British Columbia

Victoria, BC - Luxurious, Picturesque and Oh So British

The Inner Harbour of Victoria, British Columbia, is one of the prettiest and most lively places in Canada (not to mention the warmest winters).

The city is blessed with many luxury hotels offering glorious views onto the Victoria Harbor, which thrums with huge ferries, sleek yachts, whale-watching boats and kayaks. Between them, tiny water taxis dart from dock to dock looking like bathtub toys accompanied by a constant drone of float planes landing and taking off.

On the landward side, buggies drawn by clip-clopping horses show couples the historic provincial parliament building, the Royal British Columbia Museum and Thunderbird Park with a dozen towering totem poles. 

All is, well, so genteel. Little wonder, for Victoria is considered the most British city outside of Great Britain. As you wander among pubs, luxury hotels, coffee shops and art galleries, the screech of bagpipes played by a kilted busker will follow you. Tourists are boarding – you guessed it – double-decker buses. 

It’s time to visit Victoria and try an overnight in one of the top-end hotels that are comfy, easy to find and offer many, often unusual, amenities. A cornerstone of the town, they offer not only luxury accommodation, but also gourmet restaurants, craft cocktails, coffee bars, jazz and entertainment. Their bars and restaurants also attract locals, with many Victorians buying day passes to visit onsite spas and health clubs or to swim in hotel pools.

An Iconic Landmark in Victoria

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Situated at the head of the Inner Harbor, the Fairmont Empress is a National Historic Site that has attracted kings, queens and celebrities since it opened in 1908. As a Victoria newspaper once said, “this is the heart and soul of the city.” Named for Queen Victoria, the 464-room Empress is steeped in delightfully eccentric English character.

Those seeking extra pampering can check into Fairmont Gold, a special hotel within the hotel. At the very top of the pyramid is the luxurious Royal Suite, taking up 1,600 square feet.

At Q at the Empress, the chef is constantly seeking innovative ways to present seafood freshly caught from the surrounding ocean. At Q Bar, you can sip creative cocktails while listening to live music and enjoying excellent harbor views. Those who have over-indulged can atone in the comprehensive fitness centre and swimming pool.

Tea at the Empress is world famous, so make reservations. You will sip tea with your pinkie held high while the table overflows with house-made scones, pastries, clotted cream and strawberry preserves.

The Willow Stream Spa offers 85 spa treatments in 11 rooms. You can waltz into the dawn in the Crystal Ballroom, or have a conference in one of 22 banquet/meeting rooms or at the conveniently connected Victoria Convention Centre.

Hotel The Fairmont Empress

Victoria
8.4 Very good (2369 reviews)

Location, Location, Location

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Situated just outside the city centre on the north side of the Inner Harbour, the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort is removed from the hustle-bustle and is, as the name suggests, a resort, complete with tennis courts and abundant greenery. The resort is right at water’s edge, a location that offers spectacular views of the harbour and instant access to the water-side path that wanders from park to park. This includes the nearby Songhees Totem Pole – once the tallest in Victoria until it was shortened to make it safer for the float planes. Getting to this Marriott hotel is easy, for it has its own Water Taxi dock.

The Resort features 240 guest rooms as well as one of Victoria’s largest ballrooms. Also popular is The Spa at Ocean Pointe Resort, as well as the full-service fitness centre complete with sauna. A big draw is the Lure Restaurant, which can seat 125 with room for another 75 on the patio, which is a popular spot on sunny days – and there are a lot in Victoria. Not only does the chef seek out local ingredients, but the restaurant offers sweeping views of the float planes and other hectic activity on the harbour. 

Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort

Top rated
Victoria
8.9 Excellent (2230 reviews)

In the Heart of the City

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Located on the south side of the Inner Harbour beside the British Columbia Legislative Buildings and across the street from the historic Steamship Terminal, the Hotel Grand Pacific is in the heart of the action. All 304 guest rooms have balconies providing close views of the activity. The Pacific Restaurant and Lounge is connected to the Patio and Terrace, which overflows in sunny weather. The chef highlights Victoria and Vancouver Island with local, seasonal ingredients in a wild west-coast style combined with Japanese infusion.

The hotel’s Victoria Athletic Club is second to none, with 500 local members and extensive facilities, including a 25-metre lap pool, sauna, steam room and fitness studio. As an independent hotel, the staff strive to provide superior guest experience.

Like the nearby Empress Hotel, the Grand Pacific serves Afternoon Tea. However, for this very popular British tradition, the hotel has incorporated a west-coast style by also including seafood. The hotel attracts locals with jazz or other live music two nights per week and also serves fondue specials in the winter.

