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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Beverly, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
417 reviews
89 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 293 helpful votes
“Only one first impression!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

"You only have one chance to make a first impression." Unfortunately, my first impression of the Fairmont Empress was the 60 minute wait I experienced waiting for my room to be ready. I arrived around 4:20 in the afternoon, and was told it would be a while until my room was ready. I am a Fairmont President's Club member, and was surprised to hear this, as I don't think I've ever had to wait for a room before. I asked what time check-in was, and was told 4:00. After waiting the hour, I was given my room key. I had a harbor view room, which really wasn't worth the extra money. I knew in advance that there was no air conditioning in the hotel. What I didn't know was that the window only opened about 6 inches, and did not have a screen. There were a table and chairs situated in front of the window, making it difficult to enjoy the view. The window had multiple bird droppings on it, also making the view unpleasant. I realize this is an historic hotel, but I don't know that it lives up to its reputation. The room was pleasant enough, but the bathroom was quite small. On checkout, I was offered a complimentary breakfast, which I accepted. The follow up after completing the survey which was emailed to me was also excellent. Although my experiences would probably cause me to choose another hotel if I were to visit Victoria again, the hotel staff did try to make up for my negative experience.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled solo
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank lirwin13
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 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Beverly,

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. I sincerely apologize that your room was not ready until long after the check in time of 4:00 pm which has taken away from your first impression of the Fairmont Empress. 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. Thank you again for sharing your 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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3,450 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
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (922)
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English first
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

This review is for a "Harbour View Deluxe King" described on Fairmont's website as an "elegant room with harbourview (sic) and classic period decor". The good: prime location, decent linens, grand exterior. The bad: the room was a tiny unventilated cell, subdivided from an original room with a drywall partition. There was only one window, oddly placed in the corner, that afforded a view of the exterior wall and windows of the adjacent wing. To be fair, one could catch a glimpse of the harbor if one had their back to wall opposite the bed (by the chair scuff marks). The cramped bathroom was outfitted with cheap light fixtures, cheap plastic handled faucets, and a plastic knobbed shower valve that did not seem to be pressure balanced. The tiny tub was either poorly refinished or a factory second. There were no robes provided, but there was a janky dollar store hairdryer that is placed in a terrycloth bag to transform it into a "luxury item". The bathroom featured brown stains on the bathroom door and moldy grout which matched the color palette of the "period furniture".
Like many hotels in Victoria, the Empress is not air conditioned, but this is not a problem if the windows are opened to let in the typical cool sea breeze. However, the sole window was blocked to allow only a 2" slit of an opening which is the only possible means of obtaining fresh air. Our room was about 90 degrees at 11:00 PM with no way of cooling it off.
As consolation for the above, we were treated to a number of scripted customer service phrases ( "I'm so sorry the room did not meet your expectations") followed by zero effort to address the situation. I was told I would receive a text when the room was ready: didn't happen. I requested a different room, but was shown a non-view room by a service entrance. I requested an alternate deluxe view room (what I had paid for) and was told I would receive a call when the alternate room was cleaned: it didn't happen. After returning from dinner and finding our room/cell baking away, the night manager refused to provide a screwdriver or maintenance staff to open the window. He did however, make the hollow promise of relocating us if I went back to my room and waited by the phone (sorry, heard that one before). I can only assume that dissembling customer service is hotel policy since the experience was so consistent.
The overall experience could be chalked up to the vagaries of travel, except that this room was north of $400 with taxes and hidden fees. I have stayed in several hotels within a two block radius which have bigger, cleaner rooms, opening windows, pools, saunas, polite and helpful staff; these rooms range from $100 to $160 per night during high season. For the Fairmont's price, I expected a lot better; my request for a partial refund was ignored. If you do decide to stay at the Empress during summer, bring a crowbar so the window can be opened and the room ventilated as designed. Better yet, walk through the ground floor for a glimpse of faded glory, then sleep and eat somewhere else.

Room Tip: Find another hotel
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ChainsawMcGraw
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 August 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. I will personally be following up with our Executive Housekeeper regarding your room cleanliness and the lack of bath robes. The need for refurbishing our guestrooms is certainly an area we are discussing with our new owners as we plan for future renovations. My sincere apologies that the state of your guestroom took away from your overall experience. Thank you also for your comments regarding not receiving a text or call when your room was ready. This must have been frustrating and I will be discussing this with our Leadership team. 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
Santa Clara, California
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

We have stayed at the Empress since the early 1980s. It is our favorite place in Victoria. The staff is outstanding from top to bottom.

