The Fairmont Empress (most commonly known as The Empress) is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Located on Government Street facing the Inner Harbour, the Empress has become an iconic symbol for the city itself. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its national significance.
The hotel has 477 rooms, with most either overlooking the Inner Harbour or the hotel's rear courtyard gardens. It has four restaurants, including The Bengal Lounge, which is decorated in Victorian-era, Colonial Indian style (when Queen Victoria was the Empress of India) or Kipling's, which is named after its once frequent guest and visitor, author Rudyard Kipling. In 2005, Kipling's closed its doors to the public in order for the hotel to gain more space for private functions. The hotel has gym facilities, a whirlpool bath and an indoor swimming pool.
During the 1989 renovation, the Victoria Conference Centre was built on the parking lot behind the hotel and connected to the hotel via the hotel's conservatory. The hotel provides catering for the conference centre.
It may be a little excessive and a little expensive (They do say that BC stands for "Bring Cash!) but when visiting Victoria you should indulge in one of Victoria's grandest traditions - Afternoon Tea at the Empress.
For over 100 years, the majestic lobby of this landmark hotel has played host to England's most beloved ritual - the taking of Afternoon Tea.
Award-winning Pastry Chefs enusure an authentic and memorable experience - from Tea through to freshly baked raison scones served with Devon-style double Jersey cream and strawberry preserves.
Served in the relaxing atmosphere of their elegant Tea Lobby, overlooking Victoria's sparkling Inner Harbor in the stately Harbourside Room or under the hand-painted ceiling of the Library, Afternoon Tea is an absolute 'must do' for all who visit Victoria
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It’s hard to imagine the inner harbor without the Empress Hotel but a couple of decades ago the hotel was run down and being considered for demolition. Now lovingly restored, the hotel is possibly the most recognizable icon of Victoria’s inner harbor. Adding to its popularity, the hotel is THE place to go for tea, serving as many as eight hundred patrons each day.
This is an activity enjoyed by many who visit Victoria. It is very English and elegant and also pricey.
If tradition is your thing and you don't mind the price, then this is where you want to go.
Many celebrities and also royalty have been here. The raisin scones and the strawberries and whipped cream are said to be wonderful. It's been a very long time since I was there but I am sure it is still an amazing experience.
The cost is around $50.00 per person. When I went it was much less of course.
The Empress Hotel stands as the icon of Victoria. It's impressive ivy-strewn red brick facade sitting prettily on the waters of the Inner Harbor. It opened its doors in 1908 after four lengthy years of construction and was designed by none other than Francis Rattenbury who had also drawn up the plans for the British Colombia Parliament Building on the adjacent corner of the Inner Harbor. Built in an Edwardian Chateau style, it has been the focal point of tourist activity since the 1920s.
High Tea is still served in its Tea Lobby, to upwards of 800 people per day in peak summer season. Along with tea, guests can expect an assortment of English sandwiches such as cucumber and scones with fresh cream. Cost is C$ 70 per person.
This beautiful hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury and it opened in 1908 and this has been an unmissale city landmark ever since. It offers a guided tour where visitors stroll through fully-restored halls and public areas dressed in Victoriana furnishings that are frequented by movie stars and visiting royalty.
If you want to take the traditional afternoon tea, they you can try the hotel's Tea Lounge. It's expensive and touristy. There's a dress code (no running shoues, sorts dirty, jeans or backpacks)
Just like the Legislature Buildings, the Empress Hotel is such an important landmark in Victoria, it's hard to believe there were talks of tearing it down in the 1960s. The impressive building designed by Francis Rattenbury opened in 1908 as part of the CP Rail collection of grand Canadian hotels. Numerous celebrities have stayed at the Empress throughout the years, and the story goes that some guests who died while staying at the hotel have never truly left the place...!
The Empress Hotel is famous for its afternoon tea, for which a few hundred visitors come to the hotel everyday. At $49,95 per person, there's no doubt that you're paying a lot of money for the ambiance alone. Visitors are however welcome to walk around the main floor of the hotel and enjoy the rose gardens that surround the Empress free of charge.
A long, long time ago, the manager of the CPR railway wanted to build a chain of luxury hotels stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The final stop on his grand tour would be the Empress Hotel. It was designed by Francis Rattenbury and constructed between 1904 and 1908. From the exterior, take note of the French Chateaux-style peaked roof, perched atop a building combining the best elements of English architecture. Inside, look around for the amazing stained glass dome in the Palm Court and the tiger-skin rug mounted on the wall in the Bengal Lounge.
As a tourist, you're welcome to wander through the hotel to check out the many stores and restaurants. The Empress is famous for its Afternoon Tea, featuring their signature tea blend, scones and bite-sized sandwiches. You're paying ($40 CAD or so) for the experience, not the food. Shopping is limited to expensive wool and cashmere sweaters, Native art and jewelry- all sold at a high premium. If you need some R&R, check out The Willow Stream Spa, one of Victoria's top destinations for pampering. The hotel is attached to the Victoria Conference Center, which sponsors a fantastic Christmas tree decorating contest for local businesses in December (admission by donation).
The Empress Hotel is synonymous with Victoria. Located downtown overlooking the Inner Harbour, it's certainly Victoria's most beloved landmark.
I admit that it's not often that a hotel is a "must see" in a city, but the Empress is such an important part of Victoria's identity, if you're going to spend any amount of time in Victoria, it would not be complete without a quick look at the hotel. And from the masses of tourists that come into this hotel every day (most of whom do not even stay there), they'd probably agree!
The Empress Hotel was built in an Edwardian architectural style the early 1900's and was considered the most prestigious hotel in the city. Members of the British Royal family, the world's aristocracy, and even movie stars would choose to stay there. Even today there's still a feeling of old world high end elegance when you walk through its doors, reminiscent of the colonial Victorian era.
As a tourist, there are several things one can do at the Empress:
You can do a quick browse through their north lobby which has a lot of photographs of famous people that stayed in the Empress.
In the south lobby there's the famous "High Tea at the Empress" which is very expensive (about $60 per person) in which you enjoy fresh fruit with cream and a platter of tiny sandwiches and bite-sized desserts while sipping tea in fine china. It's hugely popular and you must reserve well in advance.
There's the Bengal Lounge with a giant Bengal Tiger skin mounted on the wall, reminiscent of English colonial India. They serve all kinds of meals there, but their curry is probably the most famous.
There's also the Fairmont store inside the south lobby where you can purchase Empress tea, china tea cups, and other elegant gifts.
Outside of the Empress on the south side, there's a beautiful rose garden. Generally the roses are in full bloom by June.
Even if you are not staying here, you should still take a stroll through the Fairmont Empress Hotel, built in 1908 along Victoria's waterfront. Or if your wallet is weighing you down, stop in for the lavish and expensive afternoon tea or for a drink in the Bengal Lounge.
When I first saw the Fairmont Empress Hotel, I was reminded of the Chateau Frontenac hotel that we had just seen in Quebec City and the Royal York in Toronto. It turns out that all three of these hotels were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage tourism across Canada, the trains would bring the tourists and the tourists would stay at their hotels, a clever marketing ploy.
The Empress was designed by Francis Rattenbury, the same architect that designed the Legislative Building (Parliament), both of which dominate Victoria's inner harbor.
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