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“Great location, amazing service” 5 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   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #17 of 57 hotels in Victoria
GreenLeadersGold level
Edmonton
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
103 helpful votes 103 helpful votes
“Great location, amazing service”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2009

This was my first trip with baby and the staff from the front desk to the restaurants, spa and cleaning staff all did their best to ensure that my entire family was well cared for during our stay.

You can't beat the location being right on the harbour and close to many of Victoria's great attractions.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 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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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
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Death Valley National Park, California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2009

My senior parents had not been to Victoria BC since the 1970's, so we booked this trip with that in mind. Staying at The Empress is something my family always meant to experience. My parents were very impressed, and the staff spoiled us rotten. The rooms are dated but charming, small but well appointed. We had two rooms in the original wing of the hotel, upper floor, with a view of the Royal Museum. The beds were soft and comfortable. Service is key at this hotel. We had breakfast in-room one morning and our food delivered quickly and at proper temperatures. The Bengal Lounge was a fun stop for drinks and appetizers. Front desk were able to obtain dinner reservations for us both nights without any trouble. Everything we had booked was within walking distance, even for my elderly parents. This is a trip none of us will ever forget.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Vancouver, BC
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2009

My husband and my 12 year old daughter went to the Empress at the end of August.
I make my reservation directly on the hotels web site -www.fairmont.com and they give you choices- I usually choose the "Gold" level- We LOVE their lounge and you have drinks & snacks, games, newspapers, ect. and I like the option to give the first nights deposit for a better price (Thanks!) When checking in- tell them what's important to you-
Is it a fireplace? a more Historical character room? a shorter walk? a better view? And if you are checking into a gold room and the 2nd floor check in - step into the gold lounge and have a seat while they are doing their job- No need to stare at them while they are trying their best. Many thanks to "Dillon" for welcoming us again to my Empress.

The Smart Family

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Richmond, VA
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2009

Have been given and read very mixed reviews so was cautious. But the room was lovely, faced a back street but that made it quiet and who stayed in the room with so much to do anyway. The bed was super comfortable, room small but okay, bathroom small but nice. As in most hotels the number of front desk staff seems cut back, but once you got to the desk they were very helpful. Jennifer helped us on several occasions and always had great suggestions. Tea was very overpriced, but you really do have to do it once. Victoria is a great city and this is a great location.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Arizona
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2009

My family and I stayed at the Fairmont Empress recently. I am a teenager, and therefore, I noticed a lot about the hotel. It's very nice, but very old.
First, many of the dining rooms seemed off limits and there was only one casual eating area, which was in the front of the hotel. The rest of the rooms required coat and tie, or were very restrictive. Second, everything just seems a little tired. Not shabby, broken, or nasty, just tired. Third, there was a CONSTANT stream of tourists that sorounded the building. At times there were a hundred people snapping pictures. It was slightly annoying because I felt like I was staying at some big tourist destination.
However, there were many good things about the hotel too! My family stayed in a suite (two rooms). The gold level was AMAZING! There was great food, great views, and not too crowded. The concierge was helpful and friendly, and were there anytime we needed something! The sunsets are incredible, the room was really nice, and overall we felt welcome. This is a great hotel to stay in, although i don't recommend taking small children here. This seemed more of a formal hotel.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Oxford, England
Top Contributor
174 reviews 174 reviews
128 hotel reviews
Reviews in 137 cities Reviews in 137 cities
728 helpful votes 728 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2009

It might seem a little harsh to compare The Empress to a venerable and somewhat capricious elderly aunt of a certain pedigree but on a summer’s day the absence of air conditioning does remind one that this property is from another age. The labyrinthine corridors require, if not satellite navigation (far too modern for the Empress) certainly a map-and-compass to navigate; for example, the trek from the main lifts to our room involved six turns down five long corridors. All-in-all if you come to The Empress you do so on its terms, not yours.

Be in no doubt that The Empress is the place to stay. All of Victoria seems to radiate from The Empress with the harbour in front (the departure point for ferries to several points in America as well as the astonishingly frequent seaplanes to Vancouver), Victoria’s main shopping area to one side of the Empress and the BC Museum & Government Buildings on the other side. The main coach station is directly behind the hotel, providing ridiculously easy transfers to Vancouver and Vancouver Airport. There are numerous firms offering to take you to the must-see Butchart Gardens by every form of land, sea and air transport imaginable but the best, cheapest and least publicised option is the number 75 municipal bus from a stop directly behind The Empress.

Our Gold room was adequately spacious and stylishly furnished in a pleasingly dated way, with an adequate (if chunky) old-style television and an adequate (if not blistering) Ethernet Internet connection. The absence of net curtains from the windows was a bit surprising, although some were installed when we queried this – after two days of asking. A hint of quality is indicated by the presence of a simple fridge instead of the loathsome mini-bar; something that some other Fairmont properties (for example, the Fairmont Vancouver) have yet to learn. The Gold lounge on the second floor is located in the corner of the hotel affording views across the harbour and towards the Parliament buildings.

The Empress restaurant is a dark, vaguely menacing place with hammer-head beams and cumbersome furniture. Presumably this is what someone thinks a Scottish baronial hall should look like. In fact, they only look like this in Harry Potter films and suchlike. In this context, the enormous modern wine cooler the size & shape of a cathedral organ that dominates the entrance to the restaurant looks completely out of place. The service is appropriately formal and the food good if a little unimaginative.

If the concessions demanded by the venerable and slightly capricious Empress are too much you could stay in Marriott directly behind The Empress; all shiny new and high-tech, and a fair bit cheaper, too. But that would not be the same, would it? Good as it is, the Marriott – and everywhere else in Victoria – lacks that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that sets the Empress apart. It really is one-of-a-kind.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southern California
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2009

My sister and I stayed at the Empress for 4 nights last week. Our standard room did not have a view, but was very large, about 400 sq. feet. It was quiet at night so we could sleep with the windows open. We were upgraded to a deluxe room the last 2 nights and the only difference was that it was a harbor view---and a bit noisier at night. My sister treated to the lovely high tea ($57.50 p/p plus tip). I am glad to have experienced it, but I think it was a bit too much $$$. Other hotels have high tea at perhaps cheaper. We took the Grayline hop on hop off which was great for 2 days---

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
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
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
#13 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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