The Fairmont Empress Hotel is the almost castle-like hotel in Victoria’s Inner Harbour that’s famous for its English Teas, history and stunning appearance.
Located at 721 Government Street, not only is the Empress Hotel a beautiful first-class place to stay, but it’s also a National Historic Site.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Empress closed for a significant period of time. However, it began welcoming guests again in June, and remains open as of September.
For the most up-to-date information about the status of the hotel see the Empress Victoria website.
The Empress Hotel
Built in 1908 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company, the impressive Edwardian-style building is arguably Victoria’s most recognizable landmark. The Empress Hotel is expensive and its rooms tend to be small, but it’s an experience to stay in.
The hotel was designed by Sir Francis Rattenbury who was one of British Columbia’s most famous and celebrated architects. Other buildings he designed include BC’s Legislative Buildings (across the street from the Empress) as well as the Vancouver Art Gallery. One of his earlier and more humble works is what today is the Roedde House Museum in Vancouver’s West End.
Even if you don’t stay at the Empress, do still go inside and check it out. The English Teas there are exquisite and famous around the world, the entrance and interior of the building are quite grand, and unless you look really out of place nobody will stop you from going in and having a look around, at least on the main floor and in the main public areas.
Other Canadian cities have similar hotels. Vancouver, for example, has the historic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Tips and Advice
Below is some extra information and suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to the Empress.
TIP #1: If you’re in downtown at the Inner Harbour and looking for a washroom, the Empress Hotel has nice ones down the stairs by the entrance closest to the Parliament Buildings and Royal BC Museum. Just don’t tell them we told you so!
TIP #2: Keep an eye out for Winston, the Hotel’s resident canine. You are able to hang out with him, cuddle with him, and take him for walks if you find yourself missing your own pup too much. If you can’t part with your pooch for this trip, the Empress allows pets to stay there for an additional charge.
TIP #3: For a way to explore the city at a good pace and get some exercise in, try to get a hold of one of the bikes kept at the Empress. They are first-come first-serve so you’ll want to talk to the Concierge about getting your hands on one when you check in. If you aren’t able to get one, there are also bike rental facilities near the Empress by the Inner Harbour.
TIP #4: If you’re like us and care about the environment, you’ll be happy to know that this hotel strives to be as sustainable as possible. They have implemented a composting and waste program, they have electric and hybrid charging stations, they use sustainable ingredients gathered from local farms, and they have bee-hives to produce their own honey.
TRIVIA: Guess what the highest paid position is at the Empress Hotel, even more than the General Manager (or at least it has been in the past). The Tea Servers! No, really! Including tips, which tend to be high, being a Tea Server at the Empress is a very lucrative job!
To book a room or for more information, see the Fairmont Hotel‘s website.
For a list of other places to stay see our article about Victoria Hotels.
For ideas on what to do while staying in town, check out Victoria’s Tourist Attractions.