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“A typical Fairmont hotel, classic rooms and decor 3.5/5” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The Fairmont Empress

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The Fairmont Empress
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   721 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 1W5, Canada   |  
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Ranked #17 of 57 hotels in Victoria
GreenLeadersGold level
Top Contributor
267 reviews 267 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
165 helpful votes 165 helpful votes
“A typical Fairmont hotel, classic rooms and decor 3.5/5”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013

I came here for a recent conference. I have stayed at Fairmonts many times in the last 15 years, and it was as familiar as the other Fairmonts across the country, which is a good and bad thing. The Fairmonts are like McDonald’s when I go overseas, it is consistent, always of high quality, and there are many things that are “the same”. It is comfortable to stay there. It is a picturesque hotel, with Elizabethan like rooms and decor, somewhat pricey dining and good conference facilities.

Dining: Beautiful Empress Dining Room and Tea Room. The dining in the Empress Tea room was delicious and I recommend the hash for breakfast. I was starving and it hit the spot. They were super fast and that was appreciated.
But, as the other Fairmonts, the cost of dining in the Tea room is too high. Breakfast for $35 is pricey. The eggs Benedict were pretty standard.

Conference facilities: were good, but the wireless internet was a little spotty. The conference area was nice, well lit and in a glassed off kind of area.

Rooms and Hotel: Note that the one size fits all robes in the room are too small and would only fit a tiny Asian female or a tween. I am neither, and they need to get a large or extra large for some guests, so you don’t give someone a peep show if you go outside the room. The window in the bathroom had no curtain, and of course, they had workmen on scaffolding outside renovating – Murphy’s Law. After calling twice for someone to come and put a filmy curtain up, I could use the bathroom – with the lights off so people can’t see in. The kettle given to boil water is too large to fill in the sink so must be filled using the bathtub. Otherwise, the room was standard, with safe, ample closet space, a HUGE TV and a comfortable bed. They removed the bar fridge (no mini-bar, but no fridge either, if I wanted to use it).

Overall, a typical Fairmont experience, but there are better ones across the country.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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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, March 7, 2013
Dear Valued Guest,
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I was very pleased to read your comments on our dining and that you enjoyed your breakfast in The Empress Dining Room. We have great chefs who are very passionate about the food they produce. I have shared your comments about the room, specifically the bathroom, with our Executive Housekeeper. We certainly do not wish for our guests to have to use the bathroom in the dark due to workmen outside or to feel uncomfortable in the robes provided. Your comments about the bathroom are very much appreciated and will be addressed. I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy our city and all it 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. I would be happy to discuss your stay further should you wish. Kind regards, Don Fennerty.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (459)
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English first
Calgary, Canada
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

Hard to believe the rank here on Tripadvisor. Yes it may not be a typical large chain mid budget hotel with no surprises (seen many ranked higher), but it is another historical Fairmont, should be in the top 3.

We've stayed at several of these old Fairmont's across Canada including Banff, Calgary, and Jasper....all are very similar, BUT this one is a bit cheaper, and deals can be found. We were here for a conference again for 3 nights.

Pros: We were in room 828, top floor in one of the towers, basically within the roof. Like many rooms in these historical buildings, the room was quirky...bathroom was huge...with a window looking over the harbour, this was our main view. We had a second window on the side with a crappy view, including scaffolding. The coffee was good, huge bed, big room, and overall had a great Victorian feel.
The location....can't be beat.....period! People actually come to the hotel as part of the attractions. The Internet was super fast, one thing that usually drives me nuts in most other hotels is slow wireless lol. The lounge here is cozy and dark, with large high back chairs, great for a few tasty expensive cocktails. We had a small dog and the staff received it well, offering her a treat here and there.

Negatives: There are a few things they need a bit of work on. Our room service meal came without napkins....and with wings, its a must! It also took forever for the meal to come. I'm not a fan with needing to use several elevators to get to a room, but I guess it's expected in old buildings like this. The lighting in our room was very dim, the lamps were not sufficient. Parking is expensive..$30+\ day. We did afternoon tea time, not worth it if you don't have some sort of discount, interesting for us because we had a coupon;)

Overall, if you have the funds, and can upgrade, this is the place to be. The location can't be beat, and if your able to ignore the small things, the prestige and atmosphere will trump most others here in Victoria.

Room Tip: Go high, one elevator goes to floor 6, anything higher, you will need to take a second elevator.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013 via mobile

The hotel is right in town and within walking distance to the ferry terminal, food, and sights. The property is very well maintained, rooms are standard but were clean. The hotel itself is nice to walk around and have afternoon tea. We have stayed a few times and enjoy every time.

Small complaint: the hotel can convert currency and the prices were competitive and convenient. However, when we needed to convert the currency back into US dollars we were told it was one way. They were not clear when we checked in and I understand the reason but they could have been explained better upfront to avoid the confusion.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Clara, Ca
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

From a mile away we could see the Empress Hotel, you couldn't miss it, the most beautiful structure for miles. With it's location overlooking the harbor and right next to amazing restaurants and shopping I knew we were in for a great stay. The entire staff was amazing and friendly. Our room was fantastic. This place needs to be on everyones "Bucket List". Fantastic!!!

Room Tip: Ask for room from the third floor up...you will talk about the views every time you mention your vac...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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, March 7, 2013
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 you found our staff to be friendly and your room fantastic. I will be sharing your comments with our leadership team. We are always so happy to receive such great feedback. 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
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013 via mobile

The hotel is tired and in need of some refurb and cleaning, the dust on some of the pictures was months of build up, the chairs were stained and falling apart, to pay credit to this beautiful building some serious attention to detail needs to take place. As a Brit, afternoon tea was not the standard the British would expect, sandwiches were definitely not fresh, ther was a long hair on the plate of "fresh" strawberries which had shriveled leaves. The waiter had a soiled waistcoat and he poured hot water all over the table when trying to add this to the teapot. If you are trying to emulate a world class tradition, again attention to detail is a must. Hence great disappointment for a birthday treat and the cost is way too high for the standard of food and service provided.

Stayed February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Upon arrival in our room I found the bath mat dirty & a black hair on our white bed duvet. The room was very tired looking. The front desk had someone come and reclean the room right away. The bathroom was very small and the hot water in the shower took a good 5 minutes to get going - never did get very hot. Parking is $30 per night for valet or self park. We chose self park for the convenience. Not very convenient at you are at the mercy of the the Victoria Conference Centre parking attendants. We had to wait every time we tried to exit due to no one covering the parking attendant when they needed a bathroom/coffee break. We checked out at 5:45 am - I informed the front desk we needed to get our rental car out of the parkade - they informed me not a problem - it was......the parkade is not open early in the morning. We had to call the front desk to have someone come down and let us out. The parking attendant made it clear they do not work for the hotel & are not open until at least 6:30 am. Why the confusion at the front desk??
We booked into the Willowstream Spa & had amazing massages. The only problem was the change rooms needed to be better monitored. Both the mens and womens change rooms were low on towels in the lockers. Someone in the ladies steam room used a disposable razor and left it in the steam room. Very small shared lounge area to wait for your treatments. That said the treament was incredible and very relaxing.
The Bengal Lounge was very good. Excellent servers, good drinks and appys!
The concierge was most helpful with advising us in our travels. I love the location of the Empress. We love to walk and this enabled us to go on long walks with incredible views.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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, February 26, 2013
Dear Valued Guest from Calgary,
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I am sorry to hear of the service shortcomings you experienced during your stay. We strive to provide the best experience and customer service that guests have come to expect of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. From the comments you have shared I can see that we did not succeed in achieving our goal. I will personally be following up with our leadership team to ensure that these service shortcomings do not occur in the future. I was very pleased to read of your experience in The Bengal Lounge and will be sharing those comments with the Director of Food and Beverage. Thank you again for sharing the feedback; I would be happy to discuss your stay further should you wish. Kind regards, Don Fennerty
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Victoria, Canada
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

This hotel has it all! Fantastic views, fantastic staff, fantastic amenities, fantastic history, fantastic architecture! I love the Empress!! Eat here, stay here, talk to Any of the staff here, from store clerks, to wait staff, to housekeeping. Everyone is great, friendly and accommodating! I can't wait to stay there again!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about The Fairmont Empress

Address: 721 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 1W5, Canada
Phone Number:
Location: Canada > British Columbia > Vancouver Island > Victoria Capital Regional District > Victoria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center 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 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#11 Spa Hotel in Victoria
#12 Business Hotel in Victoria
#12 Romantic Hotel in Victoria
#18 Family Hotel in Victoria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fairmont Empress 4*
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

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