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May 29, 2006 11:59 PM

Victoria Fairmount Empress Hotel

  • k

Hi there,

I will be visiting Victoria in 2 weeks. Just wondering if it is worth experiencing the Afternoon Tea at Victoria Fairmount Empress Hotel. The travel book recommends it, and we know it's definitely not cheap. Can someone helps us fill in some details please?

Thanks very much.

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  1. If you're visiting from afar and doesn't get to Victoria often, I'd say it's worth it. If not for the bragging rights alone.

    It is overpriced (by Canadian standard) but worth the money if you enjoy the afternoon tea tradition.

    On the other hand, London(UK) hotels' afternoon teas are outrageously overpriced by comparison.

    7 Replies
    1. re: yummytummy

      Thank you. Do you know approx. the price range?

      We are from Toronto, and this is the first time we visit BC, so most likely we'll give it a try.

      1. re: KaKa

        I would recommend that you take a "walk-by" while others are having the high-tea before you make a final decision. Last year the price per person top $40 Canadian for the high tea. The issue I have is that the tea is served in a lobby/lounge type area where the public can walk by while you're eating. There is also often a line of people who are waiting to take your seat so there is a weird feeling of pressure while you're enjoying your experience.

        1. re: islandgirl


          I definitely agree with your assessment and recommendation.

          Although my wife and I head out to Victoria two or three times a year we usually steer well clear of the "old Gal".

          This past February we decided to walk through the hotel and passed what you have described. Pretty sad.

          1. re: Bob Mac

            Hi BobMac
            Have to agree, the Empress doesn't seem to a great option.
            Perhaps Rosemede {sp?} near Victoria does Teas?

            Can't suggest any up here in Nanaimo either.


            1. re: David

              Hi there David

              The Rosemeade certainly is in a beautiful location. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner there in February.

      2. re: yummytummy

        I loved it!!! It is pricey, but so much fun.....if you are into that sort of thing. There are so many celebrities there, unreal...... The tea and biscuits are delicious and we were stuffed...they give you a small box of their special blend tea as a parting is the best tea I've ever had....enjoy!

        1. re: yummytummy

          Just FYI the Rosemeade doesn't do afternoon tea (I just called them)

        2. As pretty as the Empress is, I instead decided to just walk around the hotel and then go to the White Heather Tea Room instead. It's not fancy, but you definitely get value for your money. I heard Point Ellice is interesting too, but they weren't open for the season at that time. Buchart Gardens also serves a tea which is pricier, but you get to do it amongst all the flowers.


          2 Replies
          1. re: anonymoose

            Thank you for your suggestion. From what I read on your link, White Heather Tea Room does seem to be worthwhile for a visit. I'll give it a try when I get there in 2 weeks.

            1. re: anonymoose

              Has anyone been to Point Ellice House for their tea recently? I went once about 5 years ago and was very impressed but I then read they changed hands and weren't as good.

            2. I agree that the Empress is over-rated and expensive. Victoria has some really quaint tea houses. The one I like is the Windsor tea house in Oak Bay. It's is very reasonable and homey - mismatched china etc. The Empress is worth a visit tho, just to see the hotel and grounds. Have a great trip!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Allison

                you better hurry if you want to go there, the Oak Bay is slated for demolition soon!

              2. My wife and I stopped in Vancouver/Victoria at the tail-end of an Alaskan cruise. We made reservations a few months in advance. Unfortunately, our transportation was a tour bus which wouldn't get us to town until 4:30 p.m. and our reservation was at 3:45, so we made an arrangement with the driver: We would leave Buchart Gardens early and take a local shuttle into town, and catch up with the tourbus for the ride back. It was 95 at the gardens and the sun was unbearable. We missed the shuttle and took a local "express" bus instead. We made it to the Empress just in time. Our table wasn't ready, and the hostess, noticing that my wife was beet-red and fearing heatstroke, invited us to wait in the library(which it turns out is the ONLY air-conditioned room in the hotel). She couldn't have been nicer. After a bit of waiting, we got our table. We each chose a tea, and because of the heat factor, asked if the teas were available iced. They all were, so she had a darjeeling blend and I had jasmine. The sandwiches, scones and other pastries were all great, especially the caramel almond poundcake. They also gave us a couple of tins of teabags. This is one of the best tea services I've ever had, rivaled only by the Four Seasons in Las Vegas and the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles. Kudos to Jennifer, paz, and the rest of the staff at the Empress for making us feel special.

                posted by calabasas_trafalgar on Jul 27, 2006 9:16 AM

                1 Reply
                1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                  Of course there are cheaper places to have tea, but nothing can really compare to having tea at the Empress. Don't have lunch -- there is lots to eat. Or make this a very late lunch. The atmosphere and service and tea/food are of course wonderful if you like little tea sandwiches, scones, etc. The price is absolutely outrageous, so the penny-wise may not enjoy themselves.

                2. Personally, the tea at the Empress Hotel was one of the highlights of my Alaska cruise 2 weeks ago. It is truly elegant and worth every penny in my opinion. The hotel itself is gorgeous and very traditional and the tea room is beautiful. I don't agree that people watch you eat, there was no waiting line when we were there as a cruise excursion. The tea pavillion was open to all with reservations and our group just took up a few tables set for 6. I'm not a tea drinker but that tea was definitely the best I've ever tasted - very aromatic and bold. The sandwiches, scones, strawberries, desserts, were fabulous - definitely more than I expected both in quality and quantity.

                  Victoria is beautiful but if you have never been there, you haven't really experienced it unless you "do" tea at the elegant Empress Hotel. I'll be back!!

                  Southern California girl.