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.
- 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