The Fairmont Olympic, Seattle, Washington, and the Fairmont Empress, Victoria, British Columbia, are two iconic and historic Pacific Northwest luxury hotels that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Due to their proximity and the myriad of transportation options between Seattle and Victoria, it is simple to visit both. You can take the fast ferry, hop aboard a float plane, or fly commercial air. Both hotels are in walkable areas making it easy to see all the sights. These luxurious hotels are destinations in their own right so you may not want to leave your lodging. Enjoy unique, upscale experiences that can only be found at the Fairmont.
This trip was a press trip hosted by Fairmont Hotels.
3 Best Experiences At The Fairmont Empress
The Fairmont Empress Hotel has welcomed guests for over 100 years. The traditions of old-world hospitality carry on today with long-term employees, many of whom have worked at the Empress for more than 20 years. Many families have a tradition of employment at the hotel with multiple generations starting their work careers at the Empress. This leads to a continuity of service rarely seen today. The hotel is located conveniently next to the Royal BC Museum and across the street from the Inner Harbor. You can take a seaplane from Seattle, land, and then walk across the street to the hotel. I arrived by commercial air and transportation was a breeze.
The hotel is a mix of historic features with modern conveniences that create an atmosphere of indulgence. I checked into a luxury suite with a stunning view of the harbor and vowed to take advantage of every feature and activity offered by the hotel. The suite offered Le Labo’s Rose 31 toiletries in the Fairmont signature scent. It has such a cult following that you can purchase them in the Fairmont store. Here are some of my favorite things from my stay.
High Tea At the Fairmont Empress
There are other high teas in Victoria, but none have the panache and history of the high tea enjoyed at the Empress. This iconic tea service has been offered for over 100 years in the elegant lobby lounge. The reputation for flawless service is well earned. Long-term employees such as Marlene who has served tea for over 53 years ensure that tradition and quality are maintained. High tea is an extravaganza rich in tradition. Begin by reviewing the tea book with Fairmont’s exclusive LOT 35 luxury tea. It lists all the teas offered and guests can view samples of the teas and see the ingredients. The menu varies seasonally but always includes the Empresses’ iconic scones with clotted cream and jams.
The towering tea caddies arrive at your table jammed full of savory sandwiches and yummy sweets. Take the time to savor this experience and enjoy the ambiance of the Empress. Lush plants and comfy furniture create intimate spaces or sit at a table. This is the time to break out your favorite hat or fascinator. Truly a one of a kind experience.
Splurge On Fairmont Gold At The Empress
The Fairmont Gold level at the Empress is like a boutique hotel within the larger hotel. Enjoy private check-in and a concierge. The lounge has well-thought-out spaces to dine and comfy furniture to lounge. Enjoy a decadent breakfast buffet in the morning with your favorite hot and cold items. I ate the buttery, flaky croissants every morning. All through the day different snacks and treats are offered. The iconic Empress scones with clotted cream and jam are served early afternoon with a choice of Fairmont’s exclusive new LOT 35 tea developed specifically for the hotel’s tea program. During happy hour, enjoy hot and cold canapes and an honor bar for cocktails or wine. If the weather is nice, step out onto a spectacular veranda to watch the sunset over the harbor. Firepits and blankets are available for chilly evenings. Lastly, stop in before bed for desserts.
The Willow Stream Spa
The Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress is an oasis of peace. Check in 30 minutes early for your appointment to enjoy the spa amenities. Guests are advised to use the steam room, sauna, and mineral pool before their treatment. Relax in the lounge before indulging in one of the many treatments. I experienced the Empress 1908 Experience which included a full exfoliating body scrub followed by a massage. The treatment is designed so you don’t have to get off the table, allowing complete relaxation. I had the opportunity to preview this treatment, which will soon be added to the spa menu. Based on the reaction of everyone in our group, it was a hit.
