Just a 90-minute ferry ride from mainland Canada, Victoria is the gateway city to Vancouver Island. It’s home to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens and Royal BC Museum. Stroll past the colorful Fisherman’s Wharf, dotted with float homes, and watch the seaplanes land at Inner Harbour. Stay a few days before exploring the rest of Vancouver Island.
While the rest of Canada shivers in the cold, Victoria holds its annual flower count in February. Hanging baskets perfume the ocean breezes around the Inner Harbour and planters burst with blooms in front of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and downtown restaurants. Enjoy a stay at the finest boutique hotels in Victoria.
Abigail’s Hotel straddles the line between a boutique hotel and a heritage bed and breakfast. It features 23 beautifully decorated rooms inside a 1930s Tudor mansion, which sits three blocks from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and downtown area. Opt for a Rose or Emerald room for your own relaxing fireplace. The hotel is a four-star, adults-only property with a 24-hour library lounge, free parking and complimentary appetizers served from 4:30pm to 6pm daily.
If you’re looking for one of Victoria’s highest-rated hotels, then book the luxury Magnolia Hotel, just minutes from the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. The 64 rooms are all classically styled with deluxe duvet-topped beds, deep soaker tubs and Nespresso machines as standard. Highlights include the on-site spa, offering arguably the best facials on the island, and The Courtney Room restaurant – try the chef’s seasonal tasting menu for the best West Coast cuisine.
Hotel Rialto’s heritage building was originally constructed in 1911. It’s been totally renovated inside, complete with Italian fresco walls, marble fittings and modern decor. Hotel Rialto has 51 guest rooms, which include king and queen rooms, as well as suites. Enjoy access to a fitness center two blocks away; a voucher for a complimentary cheese plate at Veneto Tapa Lounge, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant; complimentary continental breakfast; and access to downtown Victoria’s largest liquor store, which sits in the hotel’s lobby.
The Parkside Hotel & Spa is a completely carbon-neutral hotel, featuring a three-story green roof atrium and charging stations for electric vehicles. Every room in this all-suite hotel has its own kitchen, balcony and fireplace, plus there are specific pet-friendly rooms. Enjoy a Swedish massage at the spa, take a dip in the on-site pool or drop by the movie theater that shows films three times per day.
A historic Edwardian hotel, the James Bay Inn is Victoria’s third-oldest hotel, having been in operation since 1911. The inn’s accommodation options include standard hotel rooms, studios and suites, and even a two-bedroom private cottage. Tuck into casual fare at the JBI Café, which serves up classics such as burgers and fish and chips. Finish the day with a pint of local ale in the JBI Pub, a favorite with locals.
The four-star Oswego Hotel is a popular boutique accommodation, close to the Inner Harbor. Choose from one- or two-bedroom suites; go premium for panoramic ocean and mountain views from your private balcony. Start your day with a hot brew from Foglifters Coffee Roasters in the downstairs Bar 500. Come nightfall, they serve Italian-inspired dishes, including house-made pasta with chickpeas, tomato and chili broth, marinated soft egg, scallions, peashoots. Pets are welcome at the hotel, too – the hotel will even provide a bed, bowl and organic treats.
Located directly on the water, Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel & Suites has views of the Inner Harbour, the BC Parliament Buildings and the Olympic Mountains. Inside, you’ll have the choice of standard king rooms, as well as one- and two-bedroom suites, and penthouse suites. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to flood in, balconies come as standard, while the suites include fully equipped kitchens, too. Free parking is available, plus they have their own golf concierge who can arrange transport to the nearest course.
Debra Smith contributed additional reporting to this article.