British Columbia’s elegant Fairmont Empress Hotel, located across from Victoria’s inner harbor, has completed the first phase of a $40 million restoration project. A new restaurant, bar, and 235 renovated guest rooms were unveiled in June 2016.
The Edwardian-style resort on Vancouver Island is adjacent to the Royal BC Museum, parliament buildings, and the convention center, and is home to world famous afternoon tea. Opened in 1908, the property is now being restored to its original grandeur.
In June 2016, the Fairmont unveiled its new guestrooms, reimagined by Hirsch Bedner to honor the hotel’s heritage and infuse a modern design. Classic moldings and fireplaces have been restored and the resort’s club level floor, the Fairmont Gold, added 20 new guestrooms for a total of 65 renovated rooms.
The new Lobby Lounge still offers the Empress’ signature afternoon tea as well as a champagne bar in the evening with live music. The space is now brighter than ever, with colors sourced from the Empress tea china design and lush plants that now decorate the room.
The new 88-seat Q at the Empress restaurant has a contemporary design with lots of natural light highlighting the cherry wood ceilings and detailed molding. The menu focuses on local seasonal ingredients and utilizes the resort’s own vegetable and herb garden. Guests can begin with sharable charcuterie and cheese plates as well as a wide selection from the seafood bar, including oysters, prawns, smoked salmon, octopus poke, Dungeness crab, and a seafood tower.
Standout dishes include a grilled avocado Caesar salad, roasted salmon with tomato jam, poached halibut with minted peas, brown butter-basted link cod with morels, crab tagliatelle, and a sunflower seed and faro risotto with pickled beets.
Desserts include a soufflé cheesecake with citrus blueberry compote, a blackberry clafoutis, and strawberries and cream. Q also offers a nice variety of local wines by the glass. In addition to dinner, the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch.