Many Hats of Me: Exploring Downtown Victoria BC: Empress Hotel and the Soda Shoppe

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exploring Downtown Victoria BC: Empress Hotel and the Soda Shoppe

A Family Trip to Victoria, B.C.


Last summer during my visit to Vancouver, my family took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia by ferry boat. Our ship left Vancouver at 9 AM and we arrived at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal at 10:30 AM. From there, the drive to Victoria is about 1/2 an hour.  

Parking Options Downtown Victoria


There are two options to park in downtown Victoria: metered parking and indoor parkades. Metered parking allows you to park from 1/2 an hour to 90 minutes during the week. Weekends and statutory holidays are free.

We parked at the Victoria Central Public Library parking lot located next to the library at 735 Broughton Street. The map below is the address of the central library. Parkade parking allows you to park for a longer period of time at a central location.

This particular parking lot is FREE on the weekend too. Just make sure you press the button for a ticket to release the parking gate. When we tried parking on a Sunday, it took 10 minutes to figure out how to open the parking gate without paying with our credit card. More information about Victoria parking is located at the cities' parking website.




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Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC



Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background
Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background






It's hard to imagine that before the Empress Hotel was built, this entire inner harbor was a mudflat filled with garbage. Since the land was soggy mud, no buildings or proper streets could be built in the area. Over time, the locals began to dump their garbage in the harbor. It was stinky and ugly and by the late 1800's, a health hazard. The city decided to fill in the mud flats and asked the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company to built their hotel there instead of another location in Victoria. In 1908, the Empress Hotel was opened to the public and has been a Victoria landmark ever since. 



Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
BC Legislative building is in the background

Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC
Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC


Walkway to the Empress Hotel
Walkway to the Empress Hotel 


hydrangeas at the empress hotel
Pink, purple and blue hydrangea bushes decorate the Empress Hotel's grounds.

Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel


The Tea Lobby at the Empress Hotel has been serving its famous afternoon tea since the hotel's doors opened. In fact, the hotel serves and average of 130,000 guests afternoon tea every year! 



Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu
Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu



The Tea Room serves a variety of pastries and sandwiches that are prepared in-house. The restaurant also serves a variety of loose leaf teas, including its own blend, the Empress Tea.



Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior




Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Sadly, the Tea Lobby was already closed for the day, so we were unable to experience the Afternoon Tea at the Empress.

The Empress Afternoon Tea starts at 12 PM and ends at 2:45 PM. It costs $50/adult and $25/child. Seniors receive a $20 discount during the year except Spring and Summer. 


The Soda Shoppe


Since we missed tea, we walked across the street to the 1950's style diner, the Soda Shoppe, located at  801 Government Street. One-half of the restaurant serves hot dogs, sundaes, floats, and coffees; the other half is an ice cream parlor. Although the flavors offered were a bit mundane, the locally sourced ice cream pleased both grandma and children alike.


Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC street view
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe ice cream parlor
Soda Shoppe Ice Cream Parlor

Soda Shoppe Victoria BC waffle cones
Grandma and grandson enjoying a waffle cone



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