Last week, Tor and I were invited to stay at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Growing up nearby in Vancouver and having been to the city several times for filming, Tor was extremely eager to bring me to Victoria. The one spot he knew I’d love would be the Fairmont Empress, which adds to the royal history of the city. He wasn’t wrong – I absolutely loved it!
Look 1: Lela Rose dress (old, similar here and similar less expensive version here), Raye heels c/o Revolve, Chanel bag, Celine sunglasses, Stila lipstick
Look 2: Yumi Kim dress c/o, Gap denim jacket (old, similar here and here), Kaanas sandals, Gucci bag (similar version here)
The Fairmont Empress recently celebrated its grand reopening the week before we arrived. For the last two years, it underwent a grand renovation and restoration. Tor always remembered the hotel to be covered in ivy, so when we pulled up he was in awe that all the ivy had been removed to show off the hotel underneath. While the restoration meant there were many changes done to the interior and exterior such as the lobby, restaurant, and the guest rooms, what didn’t change was how grand it remained through its service and ambience.
The hotel opened in 1908 and was named after Queen Victoria, who was also Empress of India (hence the name Fairmont Empress). I was very excited to see portraits of Queen Victoria inside the hotel at Q at the Empress, as I have studied and loved British royal history for years. The royal connection continues further, as several kings and queens have called the Fairmont Empress home during their visits to Vancouver Island including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and Prince Charles and Camilla. It has even hosted Winston Churchill. Since most of you know I can’t get enough of Netflix’s The Crown, these facts are certainly part of what attracted me to visit the Fairmont Empress.
The royal touch extends into the recently restored lobby lounge, where the Fairmont Empress’ world famous afternoon tea is served. This was the experience Tor has been wanting to take me to for years. He knows how much I love afternoon tea and how I pretty much have it daily while in Europe, so it made me giddy that I got to have the experience in Canada.
As soon as we sat down and read the menu, Tor couldn’t stop laughing because my smile became pretty obnoxiously happy. We were presented a menu of afternoon teas to select from with the appropriate dried tea leaves inside. Immediately I noticed a rose tea, and then my royal history loving heart fluttered when I saw it happened to be Princess Diana’s favorite tea. Done! That was going to be my tea for the afternoon, which shocked Tor because despite loving afternoon tea service and experience…. I actually don’t like tea! I usually order hot chocolate, but this time I wanted to really try the rose tea. It was certainly light and floral, and felt very much like a Princess’ tea.
The menu also included some items that is served to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, such as the Coronation Chicken. Despite being in Canada and not my typical London, I felt the most royal connection at this afternoon tea than I had before in Europe. I can see why Tor was anxious to take me here and why a lot of you all were telling me I had to experience it!
After a delightful afternoon tea service, we were invited by Chef Kaeleb up to Fairmont Empress’ exclusive rooftop garden where they grow all of their own herbs, greens, and more. I had major garden envy, as I would love to be able to grow my own food! It’s pretty much farm to table at Fairmont Empress – or, should I say, roof to table. They also house their own bees through the summer, and that’s where they get their fresh honey. We didn’t go see the bees because I’ve had a few pretty bad experiences with bees thus I am terrified of them, but it was exciting to hear that they do beekeeping too.
After a stroll with the chef, we then went on to explore the hotel’s gorgeous rose garden. Again, I had major garden envy here. Garden roses of peach, pink, white, red, and bright purple colors surrounded us with the Fairmont Empress regally standing tall in the background.
While we didn’t get the chance to experience the Fairmont Empress’ new swimming pool and renovated spa, it was great to know those were just right downstairs had we gotten the chance to stay a bit longer. However, we did get to have some drinks at Q Bar (“Q” for “queen”, of course), which overlooks Victoria Harbor as well as has floor to ceiling artistic portraits of Queen Victoria, the hotel’s namesake. Everywhere you turn in the hotel you’re reminded of royalty, and for someone who loves British royalty, this felt like home to me.
If you ever get the chance to visit Victoria on Vancouver Island, I highly recommend a visit to the Fairmont Empress. Even if you don’t get the chance to stay overnight, you really should don your afternoon best go to the hotel for their famous tea service.
I’ll always cherish our royal stay at the Fairmont Empress. Hearing horse drawn carriages outside of our window in the same building that has hosted a handful of famous kings, queens, and princes will always be an experience I will never forget.
Thanks to the Fairmont Empress for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own.