For example: We were there during Busker week and a stage was set up almost under our window. I like to take a nap in the afternoon and couldn't because of the noise. The Empress' management resolved the problem by providing me with a quite day room where I could nap.

Room service is outstanding and will go out of their way to provide you with an excellent in-room dining experience.

The hotel grounds are well kept and worth a stroll around the property. Local attractions are within easy access.

In summary we really like the Empress and will continue to stay there whenever we are in Victoria.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Jeff 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, 8 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Santa Clara,

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 hear that we were able to assist when you needed a quiet room. I am happy you enjoyed our wonderful location within walking distance to so many venues, as well as our manicured gardens which our team of gardeners take great pride in keeping in pristine condition. 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
Level Contributor
39 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

We stayed in a Fairmont Gold 2 bedroom suite, and it was wonderful! The view of the harbor was incredible. The Gold Lounge was a great bonus. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast each morning, and loved the evening snack time as well. The chocolate covered strawberries in the late eve was wonderful! The staff in the Gold Lounge was especially great - there were 2 young ladies in particular that really helped us out with local recommendations for sights and experiences. One was pregnant, I think, and the other was a friendly young lady. The bedrooms were lovely, with nice décor and linens. Same with the bathrooms. I felt that the staff was always making sure everything went well. My only complaint with the room - our son slept on the pull out couch, and the mattress was horrible, you could feel the springs coming through. Otherwise, wonderful!

Room Tip: If you can afford the Gold experience, it is well worth the money. Harbor view rooms are wonderful!
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank alliek99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Surrey
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

My wife and I stayed here for our 5th wedding anniversary. The only hick up was when i booked it they told me it was on the 4th floor facing the harbor and we were put in the 1st floor. That being said. The room was fantastic and the meal at the empress room was amazing.and very romantic we had the royal dinner.

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

Helpful?
Thank Dean I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Orange
1 review
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2014

Extremely corporate
No warmth
Dirty rooms. Carpets unclean very bad experience considering my wife's birthday week
No matter what unclean and unhelpful and unfriendly and uncaring and very ordinary sadly

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

Helpful?
Thank Daniel D
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 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest,

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. I will personally be following up with our teams about your comments about the carpets in your room. 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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South East England
Level Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 August 2014

This hotel is in a stunning location, right on the waters edge in Victoria. Having arrived by seaplane it was a short walk up from the inner harbour to the hotel. we had pre booked a deluxe room and after a good experience at reception, we were disappointed to reach our room, it was badly lit, with very dirty windows and overall a little depressing. I retuned to reception and Alex the receptionist did do all he could to help us move rooms. this did however cost me a further CAD£50 a night to move from the first to 5th floor, with a small window overlooking the harbour. The room though was much brighter and lighter. We had lunch and dinner several times during our stay at the Verandah restaurant. This is a fantastic restaurant to watch the sun going town with a good selection of food and wines. The most outstanding feature by far though is the staff who looked after us in the restaurant, Adrian, Martina and Madeleine were first class on every occasion we visited and certainly improved my overall rating from 3 to 4 for our stay. The pool is well worth a visit too.

If there is one area to improve upon, its the organisation of the breakfast room. I stay in hotels at least once a week on business and haven't experienced such disorganisation before. On both mornings the booking in of guests was slow often with 10-15 people queuing down the corridor for up to 10-15 minted waiting to be seated. On both occasions i counted up to 8 tables fully made and ready to be used which just added to waiting guests frustration, however there seems to be a blockage at the restaurant check in desk. Clearly there will always be pressure at times given the limited number of tables vs hotel guests, however it certainly was an issue whenever we walked past over the breakfast period.
If you visit Victoria, you won't find a better location for a hotel. Despite a few issues, the service from the staff made up for it.

Room Tip: Ask for a high room overlooking the harbour or gardens. Make us of the pool, its a great facility...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank MS12344321
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 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on Trip Advisor of your recent stay with us. I was happy to read that you enjoyed our wonderful location, within walking distance to so many venues. I apologize that the room you were booked into was not acceptable but am happy that Alex was able to help get you a room that was more suitable. I am happy that you were able to enjoy our Veranda Restaurant with its wonderful food and vista. I will certainly pass along your wonderful comments regarding the staff. Thank you for your feedback regarding breakfast. Your comments are valuable to us in order to keep improving our service to our guests. I will be forwarding your comments to our Food & Beverage Manager. 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. Thank you again. We look forward to welcoming you back again soon.

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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