Travel Between Victoria, British Columbia, And Seattle, Washington
What is unique about traveling between these two destinations is the stunning natural beauty of the area. The transportation is more like a tour. Whether you travel via air or sea you will see the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan De Fuca, the Puget Sound, and so much more. I live in Western Washington and consider it one of the most beautiful destinations I have ever been to. So when traveling between the two hotels, enjoy the journey.
Taking A Seaplane From Victoria To Seattle
I traveled to Seattle with Kenmore Air on a seaplane. What an incredible experience. We departed from the Seaplane Terminal to fly to Seattle. The flight was so scenic due to the planes flying at a lower altitude than large commercial aircraft. This lower altitude allows for stunning views from the air. We viewed some of the islands of Puget Sound. The water appears so close we could have seen the famed Orca pods which are often spotted in the area but alas it wasn’t to be. As we approached the Seattle skyline, our group saw the Space Needle. Landing on Lake Union was so exciting. It was a rare, sunny, fall day. We observed crew teams practicing in the lake and sailboats passing as we approached. Landing on the water was so exciting! Lake Union is where the houseboat from the movie Sleepless in Seattle is at.
Taking The Victoria Clipper Ferry From Seattle To Victoria
The only direct fast ferry between Seattle and Victoria, BC, is the Victoria Clipper (FRS Clipper company). The Victoria Clipper is a sleek catamaran that whisks visitors between Seattle and Victoria in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Vacation packages are available, which include accommodation at the Fairmont Empress. This beautiful ride gives you two harbor cruises. You’ll see all the sights of the Seattle waterfront then enjoy lovely Victoria Harbor on your voyage. Although not a whale-watching trip, guests often see a variety of whales in Puget Sound. The company offers three classes of service and note within each class you will pay additional fees for the panoramic window seats.
3 Best Experiences At The Fairmont Olympic
The Fairmont Olympic in Seattle is a gorgeous historic hotel dating back to 1924. It recently underwent an extensive renovation that remained true to its historic heritage while giving it a modern refresh which created stunning public spaces. The hotel is in a prime Seattle location within walking distance of Pike’s Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum.
Attend A Special Event At The Fairmont Olympic
Throughout the year, the Fairmont Olympic offers special events, many of which take place near the holidays. At Christmas, enjoy the famed Teddy Bear Suite with its hundreds of snuggle-friendly teddy bears of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy special holiday meals at the hotel’s restaurants.
I had the opportunity to attend “Tea Noir,” an upscale event that debuted at the Fairmont Olympic. Designed to celebrate the rich history and vibrant tea culture of the area, this glamorous event provided the perfect opportunity to dress to impress. The eight-course menu was a delightful twist on high tea. The evening included tea-infused cocktails and live entertainment. Such an incredible event. Tickets sold out in less than a week. This is the first of Fairmont’s Beyond Limits, a series of extraordinary events that will take place at Fairmont Hotels in North and Central America throughout 2023 and redefine the luxury experience to a whole new level of exclusivity.
Experience The Founders Club At The Fairmont Olympic
Reservations are a must at the exclusive Founders Club. This intimate space was inspired by prohibition speakeasy culture and holds 30 guests. First-time visitors will feel their anticipation build as they access the Founders Club through a hidden entrance behind a bookcase door. They step into an enclave enveloped in deep, rich wood and polished brass which sets a moody atmosphere. Dim lighting and plush furniture create an intimate atmosphere. Alcoves in the walls hold hand-selected spirits. Lovers of aged, limited edition whiskeys, scotch, and other libations will be enthralled with the choices.
Sleep In and Enjoy Breakfast In Your Room
After a long night enjoying the dining and bars at the Fairmont, sleep in and enjoy breakfast in your room. I love room service at an upscale hotel. Don fluffy, Fairmont robes and laze around while enjoying a hot breakfast in your room. To me, the epitome of luxury is breakfast in my pajamas with no need to rush. With an 11 a.m. checkout, there is plenty of time to relax before moving on.