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“Modern hotel with old fashioned principles”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #20 of 49 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Castle Douglas, Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
78 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Modern hotel with old fashioned principles”
Reviewed 28 August 2014

The imposing building has great views over the busy harbour area. Normally a concierge sometimes two are situated outside the main entrance to meet, greet and offer advice. The hotel restaurants prices are on a par with the restaurants around. Try the curry restaurants buffet for great value there was also live music the night we ate there. A must is a drink on the balcony overlooking the harbour just relax and watch the world go by. Our room was clean and well appointed and was large with a large bathroom. Only downside was having to pay for wifi. It is close the parliament which is well worth a tour. The open top tour buses leave from the road just in front of the hotel.

Room Tip: Get a room overlooking the harbour
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Duncan G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (963)
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English first
Vancouver
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2014

Stayed for seven nights with my family (there were four of us) while I attended a convention.

First the good:
- Location is perfect.
- Afternoon tea was memorable (just don't fall for ordering the "lovely" special teas your server tells you about which are $10/pot whereas the price of tea is included if you choose one off the menu).
- Free bicycles available to guests, includes helmet
- Green initiatives, your choice to re-use linens and towels recycling, etc.
- Fairmont President's Club gives you free WiFi and local phone calls
- Very friendly staff, I was never treated disrespectfully.

And now the not so good
The hotel felt weary and tired, a stark contrast from the Fairmont Olympic Seattle where we stayed and were wowed in March.
- Public spaces: hall carpets grayed where people walk, marks on the walls. Brass railings and doors were dull, glass on many public tables is cloudy underneath, badly in need of cleaning.
- Our tiny room: the arms of the stuffed chairs were torn, bathroom curtain torn, bathtub grout around tiles stained, plastic lined tub, plastic shower curtain hooks, glass over tables and desk cloudy underneath and often didn't get cleaned.
-There was no available plug near the bed, called for an extension cord for my CPAP machine, they didn't get it until the third night (three calls).
- cream wasn't replenished in the fridge, had to call three times to get it refilled, two mornings without cream.
- fridge stopped working overnight and spoiled some food we had stored there. Replacement fridge didn't fit in the cabinet so took up the sparse space in our room
- There were four people in our room, and many days, there were only three facecloths, or towels, we only got three bathrobes, one roll of toilet paper. I got tired of calling for everything that was missing.
- Women's changerooms in pool/recreation area: just towels and a blow dryer. In the men's, my son found razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail files, cotton balls, Q-tips. Why weren’t these in the women's change room? Seattle was luxury, included fruit-infused ice water, only a lukewarm water fountain here.

Bottom line: The room felt like a cheap motel. Don’t let them rest on their laurels, relying on the reputation of a historic and storied landmark to keep the rooms filled. This hotel does not live up to the Fairmont brand. If you need a place to stay in Victoria, give the Fairmont Empress a pass until they clean up their act.

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

Helpful?
7 Thank Theresa 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, 28 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Vancouver,

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I sincerely apologize that your family stay with us 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 regarding your room, and the ladies changeroom in the pool area. I shall also be speaking with our Executive Housekeeper regarding the insufficient towels and amenities in your room each day. We are currently working with our new owners regarding room renovations and air conditioning in the near future which is very exciting. Thank you again for sharing the feedback whcih is very valuable to us. I would be happy to discuss your stay further should you wish, so that we may one day welcome you back to The Fairmont Empress.

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
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 25 August 2014 via mobile

Stayed at the Fairmont in August 2013. Large hotel worth exploring. Make sure to have High Tea. If you like Indian food you MUST eat at Bengal Lounge. Concierge was very helpful in all respects from dinner reservations to the Adrena zip line. Try for room in main building.

Stayed September 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank maryANDlarry1
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, 28 August 2014
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 our Afternoon Tea Experience and our curry in The Bengal Lounge. I was also pleased to read about the helpfulness of our concierge. 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
Regina, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2014

Hotels outdoor view and appearance is beautiful. Tea time was lovely and public areas were fitting but rooms are very dated and not modern enough to compensate price per night. Some rough looking finishings and hallways dark and closed in feeling.

