Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
The Empress Victoria B.C.
Located on the gorgeous waterfront in downtown Victoria B.C. The scenic Fairmont Empress hotel has long been a favored destination for business travelers, conferences and vacationers to this scenic city.
Following up on my visit of last Fall, I found the Hotel and the city of Victoria to be even more charming in the summer. I have stayed at many of the top hotels the world has to offer, but I enjoyed the old world charm of the hotel as well as the modern conveniences it offered. The check in went very smoothly and the staff was very helpful without being snobby as is often the case in hotels of high standing. The counter staff was first-rate and was very helpful in showing me some locations on the map that I had asked about as well as confirming our bus trip to Butchart Gardens. Our room was not ready due to an early arrival from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper but the staff had a day room available to us at no charge that allowed us to freshen up and change from our trip for a day on the city.
Upon arriving at our regular room, I found it to be a comfortable and pleasant room with a nice view of the inner harbor. There living area contained a bed, entertainment center, couch, table, chairs, and desk were all located within the living area with the bathroom and ample closets nearby. The Gold Level of the hotel does offer more spacious and luxurious rooms, but for many, I am sure the rooms will be more than enough for most travelers.
We returned to the hotel after the fantastic trip to the botanical Butchart Gardens and embarked on a few hours of shopping in the downtown area. Shopping in Victoria is always a delight and the U.S. Dollar allows for some great values if you shop around. I found AB Sound to be a fantastic value for books, music, and DVDs, as some sets were $25-$50.00 lower than in the states and new CD’s could be found on sale at prices below the standard rates in America. Of course there was the required visit to the Old English Candy Shoppe where all manner of candy, treats, and food items from England are available and will delight shoppers of all ages. That evening we took a water taxi to Fishermans Wharf for a fish and chip dinner at Barb’s which is long regarding as the best in all of Victoria. The food lived up to the billing as was fantastic. The evening was completed by a walk along the harbor with live street entertainment and a visit to the spa facilities that the hotel offers. We enjoyed a swim in an atrium style area that also contained a hot tub that was overlooked by a weight room.
Sunday morning was a casual day as we set out to do some more shopping and dining. The Empress stepped up to the plate once again by providing a free porter service where we could leave our bags during the day while we waited for the clipper home in the evening. This was such a huge benefit to us as we did not have to lug our baggage all over town while we waited and it was nice to be able to check items into storage as we shopped during the day.
Checkout was like everything else, very easy and relaxed and was as friendly and efficient as everything that I experienced during my stay at the Empress. A short bike taxi trip down to the clipper terminal was prompt and pleasant and the driver informed us of all manner of information on the city while we relaxed with our bags in the back cab. The hotel is located in easy walking distance from the numerous shops, restaurants, theaters and attractions of the downtown and waterfront areas. The Empress is a rare mix these days, a full-service hotel, that is ideal for business, yet is perfect for weekend getaways where you can do things at your own pace with the knowledge that the helpful staff and abundant services are there when you need it. Top marks all around.