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“Stay where the Kings, Queens and Movie Stars have chosen to vacation over the last 100 years!” 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   |  
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Ranked #17 of 58 Hotels in Victoria
GreenLeadersGold level
Tempe, Arizona
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Stay where the Kings, Queens and Movie Stars have chosen to vacation over the last 100 years!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2010

This is a sure stop for anyone who enjoys sharing rooms with history. This 100+ year old hotel has a feeling of Old England with all the conveniences of todays amenities.
Covered in vines and proudly standing at the end of the harbor The Fairmont Empress
makes an old world, an Old English World statement. The staff was friendly and helpful and the hotel, despite it's age the hotel is immaculate. One relief is the short walk with luggage from the Ferry after the long journey over from Seattle. The Empress is surrounded by wonderful shopping and delicious eateries....don't miss Nautical Nellies and Milestones, which are within walking distance and boast moderately-priced great seafood. There are sooo many restaurants close by, that it is hard to choose.

We had a lovely standard room. Surprisingly the 10 foot ceiling gave the appearance of lofty spaciousness, even though the room was small. The very comfy King size bed was topped with lots of fluffly down pillows. Painted a light shade of yellow/green the walls were framed with white trim. One caution is that the windows open up and have no screens, so if you have small children I would exercise caution. My hot roller rolled out the bathroom window onto the grass far below and the gal one story up had a seagull come thru her bathroom window and take her cosmetic case. Luckly for her, the bag was a bit heavy and the pesty bird dropped it conveniently on the lawn. Hanging out the
window watching her bag till her husband retrived it, the young lady tenant was still being harassed by the persistent seagull. We all laughed and I was reminded of the
relaxed atmosphere that the hotel, although very upscale, created for their guests.

Be sure to have High Tea, as it is an age old tradition there and well worth it. Not one bit of bitterness in The Empress's special blend of world-wide teas. Ask for Marilyn. She's an adorable Tea waitress and her belly laugh is reminicent of a Dicken's character. It's worth the price and even my husband, who is not a tea drinker, was impressed. The Bengal Lounge is a great late spot for a night cap and the pool and hot tub are open
till one am.

The bathroom was clean and bright with tiny printed English Wallpaper. Robes,
blowdryer and even perfume samples waited to assist our toiletry. There was a coffee
service including wonderful teas and even a refrigerator in the nightstand. The room was quiet and well equiped with a large flat panel TV at the foot of the bed. The High Speed Internet on the desk was so easy to hook up to and had the necessary cable
was handy. Be sure to walk around the hotel and see historic interiors, all the age old restaurants and even the bright sun-lit conservatory. All are exquisitely decorated and loaded, I am sure, with a century of untold secrets.

Don't miss going to Butchart Gardens about 40 minutes away. Breathtaking and inspiring, it is by far the most beautiful garden I have ever visited. Be careful to
watch the times of the tours because starting in October, they only go out there twice a day. If it rains go anyway....the gardens provide clear umbrellas.

Two other tips....leave your sunglasses at home. And figure out your best Rain-Ready
Hair......but then that's why the gardens everywhere in Victoria are so beautiful. And don't panic if you forget your umbrella as the Empress will loan you one for FREE. Victoria is
loaded with charm and beauty. It lacks the signage, skyscrapers and billboards of a modern city, but has retained a European charm, including the Parliment Building that looks like Cinderella's Castle lit up with thousands of lights at night! Tally Ho....and
enjoy! We sure did!!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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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Vancouver, Canada
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2010

I generally avoid 'coupons' but the recent Groupon fad caught me up and since I was traveling to Victoria for the marathon anyway and had planned to stay at the Empress (I used to work there many, many years ago) I thought why not take advance of what seemed to be quite a reasonable rate offered by Groupon.

Unfortunately, use of the Groupon resulted in a 30 min+ checkin (at 10pm at night), a change in the class of room I booked (downgraded of course), and an unpleasant interaction with the night manager.