Room Tip: Rooms are somewhat dated, beautiful but don't look for modern.
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Green Features: I think this hotel was average in their practices.
  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sandy R
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, 25 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Regina,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on Trip Advisor of your recent stay with us. I was pleased to read that you enjoyed our outdoor appearance. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful hardworking team of gardeners who keep our grounds in pristine condtion. I was happy that you experienced our Afternoon Tea experience. During the centennial restoration in 2008, the hotel's original Tea Lobby floor was replaced and the wood of the original floor was transformed into delicate Afternoon Tea tables which are the tables used in the tea lobby today - one may say you are actually "eating off the floor"! Thank you also for your feedback which is valuable for us in order to move forward with improving our service and product. We are currently working with our new owners on plans for renovations in the near future which is very exciting. 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
Edmonton, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 August 2014

We stayed at this hotel for one night in the fall of 2013. Of course the hotel is iconic and the location is fantastic. I enjoy the history of the hotel and the region so it was nice to tell our kids we stayed at the Empress. Staff were efficient but not overly friendly. The room was very small and had few electrical outlets to use. Lighting was also sparse. The TV service was basic. Bed was nice, There was no view. You have to pay dearly for the opportunity to see anything good outside. Speaking of price, the cost was significant even for their basic room. There are hotels that are worth the price within a couple of blocks of the Empress which provide better bang for the buck

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank hospitalcop
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, 25 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Edmonton,

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I was pleased to read that you enjoyed our wonderful location and history. 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. Thank you for your feedback regarding your room which we value. We are very excited that we have started working with our new owners on plans for room renovations as well as the implementation of air conditioning into our century old building. I hope that you had a chance to explore our beautiful city. Thank you again for taking the time to write and provide feedback. We would sincerely love to welcome you back again to The Fairmont Empress when you next visit Victoria.

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
Marietta, Ga
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 August 2014

We have travelled alot over our 43 years of marraige but our stay at the Empress was by far the best experience we have ever had. Mistakes were made but the warm Empress personnel always corrected in the best way possible. It is well worth the small increase to book a Gold room; access to personal concierge and lovely breakfast daily; also nice tea and later hors d'ouvers. We were pampered. Our windows looked out over the beautiful harbor. The hotel is located within walking distance to most everything. This is a grand old property with architectural history. We could easily have stayed for weeks. We will return.

Room Tip: Worth the splurge to go Gold & also get a view of the harbor. The suite was very roomy, cool &am...
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Green Features: No air conditioning but the ceilings are high and have fans. The windows open to cool breezes.
  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank 5sandyhook
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, 25 August 2014
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 we were able to provide you with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. Our team on the Gold floor are outstanding and I am so pleased that you had such a wonderful experience. Our central location is wonderful as it is within walking distance to so many venues and attractions. I hope that you had the opportunity to enjoy a city tour of Victoria and 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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
86 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 August 2014

PROS: A spectacle to look at, staff very proper and service considered, classic decor
CONS: Hot room, insufficient air-con, shower-over-bath like a trickle of water, overly expensive

The Fairmont Empress is the go-to jewel in Victoria. On approach this giant ivy-clad building is beautiful, even more so when wandering around its garden areas. I recommend that anyone should visit because from the exterior it is a powerful spectacle - they even do tours for around $13 (CAD).
However, to stay here is a different experience that, for the money, feels like its stuck in the past - and not always in a good way. A building that opened in 1908 isn’t necessarily going to have all the mod cons, but it could given it’s described as a “luxury hotel”.
Staff were very proper and excellent in their delivery, but that can’t veil the issues with the rooms. Small, hot and stuffy, with insufficient air-con and a noisy over-bed ceiling fan that’s a necessity to keep cool (in the summer anyway). It reminded me of The National in Cuba - another spectacular hotel that’s just so-so to stay in and not worth the money.
The bathroom at the Empress was tiny, and the over-the-bath shower was akin to a trickle of water. Exiting the shower and you’d be lucky to not end up standing on the toilet which more or less touches the bath. No proper extraction to be found either.
One evening we popped the TV on for a bit of background news, but Fairmont still operates one of those decades-old hotel systems where everything costs to rent and there’s no normal TV/news. Admittedly anyone staying here to watch TV needs to reassess what they’re doing, because there’s a whole waterfront of loveliness to soak up in the local area, but it made me laugh and, in a way, is representative of the overall experience at the Empress.
The hotel might score higher if not for the price which, at somewhere near to £190 a night (around $315 USD / $346 CAD) at the time of writing, is horribly overpriced in my opinion.
Go there for a drink/afternoon tea in the classic decor of the lobby-level rooms. But you don’t need to pay to stay there as a resident for that.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank mmxbreaks
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, 25 August 2014
Dear Valued Guest from London,

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. I was pleased however to hear that we were able to provide you with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. We are excited to announce that we are currently working with our new owners on plans to retrofit our century old building with air conditioning, as well as renovations to our room product. Thank you again for taking the time to write a review. We hope that we will be able to welcome you back again 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
#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):
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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