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“Great location, nice staff, we miss it already”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
111 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Great location, nice staff, we miss it already”
Reviewed 5 July 2013

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).

Room Tip: Some 5th floor rooms facing the harbour do not have a view. Be specific if you want a view. If you...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank junodee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FairmontEmpress1908, General Manager at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, 8 July 2013
Dear Valued Guest from Washington DC,
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I am sorry to hear that you did not have a view from your room and that our front desk staff did not communicate that to you at check in. Also, that no one got back to you following your request for a room with a view. I will be sharing your comments with our Front Office Manager so that she may follow up with her team. Thank you for the comments you shared about our local attractions. Fisherman's Wharf is great place to have lunch and Dallas Road provide exceptional views of the ocean. Thank you again for taking the time to write a review. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Fairmont Empress when your travels bring you to Victoria again.

Kind regards,

Don Fennerty
General Manager
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3,484 reviews from our community

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Athens, Georgia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 July 2013

The Fairmont Empress is stately and grand with 100 years plus of history in her halls, but with all of the conveniences of a modern hotel. I stayed there four nights for a conference, and enjoyed every minute of it. I attended two conference receptions in the ballrooms of the Empress. The food served at these events was fabulous, and waiters and bartenders were top notch. The staff is what really makes this hotel....always friendly and helpful. I hope to return soon with my wife so that she can share in the wonderful experience I had at the Empress in Victoria.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank DawgOnTheRoad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fairbanks, Alaska
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 July 2013

For years while our children were younger, some of our best trip memories are of our visits to Victoria and the Empress. Being that Canada doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving when we do in the states, this always made for a special trip. We got the benefit of all the Christmas decorations and festivities, but without the local demands on facilities and services.
As great as all those things were, it was the Empress that brought it all together. The holiday spirit truly lived in the hotel. The caring staff the decked halls and everything about the location made for these wonderful family memories.
The children are grown, but they still remember those times at the Empress. Also, we remind them because we still go and enjoy the magic that is the Empress
Thank You

Room Tip: We always enjoy the harbor view. We are boaters and have cruised to Victoria on several occasions...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Charles L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
21 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2013 via mobile

Iconic hotel which lives up to the hype. Stayed 2 nights, had a nice roomy room but the real star is the public areas. The Bengal lounge is straight out of gatsby and had live jazz the night we were there. Only gripe is no free wifi which on my Canada trip encompassing 9 hotels (mostly not as fancy) made it unique. Would defo stay again

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DDmy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FairmontEmpress1908, General Manager at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, 8 July 2013
Dear Valued Guest,
Thank you for taking the time to write such a great review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I am so pleased to hear that you enjoyed your room, the public spaces and our historic Bengal Lounge. The Bengal Lounge is a great place to relax, enjoy a cocktail and listen to some live Jazz. We are fortunate to have live music 4 nights a week. While we do charge for internet, it is a complimentary benefit to being a Fairmont President's Club member. I highly recommend that you join as there are many other benefits. Thank you again for taking the time to write a review. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Fairmont Empress when your travels bring you to Victoria again.

Kind regards,

Don Fennerty
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2013

Was told by everyone to go for afternoon tea here. Can't say it was anything special compared to other places I've visited - nice sandwiches and cakes and lots of tea but it cost $126!!!!! Also, had the worst toilets in the whole of the two weeks I'd visited in the two weeks I was in Canada!!! Have tea at the gardens instead - half the price and don't be taken in by the hype. We also felt rushed as well.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mollie30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boca Raton
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2013

From the moment my wife and I arrived to the time we checked out we received excellent treatment from the staff. The Hotel,our room,the excellent food were top notch. It was a wonderful place to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank poppamarv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, United States
Level Contributor
72 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2013

Adjust your expectations so that you understand that your room will be small and maybe a tiny bit shabby chic. Once you understand that, you can experience what elegant accommodations were in an earlier period. The afternoon tea felt very turn of the century -- twentieth century, that is. We truly enjoyed the stay.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Cynthia L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Fairmont Empress

Property: The Fairmont Empress
Address: 721 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 1W5, Canada
Phone Number:
Region: Canada > British Columbia > Vancouver Island > Victoria Capital Regional District > Victoria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Victoria
#7 Spa Hotel in Victoria
#9 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#13 Business Hotel in Victoria
#16 Romantic Hotel in Victoria
#17 Family Hotel in Victoria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fairmont Empress 4*
Number of rooms: 477
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

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