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“Living Off It's Legendary Past” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Fairmont Empress

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #19 of 52 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Honolulu, Hawaii
Level Contributor
733 reviews
125 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,282 helpful votes
“Living Off It's Legendary Past”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2013

First, let me say we are glad we got to stay here for 3 nights. I have wanted to for some time. So, here are the good and the bad, in my opinion.

Good:

Ideal location, right across from the harbor. You can walk to just about everything...Chinatown, Parliament Building, BC Museum, Fisherman's Wharf and many restaurants and pubs. It is close to the bus station(around the block), where we got dropped off from the ferry from Vancouver. We enjoyed the Bengal lounge and their buffet. Nice to be able to come back after a long day off sightseeing and be able to enjoy a cocktail or two in your own hotel. Afternoon Tea is served and I will rate that separately. Hotel room was quiet. Closet had a safe. The hotel did acknowledge our special anniversary and comped a nice dessert. Nice photos on the wall from past guests...Queen Elizabeth, etc. We enjoyed looking at them.

Bad:

The service thru out the hotel was nothing grand. All were friendly but better service could be given. One night in the Bengal Lounge, the service was nonexistent...as in NO service.

The lobby itself is small and really just the check-in desk and the bellhops. No action. The furniture thru out the whole hotel, restaurants and the rooms are beat up and very worn. It needs to be replaced and should have been years ago.

Then, there was the room we had. No a/c in the rooms. And, it was pretty hot. There was 2 windows we opened but there were no screens. Some bugs got in. It would be a REAL safety hazard if you had little ones with you. There was an oscillating fan too, but it was noisy. The room was small and really had too much furniture in it for it's small size. No place to move around. The carpeting was stained. A small piece of paper was in front of our bed...and was there 3 days later when we left. So, no vacuuming. ALL the furniture was worn and beat up(just like all over the hotel). The 2 chairs were upholstered but were so dirty looking we did not venture to sit in them. Small refrigerator and a small coffee/tea pot. Closet had minimal hangers. Bathroom was dark and the tub/shower combo was small.

We were able to book a govt. rate(discounted) so the price came down. Normal rates here are too high for what you get. This is not a Fairmont Hotel as we know one. Really, I am surprised Fairmont has their name on this, as it is really a beat up hotel. The tea room and Bengal Lounge get a lot of foot traffic, not necessarily from registered hotel guests, just other people coming to have tea, drinks, dinner, etc. This hotel makes a tidy sum from their afternoon tea.

So, all in all, I think this hotel was really grand some time ago. But, it should not be just living off it's legendary past, as people are expecting a lot more when they stay here.

I know we were.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank HawaiiKaiGail
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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (907)
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English first
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2013

This hotel has a lot going for it; in particular, the central location, amazing and professional staff, and very good quality food. I spent four nights there for a convention and was quite comfortable. You need to pay attention to the various categories of the rooms - they are not generic as with some hotels. I was in a "Fairmont" room - which is the most basic of the rooms offered. It was absolutely fine for me, but if I had been with any family or if I had been needing workspace in the evening, it would not have worked (too small for more than one person, and no desk), so you do want to pay attention to ensure you are getting what you need. Also, the smaller size of the room meant that there is no buffer zone (the bed was about 3 feet from the hallway, separated by a very thin wall through which you could hear everything). However, all noise quieted down by nighttime, and I slept fine (and I am a light sleeper). Linens are top quality, bed not quite as comfortable as some other chains, but still pretty good. As others have noted, the furnishings and décor are a bit worn, but everything worked fine and was clean.
The Empress is a beautiful building in a spectacular setting, and I really liked how close it was to most sights. Take the time to enjoy the on-site gardens and to do the walk through close-by Beacon Hill Park. I had room service breakfasts a few times, plus also ate at the Bengal Lounge on site - food was very good. All interactions with staff were perfect - a great customer-oriented staff!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Cancliff405
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Morrinsville, New Zealand
Level Contributor
191 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2013 via mobile

Stayed at Fairmont as part of extensive trip for 25th wedding anniversary. Booked a year out so good rate which included breakfast. Hotel stunning. What a home team advantage for the original owners Canadian Rail. Room ample with super comfy king sized bed. Opening window was bliss after LA smog fest. Room spotless and well supplied. Breakfast was continental, tasty fruit and cereal, coffee that tasted like coffee, fresh toast and fruit juice to your table. Hot pastries coming out as fast as they were being eaten. A highlight of the trip. All for $23.00. Great value. Central to waterfront ferries and restaurants. Buskers, jazz bands playing all day. Join gold club for free and get complimentary wifi in hotel. Bring on Fairmont Whistler.

Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank VicnJen67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakland, Maryland
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 15, 2013

All in all, a very blah experience. Overpriced, overbooked, customer service that was polite and friendly but sorely lacking in addressing problems that arose in a timely fashion. The whole place had a “corporate efficiency” feel, where they were understaffing and under-resourced in order to meet bottom lines determined from corporate central. It was generally difficult to get anything done – staff were generally slow and not terribly competent.

Rooms were sold out throughout town for cheaper hotels. So in order to have a place to stay, we booked a room with two queen beds, which was what we needed. Upon arrival they told us only single bed rooms were available. I complained and begged, and then a room with two beds became available. When we got to the room, it was already occupied – rather strange and embarassing. So upon return to the front desk they booked us a room with one bed, and promised to send a cot to the room. After an hour or so, when we called to ask why the cot didn’t arrive, they indicated that a cot couldn’t be used in the room due to fire code. It took several more phone calls for them to finally send the cot, about 2 hours after check in.

Generally, attempts to access any hotel amenities via the in-room phone were met by a busy signal. The front desk was also always crowded with a big line and a long wait. Asking the baggage desk for assistance, they couldn’t help with anything but baggage. Incidentally, when we had arrived, no one offered to take our bags....Trying to reach a room from the lobby phone put me on hold for more than 5 minutes and then I finally gave up.

The room was furnished with rather old, poorly matched furniture. It felt cluttered and crowded. The bathroom was also small.

The food was pretty good but the menus were overpriced.

Not a bad hotel – nice experience wandering around the lobby and checking out the history of the place

Room Tip: Don't use web site last minute - you won't get what was promised
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank JustARandomTraveler
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, July 16, 2013
Dear Valued Guest from Maryland,
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. It was quite disappointing to read your comments about our service, hotel amenities and room. We strive to provide the best experience and customer service that guests have come to expect of Fairmont Hotels. I can see that we have fallen short on several accounts. I will personally be sharing your comments with our team so that we are able to move forward with the goal of improving our guest service and room product in the future. Thank you again for sharing the feedback; I would be happy to discuss your stay further should wish.

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.
Newry, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
67 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2013

We stayed in this hotel for two nights in June and although it is a lovely hotel we have stayed in better, the rooms were a little small for the reputation it has. The pool was also dissappointing. We ate in the restaurant and the food was delicious. Staff were all very friendly and helpful also. On the whole I think this hotel is just living on its name and I am not sure it is the best in the area.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank PaulineW209938
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whittier, California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2013

After all these years, the Empress Hotel still offers top-flight service, ambience, comfort, and convenience! This very classy establishment demonstrates commitment to staying at the top for the long haul. Well trained staff members work hard to please, and no question will go unanswered. Won't hesitate to stay here again!

Room Tip: Get a harbor view room
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank dgawa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
52 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2013

The Fairmont Empress is a beautiful and historic hotel in Victoria. I did have a nice stay at the hotel. It was very convenient to be at the same place as the Conference Centre. The room was clean and quiet. The bathroom was also clean.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no wi-fi and the fee to access the internet was almost $16 per night. The front desk attendant advised me to sign up for the Fairmont President's Club membership (free of charge). The membership grants free access to the internet.

I was also disappointed that the building doesn't have air conditioning. Not necessarily a major issue if it doesn't get too hot however that's relative. There was a ceiling fan. I only comment on the internet and lack of A/C because for the average rate for a room, I would have expected a bit more. However as I mentioned in the title, It's very beautiful...very historical and has an amazing location.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank mewall21
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, July 16, 2013
Dear Valued Guest from Toronto,
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on Tripadvisor of your recent stay with us. I am so pleased to hear that overall you enjoyed your time while staying with us. Being a 105 year old hotel provides us with the opportunity to maintain the ambiance of a by-gone era. I was happy to hear that you enjoyed the history of our hotel. I am glad that you signed up to be a member of our Fairmont President's Club. There are many other benefits to our loyalty program and I encourage you to take a look at our website for further information. 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
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

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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