I used to speak quite highly of this hotel given that I worked there when I was in university, but the quality of service was so lackluster that I simply cannot recommend one stay at The Empress these days unless one is expecting Holiday Inn-style service for at least 4-times the price. Very saddening to witness.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2010

I stayed at the Empress Hotel for one night with my family of four. At check-in I was shaken down to upgrade to a more comfortable room for the price of $40. I had booked my room thru Clipper Vacations in addition to ferry rides and a tour of the city. Apparently, the Clipper provided room would have been too small for our family. I thought this was a HUGE rip off and a scam. In other words, pay to upgrade or we will give you the worst room in the hotel. This was after paying $300.00 already for the one night stay. We paid up and received just an okay room. I can't imagine what we would have been given if we hadn't upgraded!
The Hotel location can't be beat and the scenery is terrific. You can walk to most locations and the service was decent. We did not eat at the hotel because the prices were much too high. Tea for my family would have cost approx $300.00. Crazy.
All in all I would recommend finding a lower priced alternative hotel in the same general location. Victoria is a can't be missed place to see, Friendly people and beautiful sites. You can always walk through the hotel or just take in the scenery from the lawn.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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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, November 1, 2010
I am very sorry for your disappointing welcome to the hotel. I can assure you that this is certainly not indicative of the engaging service that we strive for with each and every one of our guests.
Your comments regarding the offer of upgrade and the manner in which it was presented is very concerning and I invite you to contact me directly to discuss any further questions or concerns that you may have. My email address is cathy.leblanc@fairmont.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Windsor, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2010

Unless you've got money to burn, stay elsewhere. This is a high end hotel, with high end prices, on everything. We got a deal on travelzoo, but I would NEVER pay the regular rates for this place. It is old, so it has some charm. There is NO free internet service. When you pay as much for a hotel, you'd expect some creature comforts. They charge $29 a night to park. A little hint.....between 6pm and 9am, on-street parking is free. Save your money. I parked right beside the hotel for FREE. If you have laundry that needs doing, don't expect to wash it there either. No coin-laundry. But you can send your clothes out and have a shirt washed for 8 bucks and socks for 7. There are way better places within blocks to stay. Try them first.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Seattle, WA
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2010

My husband and I stayed for a weekend in September, to celebrate our third anniversary with friends. We scored a great deal on the room, so we were very excited to be staying there!

When we went to check in around one or so, we had to come back a bit later to get our room - but that was because we specified a King bed (thanks, Orbitz - other sites didn't allow you to specify a preference!) , so we were happy to wait. And it was definitely worth it.

Our room was very well appointed, with beautiful furnishings, linens, and fixtures. The room was also very clean. As a nice plus, we had a view overlooking some sort of atrium and a lot of flowers.

The lobby had plenty of seating, and the business suite is nice to have. The pool and hottub were great, though a bit crowded (not really the hotel's fault, but perhaps they should set time limits on the hot tub when busy?).

Of additional note, we also booked high tea in the Empress as part of our stay. Unfortunately, this wasn't really my thing - a few small sandwiches and sweets, some of which were great and some not so, for something like $50/pp. Ouch! Next time, I'll spend the money on a good dinner out somewhere nice.

All in all, though, I'd definitely recommend this hotel to just about anyone, especially couples looking for a nice, romantic getaway (I think they even had two or three weddings at the hotel while we were there!).

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
New Westminster, Canada
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2010

I jumped at the special $99 travelzoo promotion.
The Empress is a Victoria landmark and a wonderful place to stay. Great location and I love the interior of this old grand hotel. So much character and old-world charm.
Yes, the parking was a little steep ($29 for self-park) but since we got such a great deal it didn't bother me. We had a small dog with us and they charge $25/night which I also think is a little pricey too. But all in all I was very happy with the stay. If you sign up for the Fairmont frequent guest program (can't remember what it's called) your internet is free.
The room was very nice, very comfortable king bed and nice fluffly pillows!
And don't miss the curry buffet in the Bengal Lounge; a real treat.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled on business
    • 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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Edmonton, Alberta
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2010

When you arrive at the Empress, you are immediately stuck by the beauty of the location. On the bay, next to the Parliament Buildings and Museum. Fast & efficient check n. We arrived 2 hours before check in and they had our room ready. The room was exactly what we requested. NS, double with a view. The hotel is big and has 2 distinct sides. One one side is the lobby and on the other is the Dining area. The Dining area is where high tea is served, Bengal Bar & shops. The small sundry shop sells Empress Hotel souvenirs & food stuffs. The Verandah restaurant on a warm afternoon is a must. Service was fast, food was good. Give the breakfast room a miss. Don't miss the Bengal Bar a great place to stop for a drink at the end of the day. The Spa and Pool elevators are off the lobby. The hidden gem of the Empress is actually the pool area. There is a small children's pool, larger heated pool and a hot tub. The pool is set in a conservatory style area with large windows. Surrounding the hotel are lovely gardens with benches.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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
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 Business Hotel in Victoria
#13 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

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