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“Empress great but don't take your car!”

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The Fairmont Empress
Ranked #20 of 46 Hotels in Victoria
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed August 27, 2008

Stayed two days at the Empress. This is a beautiful historic hotel right in downtown Victoria so you are close to all the major attractions and cool restaurants and shops. The staff were very helpful and friendly. The room still has some of the authentic period features such as doors and moulding but has been furnished with modern pieces. The bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept on in a hotel with a lovely down duvet. The bathroom was completely updated and was full of natural light and very spacious. Maid service was impeccable and we loved the room. There is some construction on a large apartment building going on near the hotel so be prepared for some noise from that starting at 7:00 AM . We had some lovely dessert and after dinner drinks in the Bengal Lounge which is again an historic room with period features complete with tiger skin. Great "old world" vibe. Now my note of caution... We are from Vancouver so we brought our car - big mistake! No parking for guests at the hotel except for the lot under the hotel. To park there from 1 oclock in the afternoon to the next morning at about 9:30 AM cost us 20.00. If you leave your car there for 24 hours it will cost you 26.00. We ended up parking our car about 6 blocks away starting at 4PM and had to make sure we got back to it by 10AM to avoid any tickets. If you are staying there for 4 days you could conceivably spend 100 dollars on parking!! So, take the greyhound bus to Victoria if you want to stay at the Empress - the bus station is literally ten steps from the Empress and is one of the least scary I've been in.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank TTVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,604 - 3,610 of 3,978 reviews

Reviewed August 21, 2008

We were so excitied to be staying at the Fairmont Empress based on reviews and photos, however that quickly changed when we arrived in our room (Room M22). It was NOTHING like the other photos we saw. We did book a two queen bed room and I am not sure if that had anything to do with it. So I called downstairs to complain and express that we were less than impressed, considering the price we paid ($250). Our room also smelled like smoke, which as the bellman told us was because some rooms were smoking and then they tried to convert them to non-smoking but it takes some time for the smell to come out. So after some time, they moved us to another room (Room 109), which was just a little better (no smoke smell). It had an awful view of the parking garage. We were in the room about an hour when another family opened the door! They had given both of us the same room. I couldnt believe it! I had also requested a crib, which took awhile to arrive.

I spoke to both housekeeping and the bellman and they both stated that the hotel had many rooms and that they were not full and did not understand why they gave us one of the lesser rooms. They also stated that the hotels rooms were all different and they should have been able to find a better one for us. They didnt!! The receptionist told me that all the rooms were the same. So I still dont know which is true. Perhaps room categories are all different, meaning the king size rooms are the updated ones unlike the two queen rooms.

In any event, I would never go back or recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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3  Thank MauidAmy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2008

I've stayed at the Empress several times, and even splurged on one particularly special occasion on a junior suite. It's a nice hotel, don't get me wrong, but I'd definitely try something else next time. I think it's overpriced and overrated. It's not any better than any other 4 star hotel, but one would think it might be. It seems cookie cutter and cheap, even though it's supposed to be vintage chic. Stay somewhere else and save your money.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank myrosiecheeks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2008

My boyfriend and I stayed at this hotel in early August for three nights. We had booked "the Deal of the Century" back in January -- $100 a night all year for rooms if you booked before Jan 31 -- as we knew well in advance that we were coming to a wedding in Victoria. Since we did indeed get a fantastic deal it was amazing value for money for us and I certainly wouldn't complain about the price we paid.

We arrived at the hotel very late and jet-lagged and were greated by extremely friendly staff. Our room was teeny-tiny, with a Queen bed and a very old and tired-looking bathroom (but what can you expect for $100? I figured they'd give us one of the worst rooms). As other reviewers have noted, there is no A/C, but what surprised me is that our window did not open. We had a view of the inner courtyard and all the other windows I could see looked much newer and were open, so I'm not sure what the deal was with ours. We were also told at the front desk that our room had no internet service, which I think is pretty weird in this day. Anyway, the room was pretty worn looking and strangely configured, but at least it was very quiet. It was a very long hike from the reception area to our door.

