Victoria, British Columbia, blends the quaint charm of old England with an active outdoor lifestyle. If a visit to this flower-loving city is in your future, here are four reasons why staying in a downtown hotel is your best bet.
High Tea at the Empress
Follow in the footsteps of kings, queens and movie stars as you indulge in an authentic English tea at the Empress’ tea lobby. Decadent scones with real clotted cream and potted jam share table space with smoked salmon sandwiches and finely decorated chocolates. All is served on fine china, with the specially blended tea poured from sterling silver tea services. A pianist serenades away the afternoon. The décor is reminiscent of the roaring twenties with potted palms, antique tables and overstuffed easy chairs.
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park has been part of the Victoria landscape since 1882. The 24.8-hectare (62 acre) site sits at the edge of downtown, only a block from the Royal British Columbia Museum. This is where you’ll find acres of flowers, tranquil ponds, a petting zoo and strutting peacocks. Horse-drawn carriages wander through the park, part of the carriage tours along Dallas Road and through the James Bay neighbourhood. The Dallas Road end of the park fronts the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Jog, bicycle or just bring a picnic and enjoy the view.
Old Town and Government Street
Old Victoria, known as Old Town, is in the heart of the capital city. Founded in 1843 as a trading post for Hudson Bay, it was originally called Fort Victoria. As the population increased, Victoria was rechristened as a town. Many of the old buildings are still standing, some of them serving as restaurants, pubs and quaint shops.
The oldest pub in the city, Garrick’s Head Pub, sits in Bastion Square, a pedestrian friendly zone that hosts an outdoor market from spring through fall. The square and the pub front Government Street, the trendy downtown shopping area. From spring through fall the City of Victoria hangs flower baskets from every light post in this part of town.Though you do have some of the name brand stores like The Bay, many of the outlets are specialty shops. It’s more like shopping in old time London than in British Columbia’s capital city. From spring through fall the City of Victoria hangs flower baskets from every light post in this part of town, adding to the rustic charm.
The Inner Harbour
On the western edge of Old Town is the Inner Harbour, a working port that is the main gathering place in the downtown core. From spring through fall the main promenade is filled with vendors selling food and handcrafted artwork. Buskers sing, dance and perform eye-popping feats. Restaurants, pubs, shops and hotels rim the harbour. You’ll find seaplanes touching down in mid-harbour, always managing to dodge the ferry and boat traffic. Getting around is easy. Just hop on one of the green and white Victoria Harbour Ferries. Shaped somewhat like a jelly bean, they make regularly scheduled stops at points around the harbour. Visiting between May and September? Find a spot along the promenade and watch the little ferries perform their weekend water ballet.
Staying in a downtown hotel puts the fun and charm of Victoria literally at your feet. Eat, drink, shop and be merry. That’s what vacation is all about. (For options on where to stay in the area, consider locations such as Anco Motel or another place)