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“Excellent staff in very old hotel” 4 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 58 Hotels in Victoria
GreenLeadersGold level
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Excellent staff in very old hotel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

We generally skip The Empress when we go to Victoria due to the high cost and many great, more affordable options in the same area of the city. The location is obviously excellent, being on the Harbour and within a 2 minute walk of shops, museums etc. But there are many really good options that cost a lot less. However, last year my daughter was doing a history project on this hotel for school so we booked in for two nights to experience it first hand.

The space is majestic and incredibly well maintained for it's guests. The rooms are old and small by today's hotel standards but offer the charm of yesteryear! The staff were very professional and welcoming at every turn. We asked the concierge for a bit of a tour to help with my daughter's project and he connected us with a hotel manager who spent nearly an hour with us offering many tidbits on the hotel's history and offering interesting stories about past guests and hotel folklore! Wow! In the basement there is a hotel archives that is accessible to all but I'll bet many never discover. It was so interesting!

Food was excellent - we ordered room service one night which was top notch and we also enjoyed Afternoon Tea that, while very pricey, was very good. I'd likely not spend that amount again for afternoon tea, but the views and service were excellent and food was more than we could possibly eat. I'd see this as a special treat rather than something to enjoy each visit.

Only complaint is that parking on site is limited and allows no vehicles higher than about 6 feet. So we had to have our car valet parked in another lot a couple of blocks away and wait for it to come to us each time we needed it. I wasn't sure if our car was watched overnight but I assume not. And, having to have our car brought up necessitated us offering tips each time we went out which we had not expected. Still, a small detail for a great weekend.

Room Tip: Request a view of the Harbour, if possible.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
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2,172 reviews from our community

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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 (618)
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English first
Arlington, Virginia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2014

My wife and I stayed at this hotel at the end of a cross Canada railway trip, which ended with us taking the Rocky Mountaineer, a two day train trip which is just mind blowing. The Fairmont Express after such a mind blowing train trip was just what we needed. Our room was one if the nicest we ever stayed in. The restaurant was excellent. The English style boutiques in the hotel were wonderful. The highlight of a stay at the Fairmont is probably high tea which is served in the old fashioned English style, making you feel like you are having tea with the Queen herself...We enjoyed our stay at the Fairmont Empress and would be happy to return their anytime...

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
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FairmontEmpress1908, General Manager at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, March 13, 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Arlington,

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 were able to enjoy our Afternoon Tea experience. An interesting fact is that The Fairmont Empress serves afternoon tea to more guests than most hotels in London. During the summer, up to 1,000 people each day enjoy this elegant English ritual. I hope 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
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Westminster, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2014

We choose to stay at The Fairmont Empress every time we go over to Victoria. They are supremely pet friendly and welcome our Aussie Shepherd with open arms. Beautiful, historic hotel!! We took part in the High Tea this last visit and it was perfection. The staff is always super friendly and helpful. And it helps that they make a big fuss over our pup!! Wouldn't want to stay anywhere else in Victoria!!

Room Tip: We love to ask for a harbour view so we can see the Parliament Buildings lit up at night and watch a...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 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
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FairmontEmpress1908, General Manager at The Fairmont Empress, responded to this review, March 13, 2014
Dear Valued Guest from New Westminster,

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, as well as your Aussie Shepherd, with the service that The Fairmont Empress is so well known for. It is wonderful to hear that our staff were extremely helpful and able to assist you throughout your stay. I was happy to read that you were able to enjoy our wonderful Afternoon Tea experience. 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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San Antonio, Texas
Top Contributor
315 reviews 315 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
154 helpful votes 154 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

We enjoyed our stay at this historic hotel on the waterfront of Victoria on Vancouver Island BC. The exterior is ivy-covered and there is a lot of wood panelling indoors. Our room was comfortable; not exceptional. We did not eat meals here, but did have the famous Empress Tea and also visited the Bengal Lounge for a drink and snacks. Both were fun. There is a great trail for running just across the street and along the waterfront. Walking distance to main shopping area and many restaurants.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whistler, Canada
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

Nice weekend at The Empress, public rooms were lovely, location awesome, breakfast was filling, service was good. Room small but well equipped, bed - not what we're use to in a Fairmont Hotel - very small!! Room was harbour facing and was noisy at night with outside noise and inside. I know it's an old hotel however I knew the names of the neighbours because of poor sound proofing. There was also a convention on and it appeared the attendees liked to party - thank goodness I had ear plugs!!

Room Tip: Ensure you confirm your bed size - deluxe rooms are a small queen!!
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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 13, 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Whistler,

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 enjoyed our wonderful location. I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy a city tour of Victoria and see all that our city has to offer. I was however sorry to hear that your stay was not as memorable as we would like due to the fact that you found your room too small. We are aways very happy to move you into a room that is more comfortable, so please do not hestitate to ask in the future. I apologize also that your evening was disrupted due to outside noise. Thank you again for sharing the feedback. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Fairmont Empress when your travels next bring you to Victoria.

Kind regards,

Don Fennerty
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
British Columbia, Canada
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2014

Had a wonderful stay in the hotel. After growing up in Victoria, it was fun to return and stay at the Empress as a treat. I asked for a room overlooking the harbour and was not disappointed. The location cannot be more perfect, and our room was exquisite with a fabulous view and lovely furnishings (the beds were amazing), but there are areas of the hotel that need to be refreshed. The hotel is 100 years old so some signs of age are to be expected, but they need to spend a little money on the back hallways and the hallways leading down to the parking area to spruce it up. Since the Fairmont company took it over, they have made it a little too "corporate" with putting company heads pictures up in the hallways - like we care about recent people when the hotel has such a great local history? We chose not to dine at the hotel because the prices in the restaurant were unreasonable for the average person, and I rented a movie for the kids before bed and after dropping a large sum of money on the room, being charged $17 for a 90 minute movie rental was a bit much. The staff were cheerful and professional. Overall, it is a lovely old lady and it's lovely to stay there.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Top Contributor
62 reviews 62 reviews
57 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2014

Good location, but any positives of this hotel are overshadowed by the cons.

Pros:
-Location cannot be beat, right in the cente of Victoria and close to the main attractions. It is by far the best located hotel in the city.
-Old world charm

Cons:
-The hotel is old and worn out. Some things have been upgraded recently but much of the hardware and furniture inside and outside the rooms is worn out. The floors creak everywhere you step. The hardware in the bathroom did not work as it should.
-On a Saturday night there was a wedding reception taking place, the noise was over the top and I could not sleep until around 1am, I had important meetings the next morning. The front desk manager offered me a free breakfast which I thought was less than adequate. The noise from guests walking up and down the hotel is disturbing and woke me up on numerous occasions.
-The food is genrally ok but breakfast is weak.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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 6, 2014
Dear Valued Guest from Toronto,

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. We strive to provide the best experience and customer service that guests have come to expect of Fairmont Hotels. I was happy to read that you enjoyed our location and hope that you had a chance to enjoy a city tour of Victoria and see all that our city has to offer. I apologize that you found your room to be inadequate, and I will be personally following up with our leadership team about the furniture comments. We are always very happy to move you into a room that is more comfortable. Please do not hestitate to ask in the future. I would be happy to discuss your stay further if you wish. Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback, and I sincerely hope we will be able to welcome you back again in the future.

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

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 Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Victoria
#8 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#13 Romantic Hotel in Victoria
#13 Business 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

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