The Empress Hotel is one of Canada’s most famous and beloved landmarks. Located in Victoria, British Columbia, the hotel has been a symbol of luxury, elegance, and hospitality since it first opened in 1908. Over the years, it has been the preferred destination for celebrities, royalty, and discerning travelers from around the world. But what makes the Empress Hotel so special? In this blog post, we will explore the history and significance of this iconic Canadian institution.
The Empress Hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) company as part of its plan to develop tourism in western Canada in the early 20th century. The hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury, a British architect who had previously worked on other CPR projects, including the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. Rattenbury chose a château-style architecture for the Empress Hotel, which was popularized in France during the late 19th century. The style emphasizes grandeur, symmetry, and ornamental details, and was a perfect fit for the ambitious project.
The construction of the Empress Hotel was a massive undertaking, involving hundreds of workers and the latest technologies of the time. It took over two years to complete, and the grand opening was held on January 20, 1908. The event was attended by dignitaries from across Canada, as well as the United States, Europe, and Asia. The Empress Hotel became an instant success, thanks to its luxurious amenities, fine dining, and impeccable service. It quickly became a hub for social and cultural events, and a popular destination for honeymooners, families, and business travelers.
The design of the Empress Hotel is one of its most distinctive features. The château-style architecture creates an imposing and majestic appearance, with steep roofs, turrets, balconies, and spires. The hotel is surrounded by lush gardens and overlooks the Inner Harbor, providing breathtaking views of the city and the ocean. The interiors are just as impressive, with lavish furnishings, decorative details, and artwork that reflect the elegance and sophistication of the Edwardian era.
One of the most famous spaces in the Empress Hotel is the Tea Lobby, where guests can enjoy afternoon tea with a view of the harbor. The Tea Lobby is adorned with hand-carved woodwork, stained glass windows, and ornate chandeliers that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Other notable spaces include the Bengal Lounge, a colonial-themed bar with a cozy fireplace and live music, and the Willow Stream Spa, a state-of-the-art wellness center that offers a wide range of treatments and amenities.
The Empress Hotel has played an important role in Canadian history and culture. It has hosted numerous important events and guests, including the British royal family, former US President Teddy Roosevelt, and famous writers such as Rudyard Kipling and Agatha Christie. It has also been featured in many movies and TV shows, including the popular series “Psych” and “Dead Like Me”.
In addition to its cultural impact, the Empress Hotel has also contributed to the local economy and community. It has employed thousands of people over the years, and has supported various charities and causes, such as the Victoria Symphony and the Canadian Cancer Society. The hotel is also committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, implementing practices that reduce its carbon footprint and preserve natural resources.
The Empress Hotel is an iconic Canadian institution that represents the best of hospitality and luxury. Its rich history, stunning design, and cultural significance have made it a beloved landmark that attracts visitors from all over the world. Whether you’re staying overnight, enjoying afternoon tea, or simply admiring the view, the Empress Hotel is a Canadian jewel that will always shine bright.
What is the significance of the Empress Hotel?
The Empress Hotel, located in Victoria, British Columbia, is a historic landmark with significant cultural and architectural importance. It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1908 as part of the company’s efforts to promote tourism in western Canada. The hotel is one of a series of grand Chateau-style hotels built by Canadian railway companies in the early 20th century, such as the Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Frontenac.
The Empress Hotel’s prominent location, overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour, has made it a popular destination for travelers from around the world. Its architectural style is inspired by the French Renaissance, with its grand archways, grand staircases, and ornate interiors. The hotel’s design reflects the elegance and luxury of the time when it was built, with its grand ballroom, tea room, and salons, making it a popular spot for weddings, conventions, and other special events.
The Empress Hotel has also played an important role in Canada’s history. During World War II, it was used as a base for the Canadian Navy’s Pacific fleet. It was also the location of a conference between the Canadian government and Indigenous leaders in 1969, known as the White Paper Conference, where the federal government proposed a new policy towards Indigenous peoples.
Today, the Empress Hotel is a designated National Historic Site of Canada and a symbol of Victoria’s rich history and culture. It has been renovated and modernized over the years while still maintaining its historical charm and elegance. Visitors can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea service in the hotel’s famous tea room, dine at one of its elegant restaurants, or simply marvel at the hotel’s stunning architecture and history. The Empress Hotel stands as a testament to Canada’s rich railway and architectural heritage and continues to be an important landmark for the tourism industry in western Canada.
Where do celebrities stay in Victoria BC?
