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“Didn't Live Up To My Great Expectations”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
43 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Didn't Live Up To My Great Expectations”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 June 2014

Being a native of British Columbia, it was always my dream to stay at Victoria's landmark Fairmont Empress Hotel. I finally had that opportunity for five days in June however the experience didn't live up to my great expectations.

The exterior and dining areas of the hotel are undeniably beautiful. However, with a renovation in 1989, much of the interior - including your room - have a dated and tacky feel. Pink textured wallpaper and bathroom faucets from the 1980's don't scream "Victorian charm." We had to keep the windows open because there is no A/C (of course, it's a heritage building). I was a little hesitant to do so however after finding a spider crawling in the shower with me!

We dined at the hotel once for the breakfast buffet which was of mediocre quality. The dining room itself - which boasts stunning dark wood carved beams - seemed also rundown with ripped and dirty looking fabric chairs.

For those hoping to stay fit, the hotel does include a gym and pool in the basement. The facilities were clean and decent.

With that said, the staff are lovely and the location for tourists visiting the city simply can't be beat. You are steps from the BC Royal Museum & IMAX, the Parliament Building, the Robert Bateman museum, and an endless stretch of restaurants and pubs around the harbour. You are also only a 10 minute walk along the water to Fisherman's Wharf and a bus bound for Butchart Garden's stops right outside the hotel.

My recommendation: stay at a different hotel but include the Empress in your travel plans as a must-see landmark. Dine on the veranda, take an organized tour, visit the shops, or stay for $59 high tea. The Empress is a beautiful building and seeps with historic charm but staying here for an extended period of time may disappoint. Please keep in mind as you read this review that we are Fairmont President's Club members and stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs several times each year. I appreciate the Fairmont brand and love their castle-style hotels.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Niki M
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, 13 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Calgary,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on TripAdvisor of your recent stay with us. I was pleased to read there were many facets of your visit with us that you enjoyed. With the support of our owners we continue to address and improve upon our hotel product each year. The need for refurbishing our guestrooms is certainly an area we are discussing as we plan for future renovations. Your comments are helpful to us in this regard, and allow us to confirm that we are investing in improvements that are most important to our valued guests. My sincere apologies that the state of your guestroom took away from your overall experience. Your comments will certainly be shared and addressed with our Leadership team and owners with the goal of improving our product in the future. Thank you again for sharing the feedback. I would be happy to discuss your stay further should wish.

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
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3,455 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Mojacar, Spain
Level Contributor
72 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 June 2014

A beautiful, elegant, historic building. All rooms are different...we had a gorgeous room with a water view and fireplace. Romantic. This is truly the life! Location, service, ambiance all rolled into one. Do expect to pay accordingly, but well worth it.

Room Tip: Ask for the kind of room you would like...they're sure to have what your perfect room would be.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Mojaquera
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, 13 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Majocar,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a great review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I am so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your room and harbourview. As an interesting historical fact to share, The Empress Room, our formal dining room features ceiling molding that is actually done with horse hair and plaster! We offer 477 different rooms, all with unique configurations which is one of the features of our historic property. Thank you again for taking the time to write a review. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Fairmont Empress when you return to Victoria again.

Kind regards,

Don Fennerty
General Manager
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Edmonton
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 June 2014

This is a truly great hotel in the prime position on the harbor in Victoria. Central to everything, the hotel has all the qualities that are expected in a Fairmont. Spring/Summer in Victoria is definitely the best time to visit.


  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Helpful?
Thank William M
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, 13 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Edmonton,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on TripAdvisor. I was happy to read that you were able to enjoy our central location on the inner harbour close to so many attractions and venues. I hope that you had a chance to enjoy a city tour of Victoria to see all that our city has to offer. 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
Toronto
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2014

Spent 5 nights at the Empress with spouse. Room better than expected. The nice view helped. Didn't miss A/C due to nice weather. It is a classic older hotel that appeals to many but not everyone. Pleasant staff. President's Club membership had no cost and provided immediate check in at the front door. super fast. Gift shop has art prices in the $20,000 range so unless you are a Prince or oil baron, probably best avoided. Rather buy a souvenir from the aboriginals in the Harbor area where is it low priced and authentic.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Helpful?
Thank Paul M
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Toronto,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on TripAdvisor of your recent stay with us. I am happy to read that you enjoyed the history of the hotel. I am pleased to hear that the staff were pleasant, and that we were able to provide you with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. Our Fairmont Presidents' Club membership has some great attributes. The complimentary preference program does provide immediate and very fast check in, as well as other options to input onto your profile, as well as free internet, use of the BMW bicycles etc.
Thank you again for taking the time to write a review. We look forward to welcoming you back again when your travels bring you to Victoria again.

Kind regards,

Don Fennerty
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2014

For the price of the room, I expected a lot nicer accomodations. Other family who stayed here found a moldy coffee pot. Rooms do not have same layout with smaller less accomodating bathrooms, etc. If you are really into staying in a historic and don't expect top of the line room then this place would probably get a higher rating. If you expect to get top of the line, I would suggest one of the other beautiful properties also located on the harbor.

Room Tip: Find out where your room is before you book~
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank OnTheRoad062014
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Seattle,

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I am sorry to hear that your stay was not as memorable as we would like. We strive to provide the best experience and customer service that guests have come to expect of Fairmont Hotels. Your feedback is very important to us and I will be following up with your comments regarding the coffee pot. We are aways very happy to move you into a room that is more comfortable. Please do not hestitate to ask in the future. Thank you again for sharing the feedback; I would be happy to discuss your stay further should you wish.

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
Port Moody
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2014

Was recently at a conference and stayed for three nights. The ambiance, services, setting, food, amenities, and staff were top notch. Location is perfect in every way. Definitely a place to go back to.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Helpful?
Thank Colleen F
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Port Moody,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on TripAdvisor of your recent stay with us for your conference. I was happy to read that we were able to provide you with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. I am happy that you enjoyed our wonderful central location within walking distance to so many venues and attractions. 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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fort Langley, Canada
Level Contributor
215 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2014

It is one of the original majestic CN hotels of Canada. It is as much a landmark as it is a lodging place. It is very expensive to stay there but, if you are looking to enjoy Victoria to the max, this is the only place. Five star luxury in a building that could be called a museum. Plenty of interesting food with a British theme. Tons of shopping and sights nearby. Read about the city's contrived British theme and consider the Empress the epicenter of that marketing scheme. If you don't stay there, you will still have to visit. I love a scotch in one of the arm chairs of the Bengal Lounge in a spot where you can see that garden. Remember, this is the city of gardens. Go in the spring and you will be amazed. The weather is seldom horrible there so, early spring is still quite nice and you may get a lower rate. http://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/?cmpid=google_emp_search-branded_branded-e-revsh&s_kwcid=TC|1025556|victoria%20empress%20hotel||S|e|44332511460&gclid=CKXM2tCs8L4CFQhqfgodTi0Awg

Room Tip: Ask questions about the room. There are various views and the harbour one is the best. There are d...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mitchell K
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Fort Langley,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful review of your recent stay with us here at The Fairmont Empress. It is wonderful to read that you enjoyed the hotel and its history and ambiance. The Bengal Lounge is wonderful and I hope that you had a chance to try the famous Curry Buffet. Our gardens are magnificent. We have a very hardworking team who do a fantastic job of keeping them look pristine. 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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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
#8 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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