Bengal Lounge – Empress Hotel, Victoria, B.C. (Canada)

While in Victoria, we stayed in a very popular and touristy section right along the harbor next to the British Columbia Parliament building. Our hotel was called The Embassy Inn. A seemingly very old hotel and the only hotel I’ve ever stayed at, that I can remember, that had serious water pressure. You know, it seems like almost all hotels have a lack of water pressure in the shower . . . not this one. shower head pressureNo matter how long I wanted to stay and enjoy a free-water shower; it seemed like I was almost forced to take it swiftly, because it only took a moment to get through the wet, soap and rinse cycles. I was done in just moments. Not only was the shower head the old-school high-volume type >>2.5 gpm (>> = far greater), all of the fixtures seemed a bit antiquated. Don’t get me wrong, the room was decent and the location perfect, just was a bit dated. The morning we left I noticed a note placed in the elevator asking  for customer’s patience while the door locks were being changed out the day of our departure (Monday morning). Now I mentioned the antiquated fixtures, but the old-school door locks with heavy-duty keys were being replaced to allow for the new-school credit-card-cyphered entrance locks. As we checked out, I placed the heavy key, stamped with the room number, on the counter and said to the counter person, “I guess you won’t be needing these any more”. He looked at the key for just a moment then replied, “yeah, I guess you’re right”. So I asked him for one of the keys as a souvenir. He laughingly obliged, since there was really no use for them after our stay. keyAnother plus for The Embassy Inn was the free-included morning breakfast buffet that included two eggs any style or premade scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, potatoes (country style), juice and coffee. It was a nice change from the ordinary “continental” offerings offered by most hotels.

We walked around town for a bit as it was now late afternoon on a Sunday, seemingly there was really nothing to do. We stopped in a couple of pubs (British pubs were everywhere) and had a couple of beers and cocktails. Their alcohol pours were very modest and seemingly never over poured (a speed pour or spilling the over-poured shot glass) or free poured. It was later explained to my wife and I, that the Canadian regulation was very restrictive on the amount of alcohol poured at bars and pubs. “Nothing like the way they make drinks in the States”, one bartender said. As our early evening walk continued (about 9pm and it was still light out), we decided to walk into the premier and historic hotel of Victoria. I was told that they will let you go into the lobby area and it was a must see. Similar to the Hotel Del Coronado, in San Diego, CA (City of Coronado), built in 1888; the Empress Hotel offers similar luxury accommodations, unparalleled  craftsmanship and beauty in every detail of this 1908-built super-structure.empress

Once inside The Empress, we were greeted and told the best walk to see the restaurants menus and lounge area is along the 2nd floor promenade. One of the restaurants even had Foie Gras. I was dying to order some, but we were not looking to engage in that affair, since it was starting to get late. We later settled for a take-out specialty pizza from another hotel, to take to our room. Along the promenade were multiple boutiques and restaurant offerings from which to chose. We ended up in the Bengal Lounge and had a very engaging discussion with the bar’s service conversationalists and mixologists, David and Alison. They told us stories, gave us touring suggestions and kept our drinks full, (the best martini’s in town), although still observing the BC careful pour restrictions. I had to try an Empress 1908 martini. It was made with Empress Blend 1908 Tea infused vodka, lemon juice and frothed egg whites. It even came with an afternoon tea biscuit. David and Alison were very nice and kept us amused and entertained.

Overall, our trip to Victoria ended nicely. Now I can cross that off from the “bucket list”.



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