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“A Grand Old Landmark”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Seattle
Level Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“A Grand Old Landmark”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 13, 2011

In most every postcard of Victoria BC especially ones of the inner harbor, you usually see the vine riddled, old yet magnificent building with EMPRESS in big white neon sign that has stood the test of time. This building is of course from the exterior grand and charming and the service is well...in a word Fairmont. The service is splendid it is first class as you would expect from a Fairmont property. The property is big and there is a small rose garden with benches and a small park. The location is by far the best of all the hotels, now the city itself is small and quaint and this hotel has the best location to center of town, the museums, the harbor ( I mean it's in the inner harbor) the provincial legislature building and let's be honest everyone and everyone knows where the Empress is. So the location is usually where tour and shuttle buses like to pick up passengers to take them to Butchart gardens and other sites outside the city or further out from the city.
The lobby is grand with the glass ceiling and marble floors. The old pictures that hang from the walls from visits from world leaders; Presidents and the queen of the United Kingdom.The interior feels lavish and yet it also feels a little dated and old. There's a certain charm that goes with it and I mean that in the best sense of the world "old" I loved the wood staircase and all the wood floors of the Indian restaurant and the high tea room ( my girlfriend and I was not about to pay the $50-60 price for tea, finger sandwiches, and deserts when you can go other tea rooms I highly recommend the White Heather tea room). I guess you could to enjoy the tradition and the history of the place I think they've been serving tea since 1908 or something like that.
The corridors to get to your room are long, narrow, and again having that feeling of being a little dated and not very well lit. Now we get to the rooms and I say rooms because there was an isolated incident from other rooms (The air conditioning system in the hotel is all connected so when someone was smoking in their room it passed through the AC system into our room). The room change was swift and again the service was impeccable we were moved into another room with immediacy and nothing but apologies because if I remember correctly the hotel has a no-smoking policy). However when the website uses terms like "traditional" and "cozy take notice that these words mean small, old, and again a little dated. The furniture ie couch, chair, tables and desks in the rooms seemed as if they were left over from the when hotel was originally built. Although the TV was flatscreen and all new. Most importantly the bed could not have any more pillows and crisp sheets and soft blankets. The bed was a Fairmont bed, which is the most important.
The fitness center was small but yet not crowded and it had a plethora of machines and free weights. The pool is firstly ground level and it looks out, which people can also look in with ease into a small European style pool, which means indoors and somewhat private it was not a huge Olympic size pool where kids could be found with their parents lounging poolside.
* I must note and this is an air of stuffiness to the property and rightly so, it is one of the most elegant properties and namesakes in the world but there was a feeling stuffy wealthy arrogance to hotel, although there were young families with kids and young couples as well.

This is a great property with a central location and friendly staff with that impeccability of the world class service that the Fairmont brand is known for around the world. I recommend staying here at least once to experience the world famous Empress. However it is very "European" and when I say that it describes the style of hotel, not the people and not in a negative connotation at all whatsoever. I mean it is small, quaint, and charming in many of boutique and even chain hotels are in Europe. There is a class, sophistication, and "traditional" feel to hotels.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank LRJ13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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devon
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 13, 2011

stayed in this hotel at the end of a self drive tour, just a nice touch of luxury without breaking the bank . A hotel with interesting history to it. the room we had.which was spacious, looked out onto the harbour. well worth the money.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank alison54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
48 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 13, 2011

First time trip out west and had great expectations for the Empress Hotel. We requested two separate beds as two friends travelling together. Our room faced the loading docks in the back. However after calling and stating disappointment we were given complimentary breakfast for our entire stay which was a nice recovery. Room was lovely, very clean and the beds so comfortable. And the grounds of the hotel are spectacular. Use the public bus system to get around and you will save a ton of $$. Staff were very friendly and helpful.

Also we had the afternoon tea. The room is exquisite, the price way out of line for what you get. This is a do it once event not to be repeated.

Room Tip: If you want a room with a view you have to pay!
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank nittoToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 13, 2011

Recently stayed for a weekend at the Fairmont Empress and I would recommend staying elsewhere if you are visiting Victoria. The hotel is stately, but rather outdated. The rooms are small, cramped and rather claustrophobic. There is no vent fan in the bathroom. The rooms need to be updated. The service is good and the staff is helpful. The parking situation is a headache with no direct access to your car. We spent alot of time walking through the underground parking garage looking for our car. They should have a valet service. Parking costs $30 a night - too high. However, I would recommend visiting the Fairmont Empress for tea or a meal as it is one of the key sites to see when visiting Victoria.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Travelsteward
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, June 21, 2011
Thank you for your feedback and I regret that your recent stay did not meet your expectations. We have a variety of room sizes and types available in the hotel. We are currently planning our next guest room refurbishment project and your comments will be taken into consideration as part of this process.

I am sorry that you were not informed of our valet parking service that we have available at The Fairmont Empress, in addition to self parking. The valet parking and self parking rates are the same and with both you have full in and out privileges until 4pm on the day of check out.

Thank you for your comments and I hope we can welcome you back again soon.
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Prince George, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2011

great location to stay with all the amenities. The tea room was incredible

Room Tip: would recommend a suite
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Cnorbury
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, Canada
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2011

My daughter and I checked into the Fairmont Empress on Friday night for a mutual Mother's Day week-end. From the minute we checked in until we left two days later we were made to feel like royalty.

We had one of our best experiences in the Bengal Room for dinner and it just got better and better.

After a wonderful afternoon in the Willow Stream Spa we truly felt like we had been on a two week holiday.

Thank you Fairmont Empress!!

Helen Collier

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank helen_colliler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Level Contributor
139 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2011

My husband and I have stayed here several times over the years. It's the nicest, most elegant hotel in Victoria. This time we were in Victoria to ride in the Tour de Victoria which is a road bike race. We often ride our bikes to Victoria from Vancouver and love to have our bikes valet-parked at the Empress. The location of the hotel is ideal - right in the middle of the harbour and within walking distance of everything downtown. The rooms are beautiful. This time we had a king suite with harbour view. It was 2 separate spacious rooms and the bedroom had a big bathroom with bathtub/shower and the sitting room had another bathroom with a shower. We had a great view out the front of the hotel looking over the waterfront and we loved that the windows actually open so we slept with fresh air. The only slightly negative thing is that the place is crawling with tourists - both inside and out and so it's very busy. Our room was on the Gold Floor and the lounge is very nice. It's a great place to meet other people and the food is excellent. Our lounge attendant, Stephanie was very helpful and friendly. The lounge is much quieter and more laid back than the lobby downstairs where things are very busy.
There are many great restaurants and pubs nearby within walking distance. We always have a nice dinner at Pescatore's across the street when we are in Victoria and this time we also had a great, casual dinner at the Irish Pub, a few blocks away.
We have tried several other hotels in Victoria but we have decided that the Empress is our favourite and that's where we always go.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank h0lym0ly
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, June 13, 2011
Thank you for your wonderful post, h0lym0ly. I trust that you enjoyed the inauagural Tour de Victoria event and that you will be registering for the next tour on June 24, 2012!

I am pleased that you were able to enjoy the amenities of Fairmont Gold and could fully appreciate the "hotel within a hotel" services. Remember that we do have complimentary BMW bikes and helmets available for our Fairmont President's Club members, so should you decide to visit without bringing your bicycles - we do have some available for you to rent. These are available on a first come, first serve basis and can be borrowed for a 2hr period.

We look forward to welcoming you back and having the opportunity to valet your bicycles for you and we will see you for the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria 2012!
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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

Property: 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 Spa Hotel in Victoria
#9 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#13 Business Hotel in Victoria
#16 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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