Victoria, British Columbia is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, but also for famous celebrities looking for a quiet and luxurious getaway. When it comes to accommodations for these high-profile guests, there is no doubt that The Fairmont Empress is the top choice.
With its rich history and grandeur, The Fairmont Empress has long been a favorite of the rich and famous. Dignitaries, royalty, politicians and Hollywood A-listers have all called this iconic hotel their temporary home while visiting Victoria. Some of the most famous celebrities who have stayed at the Empress over the years include Katherine Hepburn, Roger Moore, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand and Harrison Ford, to name just a few.
Of course, it’s no surprise that these celebrities choose The Fairmont Empress for their stay in Victoria. This luxurious hotel, with its stunning architecture and world-class service, provides the perfect blend of elegance, comfort and privacy that celebrities are looking for. The hotel’s 464 rooms and suites are all exquisitely designed and appointed with every modern amenity, ensuring that guests can relax and unwind in style.
The Fairmont Empress is also home to a range of exceptional dining options, including the world-famous Afternoon Tea, which has been a tradition at the hotel for over 100 years. From the opulent lobby to the plush Victoria Lounge, the hotel exudes an air of timeless sophistication that is sure to impress even the most discerning guests.
While there are certainly many other luxury accommodations in Victoria that could appeal to celebrities, The Fairmont Empress remains the top choice. With its storied history, impeccable service, and opulent surroundings, it is no wonder that this hotel attracts the biggest names in Hollywood and beyond.
Did the Queen stay at the Empress?
Yes, the Queen did stay at The Empress hotel. In fact, it was a historical moment when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Victoria in 1939. They stayed at The Fairmont Empress during their cross-Canada Royal Tour. This was the first time in history that reigning monarchs had visited Victoria and stayed at The Fairmont Empress. It was such a significant event that it marked the beginning of The Empress being recognized as a symbol of Victoria itself. Furthermore, there is a ceremonial room named after Queen Elizabeth, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has also stayed during her “Royal Tours” of Canada. The Empress has had the honor of hosting several other royal visits, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2016. It seems fitting that The Fairmont Empress has been dubbed “the castle,” given its rich history of royal visits, and tangible links to the very notion of Victorian grandeur and the height of British hospitality. It remains one of the most iconic hotels in Canada, and a must-visit place for tourists, especially those interested in royal and Canadian history.
What is the famous mansion in Victoria BC?
One of the most iconic landmarks in Victoria, British Columbia is the Craigdarroch Castle. Built in the late 19th century, it is a shining example of a “bonanza castle” – massive houses constructed for entrepreneurs who became affluent during the industrial age. The castle is located at 1050 Joan Crescent, in the neighborhood of Rockland. This magnificent mansion is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and offers a breathtaking view of the city below.
The construction of Craigdarroch Castle began in 1887, and it took nearly four years to complete. The name Craigdarroch is derived from the Gaelic language and means “rocky knoll”. Craigdarroch Castle was built for Robert Dunsmuir, a wealthy Scottish immigrant, who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. Unfortunately, Dunsmuir did not live long enough to enjoy his stunning mansion. He died in 1889, just one year after the construction was completed and only a few months before the castle was ready for occupancy.
After Dunsmuir’s death, his widow Joan Dunsmuir and her second husband moved into the property and added various luxuries to the mansion, including the grand ballroom and numerous fireplaces. They also created a lavish garden surrounding the castle. When Joan Dunsmuir passed away in 1908, the property was sold to the University of Victoria, and it was used as a military college, a school for nurses, and later as the Victoria Conservatory of Music. In 1978, the castle was opened to the public, and it has since become a popular tourist attraction.
Today, Craigdarroch Castle is meticulously maintained and restored, showcasing the Victorian-era architecture, interior design, and life of the Dunsmuir family. The castle features a 39-room mansion that includes eight fireplaces, a stunning oak staircase, stained-glass windows, intricate woodwork, and beautiful artwork. Visitors can take a self-guided tour where they can experience the family’s luxurious lifestyle and enjoy the lavish rooms. Moreover, they can learn about the castle’s history and explore the exhibits that showcase the estate’s past.
The Craigdarroch Castle is undoubtedly a must-visit destination when touring Victoria, British Columbia. It is a beautiful and intriguing historic landmark with a rich history. It is a breathtaking example of stunning Victorian architecture combined with intricate woodwork and magnificent artwork, making it a prominent attraction in Victoria and a testament to Canadian history.