I knew the Ottawa Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel from experience, but the Victoria Fairmont Empress is even more impressing with the Victoria Inner Harbour in front.
Also the front garden adds to the majestic size of the building.
The building is a true landmark, locally known as the Queen.
Directions: At the Inner Harbour; not to miss.
I stayed at the Empress for four nights at the beginning of March with my husband and we had a positive experience there. We booked the hotel as part of a package through West Jet Vacations and got a very good price. We decided to book a Deluxe Harbour View Room, as it was only about $20 per nightmore. Growing up in Canada, somewhat near the Rocky Mountains, I’ve always known about all the old Canadian Pacific Hotels, including the Empress, the Banff Springs, and the Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton, where I live. These hotels are the picture of luxury, and I’ve often wandered through the lobbies while on trips, so I was really excited to be able to stay in one and at such a good price. There’s a certain romance to them.
We checked in at about 8pm. The young lady behind the desk was in training, and was very professional and polite. I was a little bit worried that the room would be really small, since it’s an old hotel, but I was actually very pleased with it. We got room 344. It had a queen bed, a desk and chair, a small table with two chairs, a dresser, a TV, mini fridge, safe, iron and ironing board, coffee maker and tea. The bathroom was a good size, with lots of shower space, a shower and bath, and two robes. We got a newspaper (two on the weekdays) delivered to our room every morning. The view was pretty. It was nice to be able to sit at the table and look at out the harbour while we were in the room taking a break. It happened to be daylight savings time while we there, and there were signs in the lobby reminding people and advising that they housekeeper would be changing the clocks. We had our privacy sign up, and they slid a letter under our door reminding us to change our clocks. I thought that was nice. Victoria can be quite rainy, and they have free umbrellas you can borrow from the front desk.
The hotel has two restaurants, the Bengal Lounge and the Empress Room. We didn’t go to either of them, but we did have afternoon tea in the Tea Lobby. There is a gym, a swimming pool and a hot tub. We didn’t use them, but took a look at the gym. There are a few cardio machines and some weights. There are also a few shops just past the restaurants. The hotel has two separate entrances; one that anyone can use to go take a look at the hotel, and one for guests only.
Everyone we encountered at the hotel was very professional. We didn’t encounter any problems or have any issues during our stay at all.
Hint: Before you book, sign up for the Fairmont Presidents Club. It’s free to join, and you get free wireless internet access (there would otherwise be a charge) and free local calls, as well as other things depending on which Fairmont you’re staying at.
The Empress Hotel as it is run today could have easily gone by the wayside, demolished in favor of something more modern and functional. True, by 1965 the grand old dame of the British Colombian Hotel world was showing more than wear and tear. Many cried that without The Empress the town would lose many of its faithful tourists so a $4 million campaign to refurbish it was undertaken. In the late 1980s, an additional $45 million was poured into it, adding an indoor pool, health center, and other modern guest services. In spite of all the changes, the goal was not to modernize it so much as restore to its original illustrious self.
Unique Quality: The decidedly high end hotel is part of The Fairmont Hotel & Resorts Group and caters to the well-heeled. There are 477 rooms with prices starting at C$ 200 off-season/ C$300 season. The largest suites can fetch up to C$ 2000. Rooms can be reserved with full breakfast or without.
Fairmonts are ratedto be one of the best hotels in the world, and in the one in Victoria I would not necessary call the best. It was nice and cozy but you can tell that the building is old and some of the things there were a bit run down for a four or five star hotel.
Other then that the service was great, everyone was super friendly and helpful. And it was fun walking in the hotel and window shopping.
This hotel is great to stay for the 1st visit, the location is perfect for all the sights and if something is away it's very easy to get on a tour bus or catch a taxi. But I don't think i would stay there again. Supposedly anywhere you stay in Victoria is nice, so it would be interesting to stay in a B&B.
Unique Quality: Location, Architecture, History of the Building, Great Customer service
Wow! It's certainly not every day that you stay at the Empress Hotel, and what a surprise it was! For my 25th birthday, my significant other booked 2 nights at the Empress so that we could spend the weekend in Victoria. While I had never been to Victoria many times, he had not, so it was quite a luxury calling the Empress Hotel "home" while we toured the city.
During our time at the Empress, we stayed on the 2nd floor, room 267, which is the Gold Level floor. Being on the Gold Level means that you get access to a private consierge, a free breakfast, free evening appetizers, and use of the Gold Level lounge. Oh yes, there's also a fully stocked bar in the lounge, although you pay based on the honour system. Anyone can get Gold Level service at any Fairmont hotel - they just have to pay a little extra fee, but I think it's well worth it! At the Empress, the Gold Level lounge overlooks the Victoria habour and was quite a treat to sit there every morning.
While our room was old fashioned and small, it was cozy and efficient. We had lots of nice books, and a decorative fireplace. The bed was very comfortable. We had a huge closet (with ironing board), free shoe polishing service, free Globe & Mail newspaper in the morning, and quilted cotton bathrobes. We even ordered "in room dining" one night, which was fantastic for when we didn't feel like venturing into the city late at night. All in all, we felt very pampered there!
Unique Quality: There are so many unique qualities about the Empress, so I'll highlight a few here:
Location - Located across from the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, the Empress is essentially the heart of the city from which everything revolves around. It's within a short walking distance to all the attractions.
Afternoon Tea - For $60 a person, it's really overpriced, but the Empress started this tradition in Victoria. You're not paying for the quantity of food, but for the experience of this famous tradition. Overlooking the Inner Harbour in the tea room, you get fresh berries and cream, a selection of finger sandwiches and bite-sized desserts. We drank Empress tea while we were there.
