The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

When most folks picture the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, one of the most iconic images that will inevitably come to mind is the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Oftentimes known simply as The Empress, the hotel first opened its doors on January 20, 1908, making it one of the oldest hotels in the province. And in 1989, they added the Victoria Conference Centre, where GottaCon 2014 was held this past weekend.

Given this convenience, it only made sense that we stayed at the Empress Hotel for our time in Victoria. We didn’t get the chance to indulge in the $50 (or so) afternoon tea, which can apparently book up weeks in advance, but we did get to stay in one of the most historic hotels in the region. While there is undoubtedly a sense of Victorian high society that permeates the entirety of the Empress, the hotel rooms themselves certainly show their age as well.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

Some people may appreciate this kind of charm, especially since the rooms have very high ceilings and are in sharp contrast to the stark modernity of places like the Four Points Sheraton in New York. Other people may find that the old carpet and hallways have an “old” smell to them. That being said, the rooms do come with the modern conveniences that you’d expect from a contemporary hotel like the in-room coffee maker (a Keurig, no less), a flat panel TV, and both wired and wireless Internet. Indeed, if you sign up for the (free) President’s Club ahead of time, the daily Internet access fee gets waived and you can use the wireless on multiple devices.

If this was just some other “old” hotel like The Quad Las Vegas, the “old” aspects of the Empress might bother me a little more, particularly at the $200 or so nightly rate. But, this is the Empress, a hotel that has hosted royalty like Prince Edward in 1919 and King George VI in 1939, as well as celebrities like Shirley Temple in the 1930s. And the location can’t get much better.

Image credit: Bobak Ha’Eri / Wikipedia