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“Great history... but needs a renovation”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #20 of 46 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed 25 December 2013

Amazing historical property, with nice lobby and exterior grounds. Friendly staff. Long hallways make it a maze to get to rooms, but this is understandable given that it is a historical property. Rooms are in need of decor updates and bathroom renovations. This has nothing to do with it being a historical property - it just looks like the property has not been maintained well. Breakfast service in restaurant was amazing.

I recommend visiting this hotel because of this history, maybe for afternoon tea or a drink to enjoy the facilities, but it's not worth staying here until the rooms get updated.

Stayed: November 2013, travelled on business
2  Thank PolarBear777
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 reviewResponded 31 December 2013

Dear Valued Guest from Ottawa,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a great review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I was sorry to hear that your room was not what you had hoped for. We want to ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed while you are staying here so please next time do not hesitate to contact the Front Office to inquire about a room change. I was also happy to read that you enjoyed the historical aspects of our property as well as our breakfast. 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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2,432 - 2,438 of 3,978 reviews

Reviewed 25 December 2013

Yes, the location is amazing. Yes, the hotel is gorgeous. Yes, the staff are gracious and accommodating.
However. . . the rest of the experience ranged from ordinary to obnoxious. Since it is such a landmark, you can expect endless crowds coming and going, most of which are so intoxicated by the beauty of the facility they walked right into us. We stayed the few days before Christmas, so there were gaudy trees everywhere from some sponsored event. These varied from lovely to ridiculous, but because of them, ALL traffic stopped within the hotel. The trees were strewn down every hallway, so there was no way to escape the gawkers.
The rooms, while quaint, don't match the quality, quiet, or decor of the less expensive chains. In fact, the walls were so thin, we regularly heard the coughing and bathrooming of those around us. Avoid the upgrade to the "bay view." One small window with a glimpse of the bay does not justify the expense.
Perhaps worst of all, I did not expect to be so nickle and dimed. Parking is rather expensive, there are no free local calls, and Wi-Fi is $15 a day. For such a "luxury" hotel, it would seem some of this could have been absorbed.
Needless to say, though we come to Victoria several times a year, we won't be back. There are better, less expensive options with equally good location.

Room Tip: Don't bother with the upgrade, one small window does not make a very good "bay view."
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank jesuistom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 December 2013

This is my 8th stay at the Empress in the past 7 years....as you can tell, I'm a repeat offender ;) Each time I've stayed at The Empress I've never been disappointed, from check in to check out, the staff is always accommodating, friendly and there for whatever you need. I've always been satisfied with our room, comfortable, clean and perfect for our weekend stay. My favorite part of every one of my stays is Afternoon Tea. Yesterday was my 8th time havering tea at The Empress. It is always the most enjoyable part of my trip, and I will continue to have tea on each visit. Our server, Krista makes the experience even more special because she always goes above and beyond for us. We request her each time we go, and she never disappoints. All the staff durning tea service is great too, but Krista is the best. So thanks you Fairmont Empress for another memorable friend getaway weekend. See you in the spring.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled on business
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Thank colleens390
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 December 2013

The staffs in the hotel are very helpful and accommodating. They give me some freebies since it is my birthday month. My stay was very memorable since I booked a room in front of the harbour. It looks so rOmantic and the service are excellent.

  • Stayed: November 2013
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Thank CarlaEscolano
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 December 2013

Its Fairmont... of course..that should be sufficient for the discerning traveler... remember this is a, beautiful, monumental historic old building and does not come with floor to ceiling windows..the rooms can be smaller than what we are used to.. but as far as I am concerned the opulence and quality of soft furnishings,comfy beds and pillows..le labo rose 31 toiletries (in Gold rooms and suites) and interior design, have made the very best of the space on offer. Its a beautiful building and the staff, especially our Gold Concierge team are amazing, helpful, kind and resourceful.I would recommend spending a little extra if you can and availing of Gold service and Amenities.
The seasonal decorations were magnificent and I actually lost count of the amount of 14 foot Xmas trees...
The dining room is stunning and service impeccable..the food presentation in November was not as good as Summer and lacked the incredible Fairmont buffet.. nonetheless it was delicious and always try the Fairmonts own tea... they have some delicious blends... The Bengal Lounge is so comfortable and full of ambience.. Afternoon tea on Sunday a must and cocktails are superb..a wonderful Mixologist in the bar. I am a huge fan of Fairmont and find their attention to detail and service unparalleled in Canada.

Room Tip: Try to get a Gold room
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank LuxuryAll
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 reviewResponded 31 December 2013

Dear Valued Guest from Vancouver,

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 we were able to provide you with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. It is wonderful to read that you were able to enjoy the Bengal Lounge as well as the Dining Room and our wonderful Afternoon Tea experience. 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
Reviewed 10 December 2013

First visited the Empress in 1972 when it was in need of some TLC. Came back 20 years ago with the family and enjoyed High Tea in the old lobby. Returned this week and stayed for 2 nights. When we arrived we found we had been bumped up to "Gold" level and given a beautiful suite. The gold level also includes a complimentary gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea; evening heavy Hors d'oeuvors; and desert. That helps offset the cost. As beautiful and gracious and luxurious as the Empress is, it is horribly expensive: rooms and dining. Bring the credit card and give up worrying about it! It really is an exceptional experience. The staff was extremely friendly in the "Gold" section. Some of the staff was friendly in other areas, although our first encounter at the main reception area was with a woman who was anything but friendly. Nice pool and sauna area. Very extensive exercise room. And of course the setting is perfect. Our room (270) looked directly out over the harbor. The Empress is one of the world's great hotels.

Room Tip: Ask for a harbor view
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank JPMcGuire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 December 2013

the facade of the empress has endured for decades and is as impressive as ever. It is a gracious building that was definitely at its zenith under CP hotels...but it is now a money maker for Fairmont. Our room (149.95 a night) was very nicely appointed with a comfortable bed, large bathroom and enough room. However we looked over the back of the hotel and its myriad compressors, pumps, vents and other exhaust systems that either run all the time, or start up around 4 in the morning. to have your window open is an assault on your senses as well as your ears....surely in the technological age, something can be done to dampen those annoying sounds. But the biggest issue I have with this hotel is the nickel and diming approach to its clients...when I pay that amount for a room and about $30 for breakfast...I should not have to pay $15 a day for WIFI...give me a break...adding automatically a $5 delivery charge for room service and an automatic 15% gratuity is not fair for two eggs, two pieces of bacon, toast and coffee that I can get across the street for less than half of that price and I actually GET the service that the gratuity is meant to reward for. NO...not my idea of good value for money...but it is the empress and its offerings will appeal to a large number of clients. the Bengal room is a good opportunity to indulge as is the afternoon tea....but once in a lifetime...
nice weekend away..but a bit of a taste left in my wallet.....

Room Tip: Make sure you get a room on the front of the hotel...for a couple of reasons..the view is spectacula...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Footsac
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

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
#6 Spa Hotel in Victoria
#9 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#13 Business Hotel in Victoria
#14 Family Hotel in Victoria
#16 Romantic Hotel in Victoria
Price Range: £146 - £392 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fairmont Empress 4*
Number of rooms: 477
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Regarded as a Condé Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the Fairmont Empress graces Victoria's sparkling Inner Harbour with an iconic presence. The Fairmont Empress, Victoria B.C.’s most iconic hotel, has just unveiled a $60 million dollar restoration.This luxury hotel offers 464 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, and expansive meeting and wedding space adjacent to the conference centre. Located on the picturesque West Coast of Canada, this is the ideal location to explore all the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. ... 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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