The grand style of the Fairmont Empress hotel sets the tone for Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where boats tie up just steps from the city’s most historic landmarks. Visiting the Fairmont Empress is not just for overnight guests; afternoon tea here has been a Victoria tradition for more than a century.
Most tours of historic Victoria include a stop at the Fairmont Empress, and visiting with a guide helps you learn about the hotel’s fascinating history, resident ghosts, and eccentric celebrity guests. If you’re exploring on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, the Empress is easy walking distance from other sights in the Inner Harbour.
For many visitors, afternoon tea at the Empress is the main event, an elegant affair that’s served to the tune of live grand piano music. Reservations are essential for afternoon tea, which includes sweet and savory finger foods alongside the hotel’s signature tea blends.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Though the afternoon tea dress code of “sophisticated, smart casual” is somewhat flexible, dressing up is part of the experience.
- Don’t write off afternoon tea if you hate Earl Grey. The hotel also offers a Champagne Tea for guests who prefer bubbles to brews.
- The feel in the lobby lounge is decidedly adult, but the finger foods on the Children’s Tea menu make things fun for families with children between 5 and 12 years old.
How to Get There
Much of the Inner Harbor is easily walkable, but there’s also public transit and parking near the Empress. For cruise ship passengers, Bus No. 2 in the Oak Bay direction offers frequent departures from the intersection of Dallas Road and Simcoe Street near the cruise terminal; get off at Douglas and Courtney Streets, where you’re a short walk from the hotel.
When to Get There
Tea is served between 11am and 4pm, with seatings on the quarter hour between 11am and 12pm, 1pm and 2pm, and 2pm and 3pm. When you make your reservation, keep in mind that you’ll only have one hour until the next guests arrive. Reservations are available through the hotel website.
Christmas at the Empress
The Fairmont Empress goes all-out for the holidays, with decorations and a festive menu throughout December. Select dates include traditional Christmas carols during afternoon tea. Check the website for schedules and menus if you’re planning a holiday outing.