgeous.
I would recommend having a rental car if staying here as there is no public transport nearby. This is a great place to stay for families traveling together who don;t want to sacrifice price for comfort.
A double room here starts from $120 CAD per night.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada and using crown land and campsites you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Thanks for reading!
I hope this guide has helped you understand the different areas in Kelowna, BC, and helped you choose where to stay in Kelowna! With so many choices, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect hotel for you!