Hotel Grand Pacific

Top rated
Victoria
8.9 Excellent (2978 reviews)

A Luxury Hotel with a Glorious Location

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The Inn on Laurel Point is situated at the mouth of the Inner Harbour right on the water facing the sunset, which silhouettes masts and reflects water in crimsons and flaming oranges. You can revel in watching  every imaginable watercraft, including float planes. The short walk from the head of the harbour to the 196-guest-room Inn is along a footpath through verdant greenery and once you arrive, the graceful lines of the building, created by the formidable architect Arthur Ericson, meld in with the six-acre grounds like a Scandinavian painting.

The previous owners bequeathed the Inn to a trust whose goal is to support the employees, who are extra-attentive to guests because, in effect, they own the Inn. You can dine and sip cocktails in the Aura restaurant, enjoy the gardens, which include a Japanese reflective pool, or wander the adjacent foot path to the Fisherman’s Market, a wharf bustling with restaurants, houseboats and fishermen. Furthermore, you will sleep better knowing that Laurel Point is Canada’s first and only carbon-neutral hotel.

Inn at Laurel Point

Top rated
Victoria
8.6 Excellent (2086 reviews)

Cocktails and Panoramic Views with a Rooftop Restaurant

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Located a short stroll from the harbour, the Chateau Victoria has two attractions, each of which make this hotel a rewarding and tasty place to overnight. Clive’s Classic Lounge is one of the best at serving memorable, creative cocktails and is credited for starting the mixology trend on Vancouver Island. To top it off, the Vista 18 West Coast Grill & Wine Bar is located on the top (18th) floor and is the only rooftop restaurant in Victoria. Vista 18 offers spectacular views of the harbor and surrounding city. Furthermore, the chef infuses delicious cuisine with local flavours and ingredients. You can practically see the farms from where the food is sourced. Jazz and live music are featured in the Lounge.

Privately owned, the hotel has 177 guest rooms, most of which are suites with walk-out balconies. There is also a swimming pool and an exercise room. A courtesy van, unique to hotels in the city centre, delivers guests to restaurants and other nearby destinations at no extra charge.

Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites

Top rated
Victoria
8.6 Excellent (2341 reviews)

Luxury with a Cookie

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Guests arriving at the 181-guest-room Doubletree Hilton are greeted with a mouth-watering, warm chocolate-chip cookie. Although a few blocks from the Inner Harbour, each room in the 17-storey tower has a balcony with unimpeded views of the city and the waterfront. Their unique program, My Car, my Stay, lets visitors drive their choice of two electric Solos or two hybrid Priuses during their stay, complete with valet parking. The tiny three-wheeled Solos (one person only) are a lot of fun.

The Doubletree has a breakfast and lunch restaurant, Table 21, on the entrance level. However, it is best known for Bartholomew’s, an English-style pub complete with wooden beams and a separate entrance. It draws a roaring trade of ale-quaffing customers even in the slow winter season and regularly wins the awards for Victoria’s best Caesar cocktail and fish & chips.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Victoria

Top rated
Victoria
8.9 Excellent (1358 reviews)

A Top Boutique Hotel

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Situated next to the business section a few short blocks from the Inner Harbour, the 64-guestroom, privately owned Magnolia boutique hotel focuses on top-quality service, which it provides by paying attention to details and having a higher staff to guest ratio than other hotels. A complimentary coffee/tea bar graces the lobby. The Spa at Magnolia is considered one of the best in the city and is much frequented by locals.

The Magnolia provides free-of-charge bicycles and, to ensure you see the best sights, also maps of hiking and biking trails, which it carefully curates. We would argue that the Magnolia’s best amenity is the Courtney Restaurant, one of the finest in Victoria. The executive chef presents French inspired seafood and steaks with an emphasis on local produce. Meat is dry aged on the premises and a professional forager provides wild edibles from the forest and seashore.

Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Top rated
Victoria
9.4 Excellent (1936 reviews)

Renovated Luxury

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Nestled in the heart of downtown just a few blocks from the bustling Inner Harbour, the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour is a full-service hotel with 236 guest-rooms in a 16-storey tower. An indoor pool is accompanied by a fitness centre and an outside courtyard. For those seeking a higher level, the hotel has the M Club with complimentary breakfast, all-day hors d’oeuvres and a private lounge.

Major renovations have recently been completed on the lobby, restaurant and ballroom, yielding a sleek modern look. Management feels the Marriott Inner Harbour consistently ranks above other brand hotels in overall guest service because they anticipate guest needs, providing a warm welcome and a home away from home. The restaurant, Fire and Water, focuses on steak and seafood, as the name suggests, but with a local twist.

Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour

Top rated
Victoria
8.8 Excellent (2009 reviews)