We spent four nights at the Fairmont Empress in June 2013. We had asked for an upgrade and were given a huge traditionally decorated suite on the 5th floor that came with two bathrooms. While the suite overlooked the harbour, we soon discovered that our view was almost totally blocked by the inaccessible stone balcony located on the front of the hotel. We couldn’t really see much of anything unless we peered between the stone pillars or climbed up and stood on the very wide four-foot high windowsills (not good for kids). It was only when we asked the next morning about switching rooms for a view that they told us that our suite was considered to be a “no view” room. The front desk said they would call us if it was possible for our family to switch to a room with a view, but they never called us at all. I was a bit disappointed by this result and I would have appreciated it if they had warned us that the suite lacked a view when we checked in so we could have made an informed decision at the start of our stay. Even so, the size of our suite was incredible and since one of us is an early riser, we all ended up really enjoying the extra space. As other reviewers have noted, the furniture and décor is rather dated, but the bed was super-comfortable, we enjoyed usage of the mini-refrigerator and the general theme of the entire hotel is one of understated historical elegance. If you do not expect more, you will not be disappointed. One word of caution: on the day we arrived, it was very warm and there is no AC in the hotel. The windows do not open more than about 6 inches, but there are ceiling fans (one was a bit creaky) and portable fans are located in the closets, along with umbrellas.
The location of the hotel is excellent; we walked to the Victoria Clipper, hiked over to Dallas Road (check out the kite-surfing in the evening on the beach), wandered around the James Bay neighborhood, visited a part of Beacon Hill Park, ate at Fisherman’s Wharf (check out Redfish Bluefish) and there is a ton of nearby shopping. There are a lot of street shows. We did not eat at the hotel, but enjoyed the take-out from the many nearby restaurants (Ebizo for sushi, Pho Vy, Nellies). We also loved our visit to Butchart Gardens (we arrived around 1 pm and had no trouble with crowds) and a drive out to Sooke for hiking and to see some of the wildlife. You do not really need a car in downtown Victoria, but it is worth getting one to see more of the island; there are rental car companies located one block behind the hotel so you can walk to them.
We missed the Empress within minutes of checking out—we will most certainly go back (albeit not during the heat of summer).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Fairmont Empress sits majestically at the cornerstone of Victoria's sparkling Inner Harbour. This landmark hotel features turn of the century architecture, classic beauty and an unrivaled location on the water. It features the highly acclaimed Willow Stream Spa regarded as one of the best spas in Canada. Food lovers can sample the English ritual of Afternoon Tea, savour the famous curry buffet in The Bengal Lounge or sample award-winning food and wine in The Empress Room. The Fairmont Empress offers wireless internet access in all guestrooms, and it is complimentary for our Fairmont President's Club members, free to join. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Fairmont Empress Hotel Victoria
- Fairmont Hotel Victoria
- Fairmont Hotel Empress
- Empress Hotel Victoria
- Fairmont Victoria
- Victoria Fairmont
- Fairmont Empress Hotel
- The Fairmont Empress Victoria, Vancouver Island