The Fairmont Empress
What We Love
- Bengal Lounge’s signature cocktail, which features locally distilled Victoria gin
- Afternoon tea on the hotel’s veranda
- The hotel’s bike share program provides instant access to the famous Galloping Goose cycling trail
What To Know
- The hotel is a popular tourist attraction
- WiFi costs extra
- Pets are permitted, but fees apply
- While stately, the hotel feels a bit dated
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
The Fairmont Empress rules Victoria’s majestic Inner Harbor as grandly as the adjacent British Columbia Parliament buildings. The interior decor is just as stately, with leather wingback chairs, heavy golden curtains and an exposed timber lattice etched on the high ceilings. Potted palms, wood paneling and a tiger pelt accent the clubby, British Empire ambience.
Bed and Bath
The 477 guestrooms offer plush rugs and chairs, vase-style lamps, walnut writing desks and neutral walls adorned with framed floral pictures, while a pastoral watercolor palette casts the bedrooms in a traditional motif. All rooms have views of the city, garden, courtyard or Inner Harbor. The bathrooms feature marble and porcelain touches.
Bengal Lounge executive chef Morgan Wilson creates dishes such as south Indian chicken biryani and cassoulet of seasonal vegetables. The Fairmont’s signature Willow Stream Spa pampers guests with more than 85 treatments. Sip an afternoon tea (such as Fairmont Earl Gray or Kea Lani orange pineapple) on the veranda and enjoy the vista of the Inner Harbor (the view is best during the late spring and summer). Elsewhere, there’s a fully equipped gym, a heated indoor swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
In the Area
Victoria has grown out of its “wee bit o’Britain” reputation, adding local spirits, chic shopping districts and great culinary style to go with tearooms and brewpubs. Still Life, Addiction and North of Wednesday represent three of the brightest boutiques lining Johnson Street, in the trendy LoJo district. Tea lovers can relax along shopper-friendly Government Street at Silk Road, a local purveyor of interesting, organic green tea blends such as Moonlight on the Grove and Angelwater. The Empress’s apiary provides the honey for the popular Summer Haze Honey Hefe, crafted by Hoyne Brewing Company, one of four Victoria breweries.
How to Get There
Stayed in a harbour front room. Room was incredibly large with an open fireplace, sofa, coffee table and a large walk-in wardrobe. Did read that there had been a huge renovation and certainly they have created a very desirable hotel, in one of the best locations. The niggle that we had was the tiny bathroom with for some reason very low basins. I am average height and found it irritating to keep bending down and little surface space. Maybe the original design of the building wasn’t compromised, but a larger bathroom would have made this a 5/5 score.
The design of the dining rooms and gardens were beautifully created.
Can say check-in was easy and efficient.
I would love to stay again, should we ever find ourselves in the wonderful city of Victoria
Firstly this hotel is absolutely beautiful. It has a very imposing presence at the heart of Victoria. There is a lovely garden to walk around and the upper lobby area where the lounge’s etc are is stunning.
Having read some of the other reviews I have to agree with their comments.
I feel that for a hotel of this standard (and cost) to charge for WiFi is poor considering most of the restaurants in town can provide it for free.
Additionally I think It is poor of Fairmont to charge exorbitant rates for the car park.
I found alternative parking for less than half what Fairmont wanted to charge nearby.
I really don’t think this is a fair way to treat your guests.
Arrived pm, room not ready, checked in and told room would be ready in 20/30 minutes and they would text me room number. 40 minutes no text. Went back to reception after 45 minutes, room was actually ready!
Took bags to room and on the way had to do a slalom between housekeeping trolleys, housekeeper and porter who chatted away and made no attempt to ease transit past them with 2 suitcases. Got into room and it had all that was advertised but in a room that could have done without half of it, ie crammed in. Never had such a small bathroom in a hotel of this standard. It was a standard room so didn't expect a sea view but didn't expect to be looking at the service yard to the conference center and its roof. My wife rang housekeeping and asked for a jug of milk for her tea. They discussed type of milk and said they would send up a jug of 2% milk. 25 minutes later a knock at the door and a porter with 4 cartons of UHT milk! We already had that and expected proper fresh milk as agreed. Disappointed in lack of variety in eating and drinking facilities in the hotel. Only one bar, no coffee shop/deli, no alternative to main restaurant or terrace to eat. (Afternoon Tea a big thing at this hotel so may have been an option if you'd booked). All seems a bit picky but does fall short of what you should have from a 5* hotel.
Having said all that I would say don't be put off by this review. Marvelous architecture, recently upgraded, great location, just needs to sharpen up its act, maybe the brand just changing hands had an effect?
The building is very grand and in a prominent position overlooking sea, centrally situated for all amenities. We stayed in room 542 with sea view but found it extremely disappointing, and as a Presidents Club member would have expected much better. The room was far too small to be called a double, had nowhere to store your clothes and with 2 large suit cases there was nowhere to store them except on the floor which caused a trip hazard and was very inconvenient. The bathroom was also very small and with only 1 bathrobe suspect this room is only suitable for single occupant. The view to the water was also poor via a very small window which was accessed by climbing over a case and wall seat to see out of it. We did complain at the Presidents Club desk leaving a constructive list of improvements which could be made to make it less cluttered and more suitable for their guests. We received an apology and they agreed to waive the charges for their valet parking.
We are extremely disappointed with our recent stay at the Fairmont Empress. When we arrived from the Clipper Ferry, there were 1-2 people at the check in desk hustling to assist approximately 30 people. We waited in line for 25 minutes to check in. While in line, we had to flag down a Manager in the lobby and pointedly asked her to bring out more check in staff, which she obliged--isn't it her job to do this organically?
After receiving our room keys, we got upstairs to discover that the door lock battery was malfunctioned. We were locked out. Had to go back downstairs and wait in line YET AGAIN to get another room key. Room key battery malfunctioned again during our stay. Room was clean and plain. Bathroom was very small compared to other Fairmonts we have stayed in (Hawaii, Seattle, etc).
During tea at the Empress, the credit card readers were broken and we almost missed our ferry home because of inept service during tea. The servers took 15 minutes trying to figure out the credit card reader and wouldn't let us leave when we told them we needed to get out to catch the ferry!
We are President's Club members of the Fairmont and were so excited to celebrate our ENGAGEMENT with a nice weekend in Victoria. Victoria the city was charming, but the Fairmont was not. Extremely disappointed with the service and experience here.