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“all the reviews here are correct, the Empress isn't worth it” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Fairmont Empress

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Calgary, Alberta
Level Contributor
65 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“all the reviews here are correct, the Empress isn't worth it”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2010

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.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank DHSS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FairmontEmpress, Administrative Assistant at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, 11 July 2010
Thank you very much for taking the time to document your experience at The Fairmont Empress during the Canada Day celebrations.

On behalf of the entire team at the hotel I would certainly like to apologize for your poor greeting and experiences in the Bengal Lounge and on the Veranda. Even though the Bengal Lounge was hosting a Social Media Day event for 100 guests it certainly does not excuse the poorly engaging service that you experienced. I would like to assure you these experiences certainly are not indicative of the fine level of personalized service we are striving for.

In addition I am personally following up with my Empress Room team to find out what may have occurred with your subpar experience.

On a more positive note I do certainly thank you for the outstanding comments about our Willow Stream Spa as they certainly reinforce the recent Top Victoria Spa Ranking 2010 by the readers of Black Press publications and # 5 Spa in all of Canada 2010 as ranked by Conde Nast.
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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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l0ve2sh0p4me
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2010

Save your money and stay some where more updated. This place is way over priced. Sure it's a great hotel to look at from the outside, but the rooms are terrible, the service has been ridiculous and it costs way too much money to stay here.
The walls are paper thin, you can hear everyone while they walk down the hall, so don't plan on getting a good night sleep.
There are plenty of nicer, newer hotels to stay at, and while you are visiting Victoria, stop by for a look at the Empress, that's all you need from this hotel.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled on business
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank l0ve2sh0p4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kamuela, hawaii
Level Contributor
19 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 May 2010

My wife has desired to take tea at the Empress for many years, so we did. Though I had noted the mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, I knew she wanted the experience. Our reservations were made by our innkeepers, so not able to comment. However, there was a steady flow of customers...no shortage of business.

The room is nice. Service staff friendly and competent.

Food...unremarkable, considering the price. It was not bad, however at CAN $58 per person, not good. We've had better food at "mom & pop" B&Bs. Typical petit four and tea sandwiches, nothing memorable for sure.

Which brings me to the price. Obviously business is good, I'm sure the hotel sees the tea service as a good source of revenue. However, with tip and tax $130+ is not cheap in view of the quality of food.

We spend a fair amount on dining, so I don't mind a high priced meal. However, the tea service at the Empress is not worth the expense. Even my wife, who is much less price sensitive than I am was taken back by the ticket. Would select one of the other tea opportunities in Victoria. The tea at Butchart Gardens is half the price of the Empress.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank georgedeloup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FairmontEmpress, Administrative Assistant, Operations at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, 8 June 2010
Thank you for visiting The Fairmont Empress and enjoying Afternoon Tea with us. We certainly regret your feelings that the price of Afternoon Tea did not reflect your dining experience. Our goal is to provide friendly & competent service in a unique, one of a kind setting complemented by our wonderful selection of sandwiches, scones and desserts, all made in-house and served on Wedgwood bone china accompanied by live piano music.

We strive to turn moments into memories for our guests while they enjoy one of Victoria’s grandest traditions in our historical Tea Lobby. We are truly apologetic that you felt the expense was not worth the experience.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver
Level Contributor
55 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 223 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 May 2010

This weekend was the third time we stayed at the Fairmont Empress. My husband, myself and my dog all enjoyed our stay!

We booked the hotel as part of the Fairmont President's club monthly great rates promotion. We were very happy to learn that our basic room had been upgraded to a gorgeous harbourview room on the 7th floor (benefits of choosing one or two hotel groups and sticking with them).

Note that while we appreciate the old-world charm of the Empress' design, it is not the style we typically seek in hotel decor, however, the service and location make this hotel worthwhile.

Recommendations -
- the hotel is old and grand. if you're looking for something funky, go elsewhere.
- because the hotel is old, the walls are thin. be prepared for this or ask for a room at the end of the hall.
- because the fairmont overlooks the ocean, dress warmly. the breeze cam be chilly at times--even in summer.
- if you have a chance, try the Empress' Afternoon High-Tea --it's a tradition for which they are known well and have practically perfected
- consider a pre or post-dinner drink at the Bengal Lounge (decorated with an African Lodge Feel) as you sway to the nightly music
- valet + self-park are $29/daily. if you are there on the weekend, try to park beside the parliament buildings (in front of the royal scott hotel) for FREE
- there is a grocery store a 15-min walk from the Empress in case you want to get some munchies during your stay
- each room has a small fridge which you can use

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank tripstyler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
brighton
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2010

we stayed here for one night, we were given a room opersite the kitchen fans that was noisy all night, we were kindly supplied ear plugs! The room was shabby, chairs that stank of god knows what dog i think, it maybe the oldest hotel in Victoria with lots of History, but it really needs redecorating , just go for a drink and a look do not stay, it is not worth the money.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank ladygaga55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2010

Was dying to experience afternoon tea, and The Empress didn't disappoint. The server was very friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. The finger sandwiches were great, as were the scones and desserts, and they offered refills on all of it, so it was quite a meal. The dining room was gorgeous. It was pricey, but it was a fine experience and worth it. The let us take leftovers and gave us tea bags to go.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank EMOESQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Huntington Beach, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 May 2010

Our experience at the Fairmont Empress fell short of our modest expectations. Be sure to ask whether they are checking you in next to a dog on the 1st floor. Especially if you have allergies. They don't have the kind courtesy to tell you beforehand. My wife and I found out by being woken up in the night from incessant barking.

Also their toilets in their newly renovated rooms were noisy and leaked all night long. Every flush was a horrible experience. The water would splash up and would hardly refill the bowl. Amazingly, when I informed the front desk manager, Julet, she informed me that all of the rooms that she checked were the same.

After I inquired about the TV Internet service offered as one of a handful of choices on their onscreen guest services menu, I was told that the service was turned off months ago. After discussing the issue with the hotel, I directed the management staff to simply call whoever manages their onscreen guest services menu. They did and had the dead link removed from all 470+ rooms within five minutes.

Finally, when we checked out, we stood outside next to our car for over 10 minutes. The doorman was no where to be seen. After watching my wife suffer in the cold, I had to retrieve my keys myself from the doorman's station drawer.

The hotel even insisted on my contact information during my vacation and assured us their Director of Operations, Edward [-] would call us the next business day. He never did.

Overall, our experience was very poor. I would not recommend the Empress in Victoria to my friends annd family.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank mrclooney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
FairmontEmpress, Administrative Assistant, Operations at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, 10 May 2010
We are truly sorry for the poor stay that was experienced by this guest. We are grateful for their comments which are shared and used as a constructive coaching opportunity with our teams.
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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