My wife and I stayed at the Fairmont Empress for the Canada day long weekend, July 1st. We had visited Victoria the year before on Canada day and wanted a first class room overlooking the harbor and the fireworks and the Empress seemed like a great choice. We are Fairmont President Club members and we've stayed at a number of Fairmont hotels over the years. So much so that we get "comped" room upgrades, dinner certificates etc. We only get 1 room upgrade per year and we used it at the Empress to get a great room overlooking the harbor. I'm VERY sorry that we used it at this hotel.
Positives: the hotel is very beautiful and it is all about location, it is right on the harbor and has fantastic views of everything. The hotel itself is well appointed, the decor is period specific and grounds and the hotel are all in good condition. We did a spa day and were very pleasantly surprised with how great their spa was. The spa was the highlight of our stay and is the exception in this review. The staff at the spa (who are Willow Spa staff and only affiliated with the Fairmont chain) were all fantastic. The valet service was good and timely.
Negatives: Like alot of other reviewers we had problems with the staff. The management here needs to review the staff situation. We were treated quite rudely on a number of occasions. E.g. The first night we were there we wanted to sample one of the restaurants in the hotel. We had reservations in their "fancy" Empress dining room for the following night so instead we wanted to try either the veranda or their lounge or afternoon tea. Almost unbelievably we were "shooed" away quite rudely from every place we went. The worst was at the Bengal Lounge. We asked to be seated and we were told we'd have to wait (even though you could see that the place was nearly half empty). When asked how long a wait, the guy first said 20 mins, then 2 second later it was 30 minutes, then he blurted out that a "media event" was occuring and that we should just go! If there was a media event then he could've handled that alot better. We went to the veranda and same thing... "shooed" off. Eventually... fuming mad... we had to walk 3 blocks into downtown Victoria to a fine scottish pub, the Bard and Banker. Now... I go to Tripadvisor alot and I always read this kind of reviews with a 'grain of salt'... trust me... this is exactly what happened. We paid over $400/night for our room and we'll never EVER return to the Empress. The next night we had dinner at the Empress Room and it was sub-par. Considering that this is their highlight dinner service venue it was no better than any other restaurant (I compare it to the Banffshire club at the Banff Springs, now THERE is a great restaurant).
And to top it off... I got sick with bronchitis after 1 night in our room, dunno if it was related but the moment I got home, I got better. Being a Presidents Club member I'll get to review this hotel with JD Powers... and I'm goanna rip them a new one.
Save your money, save yourself the headache... stay at the Delta nearby... it gets better reviews.
- 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