Empress Hotel

The Empress hotel rises majestically against the backdrop of Victoria's waterfront. Vancouver Island's finest hotel and the city itself share a namesake in Queen Victoria of England. Britain's longest-reigning monarch was a beloved figure in Canada, even after the country declared its independence. When this grand hotel was built, it originally served as a hotel to house steamship passengers. A century later, the Fairmont Empress Victoria remains atop the list of the luxury hotels in British Columbia and all of Canada.

Empress Hotel Rooms
Empress Hotel Rooms

Even though the Empress Hotel at 721 Government Street has a long history, that does not mean it looks old or outdated. The 477-room hotel has been completely renovated with modern comforts while retaining the historic flair. In the guestrooms, you'll find comfortable retreats and a place to relax while you're soaking in the charms of Victoria. Many of the rooms overlook the Inner Harbour, while the balance of the rooms offers views of the lavish landscaped courtyards or the city center. All of the rooms feature elegant design, cozy linens, and a sitting area. All rooms come with down-filled comforters, high-speed Internet access, and TVs with gaming systems.

The hotel suites at the Fairmont Empress Victoria add even more space and luxury for guests to enjoy. Guests who book a room on the gold level are treated to a complimentary breakfast and personalized service. Guests are invited to a reception area on the second floor with windows overlooking the Inner Harbour—tea and coffee service is available throughout the day, and cocktails and canapes are served in the evening.

Both guests and visitors are invited to experience an Empress Hotel tradition: afternoon high tea. The grand lobby of the Fairmont Empress Victoria serves as a fitting setting for this most British of pursuits. Service begins at 11:30 a.m. and continues throughout the afternoon; the dress code is casual, but you should leave your beachwear back in the room. The spread includes specially blended teas served with scones with crème and strawberry jam. The hotel's expert pastry staff mixes up the menu by incorporating sophisticated flavors and locally grown produce. No high tea service is complete without dainty finger sandwiches, which are served alongside the other delicacies.

Afternoon tea is one element of the dining scene at the most elegant of downtown hotels. Locally grown produce and other products showcase a commitment to sustainability. Many of the menus feature items from the nearby Cowichan Valley and the Saanich Peninsula. The hotel's namesake, Queen Victoria, was Empress of India, so the lounge continues to serve a curry buffet the queen would have loved. Guests also enjoy cocktails (and views of the ferries) from the elegant verandah. Room service also is available 24 hours and the hotel's staff can create box lunches perfect for picnics and days exploring all Victoria has to offer.

If a long day of exploring has you longing for a day of relaxing, you'll be delighted to know that the Empress Hotel is home to one of the best spas in Vancouver. Before a facial or any other treatment, guests enjoy the spa ritual—an experience that begins with time in the steam room, followed by a sauna visit and a mineral bath. A fitness center with a heated indoor pool and whirlpool also is available to Empress Hotel guests.

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