Located in the heart of Victoria, British Columbia, stands the iconic Empress Hotel — an homage to sophistication, history, and grandeur. This enchanting property, often referred to as the “Castle on the Coast” has charmed visitors for over a century, offering a coveted blend of old-world charm and modern luxury. From its awe-inspiring property, to its exquisite rooms, delightful dining options, indulgent spa, and exclusive, newly renovated Gold Lounge, this hotel is truly a haven for discerning travelers seeking a memorable experience. Discover five reasons this hotel needs to be on your bucket list.
Set against the backdrop of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the hotel boasts a prime location with breathtaking views. The exterior of the building showcases its historic charm, featuring ornate details and beautiful landscaping. The hotel’s entrance welcomes guests with a grand foyer adorned with marble floors, sparkling chandeliers, and elegant furnishings. The property also boasts manicured gardens, providing a serene outdoor space to relax and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
The Empress Hotel’s location is unparalleled. With its proximity to the Inner Harbour, you can easily go on scenic harbor tours, visit the world-famous Royal BC Museum, or stroll through the picturesque Beacon Hill Park. The hotel also serves as a gateway to wonderful day trips like the enchanting Butchart Gardens, a horticultural wonderland.
The Newly Renovated Gold Lounge
The Fairmont Empress Gold Lounge has recently unveiled its highly anticipated renovation. The extensive transformation includes an expansive and state-of-the-art Fairmont Gold lounge spanning over 4,000 square feet, as well as the addition of 22 new Fairmont Gold guest rooms.
The breathtaking design pays tribute to the building’s original fixtures and highlights elements that reflect its rich history. Inspired by the serene Salish Sea and the captivating colors of the sky, the design captures a sense of serenity and the awe-inspiring power of nature. Notable features include exposed brick archway doors, a fireplace, and original steel beams dating back to the building’s 1908 architecture, discovered during the renovation process. These elements serve as a reminder of the property’s incredible heritage that spans 115 years.
Guests can indulge in various inviting spaces within the Fairmont Gold lounge, such as cozy alcoves, library nooks, bistro seating, and a spacious outdoor terrace overlooking the harbor. The luxury residential-style pantry area features elegant marble islands and offers daily breakfast, afternoon tea bites, and evening canapes, creating a sophisticated ambiance that makes guests feel at home. There’s also an honor bar, featuring a premium selection of wines and spirits, as well as a daily signature cocktail.
Guests who book the Fairmont Gold experience can also take advantage of an exclusive check-in on the hotel’s first floor, as well as personalized concierge services and amenities. The dedicated Fairmont Gold concierge team takes pride in providing personalized service, assisting guests with arranging private excursions, spa treatments at the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa, and securing reservations at the city’s top restaurants, ensuring a seamless and memorable stay.
Dining at The Empress is an experience that is sure to satisfy any appetite. The hotel boasts a range of culinary delights that cater to all tastes.
The signature restaurant is Q at the Empress, the award-winning destination with a tantalizing menu that showcases the Pacific Northwest region. Chef Wilson creates a dining experience that truly captures the essence of Vancouver Island by focusing on the exceptional quality and flavors of the local produce and seafood. Not-to-be missed dishes include the Empress seafood chowder and the birch-glazed steelhead trout. Regional wines provide the perfect complement to any of the dishes. For more casual fare, step onto the Veranda, a picturesque patio that invites you to savor the beauty of its stunning location. Overlooking the lovely Inner Victoria Harbour, this outdoor spot offers a tasty dining experience framed by ocean views.
If you’re looking for creative cocktails, check out the Q Bar for crafted cocktails, artisan beers, and the delectable Empress 1908 Gin. Whether you choose to cozy up at the bar or sink into a plush couch with friends, prepare to be captivated by the lively ambiance that surrounds you.
Arguably the most iconic dining experience at The Empress is Afternoon Tea held in the Lobby Lounge. It’s an absolute must. Savor delicate pastries, freshly baked scones, and a jaw-dropping selection of teas while taking part in the hotel’s legendary tea service, a tradition that dates back over a century. If you’re feeling particularly celebratory, you can add a glass of French champagne.
If you do visit the Lobby Lounge, be sure to treat yourself to a Sunset Sip. In addition to the Fairmont Gold renovation, the Empress is celebrating its 115th anniversary throughout 2023. As part of the festivities, the property introduced Sunset Sips, an evening cocktail and culinary experience, held in the luxurious Lobby Lounge. This unique experience offers a delightful twist on tradition, featuring creative cocktails served in teapots and tiers of tapas. Against the backdrop of the sparkling Harbour, guests can enjoy this lively atmosphere as the sun gracefully sets across the horizon.
While some rooms can be on the small side (which is to be expected from a hotel over a century old that has stayed true to its heritage), all are meticulously designed to reflect classic elegance and contemporary style. Rooms feature plush furnishings, soft carpeting and thoughtfully chosen artwork. Many suites boast an abundance of natural light and provide wonderful views of either the city skyline or the picturesque harbor. You’ll enjoy the modern conveniences of high-speed internet, flat-screen TVs, cozy terry bathrobes and Keurig coffee makers, ensuring your stay is comfortable.
To truly rejuvenate the mind and body, a visit to the Willow Stream Spa is essential. This tranquil oasis offers a range of indulgent treatments designed to melt away stress and leave you feeling utterly pampered. Whether you choose a soothing massage, a rejuvenating facial, or a revitalizing body treatment, the skilled therapists at the spa will ensure an experience that is both relaxing and transformative. The serene ambiance of the spa, combined with the use of high-quality products, guarantees a blissful escape from the outside world.
One treatment not to be missed is the recently launched Empress 1908 Experience. Inspired by the coastal waters and botanicals of Empress Gin, the Empress 1908 Experience is a must-try spa treatment. This 90-minute body indulgence incorporates juniper notes and warm butterfly pea blossom, ingredients found in the hotel’s signature gin, along with natural products that reflect Victoria’s natural surroundings. The experience includes a calming mindful ritual, body scrub, massage with warm juniper oil, and a dry warm wrap. It’s the perfect blend to nourish, exfoliate, and relax both the body and soul.