In Room Dining - I've never, ever ordered room service before, but one late Saturday evening we didn't feel like looking around the city for restaurants open after 10pm. Since it was 11pm, and since Victoria's restaurants were mostly closed, I skimmed through the pages and pages of menus, and thought, "whoa, this looks good!". The Empress has a huge variety of food, whether it's their famous curry from the Bengal Lounge, to something simple like fish and chips. I decided to order a simple Caesar salad with grilled prawns. Josh ordered a piece of cheesecake, while I ordered the "merengue and sour cherry mound", which sounded weird, but good. It was delivered promptly by a young server who looked surprised to see such a young couple ordering room service from the Empress on a Saturday night!
Directions: Located on the eastern side of Government Street overlooking Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Very beautiful, historic hotel. I was impressed by the modern accomadations in such a historic old building.
Unique Quality: We were there in the Fall of 2003, and they had an antique boat show in the harbor, that is directly in front of the hotel. It was amazing to see some of the fine craftsmanship in some of the old boats.
Directions: Victoria Harbor
Even if you don’t stay at this hotel you must stop for afternoon tea which is enjoyed by over 100,000 people every year. The Victoria Fairmount Empress Hotel serves its own special blend of tea in fine Royal Doultan china. Tea is had in the magnificent Victoria Fairmount Empress Tea Lobby surrounded by handcrafted tapestries, lovely mouldings and polished hard wood floors
Unique Quality: One of the worlds best hotels. It was built nearly 100 years ago and has had millions of Dollars spent on it five years ago in a major renovation. A little pricy during the summer months but very affordable for the rest of the year
Directions: Alongside the British Columbia Parliament building at the Inner Harbour
There are few hotels that give you a map when you check in so you can find your way around! A friend of mine left me chocolates through the Concierge, that went out and hand picked some choc -- wow, what service. Everyone is friendly and I just can't imagine staying anywhere else since the Empress is so much apart of the skyline of Victoria. I think the spa is a bit expensive but the bath included with most rooms is big enough that you can walk down to LUSH and buy a bath bomb and make your own seaweed treatment. ;)
Unique Quality: Rooms are often unique in design -- my two stays have been vastly different from each other due to the different rooms. The service is exceptional and amazingly the other hotels in the area were more expensive !? Eh?? The Empress has shopping, food, an excellent Indian Buffet in the Bengal lounge, amazing views... it just has it all. It supposedly even has a ghost. I never had the pleasure to meet him or her, though so I guess I can't comment on that. :)
They also have excellent coffee and tea unlike some other hotel chains (sorry I'm not happy when I see Starbucks being "proudly served!")... including their own Fairmont teas. Yum, yum.
The Empress is Victoria's century old jewel, accomodating five stars in most tourist books. For more information about the Empress, check out my Must See Activities page.
Unique Quality: The hotel serves British style Afternoon Tea for eager patrons. The rooms are also very luxurious and among the best hotel surroundings in the city.
Directions: Next to the BC Parliament Buildings, the Royal BC Museum, and the end of the commericial section on Government St.
EMPRESS HOTEL: I didn't really stayed here, but it's a hotel belonging to the best chain CANADIAN PACIFIC HOTELS in Canada. So, it has to be good! Judging by the look of it, I passed by while walking around the harbor, I may not be able to afford it. But for those of you who'd like to explore Victoria, a one-night stay is recommended.
Empress Hotel (Victoria)
Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC
Empress Hotel - Victoria
The Empress Hotel,Victoria,B.C. Canada.
I will be in Victoria for 2 days and one night. We are taking the ferry from Vancouver.
I wanted to have do High Tea, and wonder what's the best place to do it?
Also, I would like to book a masssage or spa treatment, can someone recommend a good place? Is Magnolia Hotel a good spot? We are staying at that hotel.
Thanks a lot!
For High Tea, it is an easy one: The Fairmont Empress
The Fairmont Express is the most popular place for the ultimate high tea experience, but it's also very expensive (about $50 per person). If you don't feel like paying that much, I would recommend going to the Gatsby Mansion for afternoon tea (http://www.gatsbymansion.com/afternoontea-two.html). It's half the price ($24.95 per person) and portions are so good and generous, you might not be able to eat dinner that night!
Indeed, the Fairmont Empress is the most "well-known" place for having tea. However, I would refer to it as a tourist trap. In my tips section, I outline a number of places that serve tea in Victoria. Check it out to help make a decision on the tea experience that would suit you best. You can decide based on location, traditional or West Coast style, and how expensive it is. I have outlined which is best. See the link below for more information.
With respect to Spas, Victoria has a number of fantastic spas. Naturally, most of the major hotels have spas including the Fairmont Empress, Ocean Pointe Resort as well as the Hotel Grand Pacific. If you are wanting to know where the locals go, I would recommend Le Spa Sereine. It's in the heart of downtown at the corner of Government and Johnson St. It is reasonably priced and the atmosphere is wonderful and very relaxing. I would highly recommend it. Check it out at http://www.lespasereine.com/
PS: It's a very short walk from the Magnolia Hotel.
The High Tea at the Empress was a classy afair, romantic, but small. And the small portions are heavy on sugar. It is not a meal; it is basically a glorified dessert. If I go again, I'm going to have a coupla of big macs just before I go.
Latest Victoria hotel reviews
We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
Address: 721 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 1W5, Canada