The majestic turn of the century hotel is perfectly situated harborside and is the most photographed attraction on an island brimming with photographic opportunities. Victoria is known as the "Garden Island" because of its profusion of flowers and famed gardens, including Buchart Gardens. Flowers sprout seemingly everywhere; in baskets and beds, as trimmings and as hedges. Street vendors take advantage of the bounty by selling cut flowers to shoppers and passersby. Double-deck busses add to the charming street scene, evoking images of merry old England, as do the many flower-laden horse drawn carriages ambling through the town.
The Empress has her own gardens worth visiting. Take a stroll among the flowers either before or after the famed "High Tea" which is served as true high art and requires reservations in advance. You will be competing with the 100,000 visitors annually who stop in to enjoy this time-honored tradition.
The hotel rooms are not huge, but are furnished comfortably in period décor. Because Victoria enjoys such a moderate climate due to the jet stream, air conditioning is viewed as an optional device, but would have been welcomed during our mid-summer visit.
Directly outside the hotel entrance is the central harbor and entertainment/shopping district of Victoria. I could have spent days browsing the unique shops, many of which made me feel I was in Britain or Ireland rather than Canada. An intense variety of cultural cuisines, with Pacific Rim influences to match the British and Canadian, are available to visitors.
Victoria is only one city on a rather large island, (albeit the major one being as it is the capital of British Columbia). So many options exist for exploring the further reaches of the island; hiking, boating, fishing, golfing to name a few. We tried out the golf but spent the bulk of our short visit just strolling the city and soaking in the wonderful charm and ambiance. Sitting harborside in the glow of the afternoon sun watching a street musician entertain the crowds, having a brew at the dockside café, and yes, taking that romantic carriage ride through the town are all highlights we stored up during this short but memorable trip.
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May 13, 2009
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August 4, 2010
November 25, 2009
October 16, 2006
by Susan Travels
Fair Oaks, California
November 10, 2003
From journal Victoria BC Getaway
July 14, 2005
From journal More English than England
by Barber E. Lane
Lake Forest, California
November 1, 2002
It is huge and very stately with its ivy covered walls. Bellmen man the circular front entrance. Underground parking is available for about $6.00 US per day for hotel guests.
The front lobby is spacious but underfurnished and worn looking. At elevator exit on upper floors, there is a gorgeous view of the inner harbor with sofa for viewing. The reserved room was with two beds for three of us. There were no two bed rooms available, but they could bring in a roll away. Before expressing my displeasure, the clerk consulted her manager and told me we'd be given a larger room at the same price quoted. We hit the jackpot.
Our room was on the end of a center hall and backed up to the corner of the building. The view was of the parking lot, not the harbor. This particular room was painted a lovely soft mint green and had very high ceilings, maybe 12 feet. There was a king sized bed, luxurious bedspread, French Provincial desk and armoire, upholstered sitting bench, and best of all, a circular sitting area with two chairs and a table. The crown moldings around the windows and ceiling were very Old World and the window ledge was angled and unique. The floor space was ample. The bathroom seemed very British with black and white tiles and goose-neck silver wall mirror over the sink. It reaked quality though it was smallish in size.
Though I was immediately swept away by the romantic look of this room, I was still skeptical about what my six foot son would be required to sleep on for the night. No roll away was in the room. After several calls downstairs, the "roll-away bed" arrived. It was a thick quality, regular-sized, twin box springs and mattress on wheels. My son was oh so comfortable and I was very happy. The housekeeping attendant who delivered the bed couldn't have been nicer or more helpful, and showered us with enough towels, washcloths, soaps, and shampoo to last a week. There was ample room in the circular alcove to place the twin bed and still be able to walk around it.
Due to a clerical eror, we were charged less than the usual rate for a standard two bed room, based on comparisons with friends also staying there. The concierge located next to the lobby elevator was helpful in getting dinner reservations, it took my own phone call to get the correct time. Maybe my tip wasn't enough.
There is definately an air of snobbery at this hotel but the service personnel tried hard to please. Staying at the Empress Hotel was a once in a lifetime event for us and very memorable.
From journal Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere - Charming Victoria
by smmmarti guide
February 27, 2002
From journal Journey Across Canada via Rail
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
September 17, 2000
From journal Weekend in Victoria