The hotel grounds and public areas are absolutely gorgeous. I didn't eat in any of the lounges but I poked my head in to take a look and everything was so intricately decorated and ornate. Definitely a grand hotel. If I had been less busy I would have certainly gone for afternoon tea as it looked very enticing.

The hotel has an all-night room service menu, which was great for us, although it's pretty pricey. I didn't use the gym or pool but my boyfriend said they were great. The staff were supremely courteous and friendly

All in all I would recommend this hotel if you want the Empress experience and you plan to dine in the restaurants and take in the tea. I realize that most of the rooms in the place are probably better than the one we got but I heard from other guests staying there that many of the rooms are quite small and charmless. I guess it depends whether or not you're on the Gold floor and how much you're willing to pay. If you're just looking for a hotel with a nice room in the inner harbour I would say go elsewhere.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled on business
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Thank Sabbydoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2008

Victoria is practically over run with tourists during the summer and the Empress acts as an oasis of tranquility amidst it all.

We received a great deal with their package "Deal of the Century" -- the hotel being 100 years old this year -- and arranged our vacation to spend a couple of nights at the famous Empress.

Check in was fast and smooth, particularly being a Fairmont President's Club member. The valet parked the car and our luggage was quickly brought to our room. The hotel is very spead out but its a pleasure walking down the luxurious hallways.

Our renovated room was not large but of a good size and had a street view instead of harbor view. The bathroom was small but there was lots of storage space in the closet and drawers. Wonderful high beds! Good comforable chairs and a thick carpet. And windows that opened from the top and the bottom. After a day of sightseeing and visiting friends, it was such a pleasure to come back to our comfortable room.

We did not partake of the famous Afternoon Tea but did arrange for a picnic box to be ready on our checkout day. A marvelous spread of cold cuts, cheese, fruit, organic greens, hotel baked bread -- all packed up and waiting for us at the bell desk as we left the hotel.

In short, The Empress provides great, friendly service in an historical setting.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank 2DogsCalgary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2008

I've stayed at the Empress many times but last week, I accidentally stumbled into the most rare of rarities there: a room with air-conditioning. Since I know this comes up here often as a complaint (even though you don't really need air-conditioning in Victoria), thought I'd share the secret:

There are 4 rooms with air conditioning -- all on the 8th floor. In fact, they're the only 4 rooms on the floor, which apparently was converted from storage space some years ago. To get to the 8th floor, you have to take the elevator from the main reception lobby to the 6th floor, then walk a bit to a separate elevator that just goes to 7 and 8.

These rooms are Fairmont Gold, which means you'll pay more for them, but I always think the Empress is a hotel where paying more for Fairmont Gold is worth it -- the lounge has a great view, the breakfasts are fantastic and the staff really helpful. However, since the Gold lounge is on the other side of the hotel, staying on the 8th floor means you'll be taking 2 elevators and walking about 2 city blocks (the length of the hotel) to get there. So probably not a good idea for small kids, but totally worth it for adults, imo.

So book via the hotel directly, and ask for the 8th floor.

(And if it's not available, just get another Fairmont Gold room. The hotel is still great -- although I think the restaurants are getting a bit convention-bland -- and you don't really need air conditioning.)

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled solo
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Thank miomi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2008

It's been a few years, but a stay we'll never forget. Since she was young, my wife had wanted to stay here and experience a true "British High Tea." Our kids also loved it as they brought milk and cookies at night. The definition of elegance and comfort, and one of Victoria's "crown jewels."

The views are incredible as the front of the hotel overlooks the harbor and, left, there are views of the Houses of Parliament for the province of British Columbia.

*(Be sure to read the displays on your way to the parking garage! You'll read of everything from the Queen's stay, years back, to the story of when a mountain lion made his way along the beaches, into the city and down into the below-level parking garage of the Empress!)

  • Stayed: June 2003, traveled with family
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Thank A_Beauceant
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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Victoria
#6 Spa Hotel in Victoria
#9 Luxury Hotel in Victoria
#13 Business Hotel in Victoria
#14 Family Hotel in Victoria
#16 Romantic Hotel in Victoria
Price Range: $203 - $544 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fairmont Empress 4*
Number of rooms: 477
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

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