Ultimately I’d say it depends on how much time you’re spending there and what you expect out of the experience as well as your budget.For an all around experience, I’d say staying in and around the “Granville” Skytrain hub will allow ease of access to a number of areas and is walking distance from restaurants, shopping and the Robson shopping strip.This can act as a hub to various walking distance attractions or you can simply hop the train to get to somewhere else.
Many people above suggested a number of iconic places — Granville Island, Seabus (to West Vancouver), Robson Street, Granville Street, etc.Depending on the weather, it can get quite warm in May, so it might not be out of the question to go to the beach, English Bay, a short walk from the downtown area or rent a car and head out to the further beaches (Jericho, Spanish Banks) or go the other way and head to North Vancouver and see the Capilano Suspension Bridge and enjoy nature.If your stay overlaps a weekend, there are a number of trendy and nice brunch places in Yaletown for a lazy afternoon coupled with some people watching and maybe shopping.
The same area has nightlife and expensive restaurants for dinner if that’s what you’re in the mood for as well.If an outdoor experience is what you’re looking for, a stroll along the seawall downtown and/or a more extensive trip through Stanley Park may be what you’re looking for.
I suggest staying in the West End, as you are close to all the main attractions and handy transit and lots of cheap restaurants.You might want to check out the Buchan Hotel, it is fairly inexpensive in a great location (even cheaper if you want to do the shared bathroom option), near the beach, Stanley Park, about a 10-12 minute walk from the main bar/party street, cheap but good eats, and some stunning views within a few minutes walk.If you are driving, they only have a few parking spots as the hotel is in a residential area and it is kind of first come, first served.
Talk to the clerk when you reserve.If you want to see some spectacular scenery, you can use public transit to take a bus to the HorseShoe Bay ferry and then do a walkon return ticket to the ferry to Gibsons up the Sunshine Coast (so named in a giant real estate scam), about 45 minutes of coastal beauty.
And the local mountains are very accessible and offer great views and hiking.Grouse Mtn is a short trip to the North Shore, then a hard hike (the Grouse Grind) or a tram ride to the top.
Try AirBnB for affordable accommodations.
Hotels in Vancouver are very expensive.