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
- Handicap Accessible
- 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
On a short road trip to Tofino travelling with an Aussie friend with the opportunity to show Vancouver Island and the only choice to stay when in Victoria on this adventure was simply the Fairmont Empress.
Having already having stayed at most Canadian Pacific Hotels historic properties, the Fairmont Empress was of course the westcoast gem and beckoned my first stay.
I utilized a 'locals rate" which included parking ( in and out privileges), a beautifully appointed room on the fifth floor with two queen size beds and standard Fairmont expectation of the whole experience.
This hotel, steeped in British Columbia's history was also was 'literally the crown' experience of the stay. We were greeted in a welcome and friendly manner and check-in was expeditiously taken care of, including the small chat of the awarenesses of the 'roadwork' on the way to Tofino - in ensuring we were aware of the delays on the way. The refurbished hotel looks great and pays great homage to its regal namesake.
Although my stay was short, breakfast in the 'Q' dining room was hearty and hot. We were served promptly and with no rush.
The hotel services such as pool and jacuzzi were easily located and generous supply of towels, robes and slippers available.
The Fairmont Empress - surpassed my expectation and made a great impression to my guest in showing this small part of Canada before heading to Canada's wilderness and rugged coast.
Really still a great place for tea and to visit. I used to live on the island would head up to Victoria a fair bit and loved to stop in at the hotel. Took the wife and kids for tea and sandwiches which was also great.
We only had 1 night stay and that was a GOOD thing. Had we stayed 2 nights I would have complained to the front desk. We were upgraded on our room (with Amex fine dining)or at least that is what we were told. Our view overlooked rooftops. The air conditioner never seemed to really kick in. The bathrooms were small and NOT upscale or updated like you would expect from the Fairmont. The bathroom wasn't clean and had dirt on the walls. The room was comparable to staying at a Holiday Inn. We did enjoy the bar it was quite lovely, the staff were friendly and the breakfast was good. I am sure there are better hotels in Victoria.