Last Wednesday I left Metro Vancouver and headed over to Vancouver Island to chase down a couple of the BC Liberal leadership front-runners on behalf of The Left Coast. While in Victoria I was put up in the “iconic” Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Walking into a hotel lobby like the Empress is like walking back in time; back in time to a more elegant and genteel time and place. A world in which style is all important. The Empress has grand feeling hallways with high arched doorways and intricately carved moldings. The carpet is heavily patterned and would look dated in any other building other than the Empress. Here, in the Empress it is beautiful.
The rooms have been nicely updated although the furniture maintains your feeling of being in a classic property. Large padded armchairs were a welcome respite after my day of traipsing around looking for politicians to corner and nab quotes from. Although the desk is also a heritage-style piece it worked perfectly as a work-station for me.
My complaint about the Empress is that like many other quality properties, they do not offer wireless internet in all rooms. They are currently working at adding wireless capability so that wireless access is available in all rooms (at charge). There is a network cable available on the desk in each room (with a cord long enough that you can sit in bed and surf the internet if you choose). The cost for internet access is close to $16 for 24 hours.
My other complaint about the Empress is that the washrooms in the rooms are terrible. Yes, they have marble tiling and granite vanity tops but if I was twenty pounds heavier than I am today I would have had a very difficult time positioning myself on the toilet next to the ancient looking yellow bathtub. And to reach the toilet paper if you are seated on the toilet is an act best left to professional contortionists.
However, the feeling of grandeur as you sit in your room or sit in the Empress lobby (where there is free internet for those people who belong to the Fairmont loyalty program) is wonderful. You can lay back in bed and look up at the ultra-tall walls and the ceiling so high above you and dream of your life as a multi-millionaire.
I have to admit that I am a sucker for heritage properties and will often overlook many of the faults that are inherent or unavoidable in these “iconic” properties. The Empress Hotel is so magnificent that when I travel to our capital city I always request the Empress. I will continue to do so.