I was in Victoria a few days ago on business, and stayed at the Fairmont Empress. I've stayed there before, so I knew full well what I was getting myself into. And I'm pleased to note that once again, the Empress exceeded my expectations in every possible way.
I like staying at Fairmont hotels - mainly for the exceptional service, but also because they are often historic properties with an unmatched charm and elegance. No hotel better exemplifies this than the Empress. From the minute you step out of the cab upon arrival, the friendly and helpful staff do everything in their power to make you feel like royalty.
You can read all about the hotel's rich and colourful history on the Fairmont website. What the website doesn't tell you is exactly how wonderful this place makes you feel. The service really is top-shelf. The staff are all smiling, they all greet you by name, and you really are made to feel like you're their best customer in the world. I used Fairmont's I'm On My Way service to check-in via my Blackberry while still en route, and shortly afterward received a confirmation email that my room was ready and waiting, and the doorman would give me my keys. Upon arrival, I gave him my name and voila - he had everything ready, and I was upstairs in the room in a few minutes, with no line-ups or waiting at all.
The room was gorgeous.
The Empress is an old building, but it has been impeccably cared for all its life, and it really shows -- it's in amazingly beautiful condition. My room was larger than I had expected, with a king bed facing two large windows that opened. M view was straight out the front, overlooking the beautiful Victoria harbour. To the right, a large fireplace with a gorgeous wooden mantle. To the left, a large walk-in closet and the washroom (with excellent water pressure in the shower, something you sometimes take for granted). The carpet appeared to be fairly new (as did the carpet in the hallway), and the room was spotlessly clean. The bed was firm and comfy, with four pillows to choose from. I like having a choice of firm and soft pillows, and not all hotels offer this. Talk about a nice touch.
I was still a bit wound up from traveling, so decided to hit the hotel's gym. Wow - it was really nice, with a wide range of new equipment, and a fully stocked towel rack and beverage area. I didn't try the pool, but could see it while I worked out, and it looks great.
I did not have time to treat myself to enjoying high tea (an Empress tradition) on this trip, but did so a few months ago on a previous trip to Victoria, and strongly recommend it to anyone - whether you stay at the hotel or not.
My trip was very short, only two days, but I was genuinely sorry to have to leave. The Empress is a bit more than just a hotel, it's an indulgent experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. If you're reading this and considering staying there, just do it. You won't regret it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Regarded as a Condé Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the Fairmont Empress graces Victoria's sparkling Inner Harbour with an iconic presence. The Fairmont Empress, Victoria B.C.’s most iconic hotel, has just unveiled a $60 million dollar restoration.This luxury hotel offers 464 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, and expansive meeting and wedding space adjacent to the conference centre. Located on the picturesque West Coast of Canada, this is the ideal location to explore all the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. ... 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