Could there be a more charming place? Harbor wrapping around the city center, flowers planted and hanging from every possible spot, well maintained lovely architecture and polite foot traffic.
We stayed at a lovely AirBnB in Saanich, a short ride outside of Victoria and elected to spend one full day in the city, having been there on one other occasion. We started in Chinatown, a small, but vibrant part of the city with many grocers, shops and restaurants. We chose a place called I Kyu Noodles that was outstanding. Dan wanted to try a few of their more “interesting” dishes but they were out of the key ingredients, I was not disappointed. Our waitress made an excellent suggestion and we enjoyed our meal thoroughly. We strolled through Chinatown a bit, but it really was just a tiny version of others we have experienced so we went on our way.
Walking around Victoria is just plain beautiful. Flowers planted everywhere, people enjoying carriage rides (if you ignore how you feel about the horses working all day in stressful traffic), beautiful buildings, water just about every way you turn. We had a good time just watching the float planes come in to the little airport on the water.
Inevitably all walks lead to the Empress Hotel.
Located on the beautiful and vibrant inner harbor she reigns over the area like the true Empress she is. Known for fancy teas, impeccable hospitality, perfect location and old school luxury she is a “must visit” when in Victoria. We are not traveling with a budget that includes tea at the Empress, we elected other treats instead. We did go in the lobby and were greeted by Winston, the hotel dog.
He is a magnificent golden lab with the manners of a nobleman and the charisma of a movie star. We saw him in the Christmas poster upstairs ,and when we asked a hotel employee about him she said he was one of the most popular features of the hotel. Guests could register to take him for a walk and that was a very popular offering.
Wandering around the lobby you can’t help but notice the lovely chandeliers, They flair triumphantly over the space adding light, sparkle, depth and unusual shape.
These shapes were subtly echoed throughout the hotel, in other art, textiles and I am sure things we didn’t ourselves see.
We decided to have an afternoon cocktail in the lounge as our big treat for the day. It’s a beautiful space with a great view of the inner harbor and lovely appointments.
See those gorgeous bottles of blue vodka? That’s a natural color and it is the Empress Hotel’s own signature vodka. It is especially fun since it changes color depending on what you mix the vodka with. It goes from that vibrant blue to a dusky mauve, periwinkle, lavender…all the shades you can imagine coming from that blue.
I splurged and had their Empress French 75 Cocktail which had this Empress 1908 vodka, Veuve Cliquot champagne and pearls of grapefruit. It tasted as grand as the surroundings!
Dan was in his element there in the lounge!
After we enjoyed our time in the cocktail lounge we said goodbye to Winston, who seemed devastated to see us go and wandered off to find more within-budget adventures, glad to have spent the time in the beautiful hotel.