Magazine article Sunset

Victoria Belongs to You Now

Magazine article Sunset

Victoria Belongs to You Now

Article excerpt

Explore B.C.'s capital city during the uncrowded off-season

If you've ever visited British Columbia's capital city in summer, you remember a Victoria swarming with tourists. Long lines of visitors queue up for tea at the Empress Hotel, and so many people pack the paths at The Butchart Gardens that it can be difficult to stop and smell the roses. But during the off-season (January through April), there are no lines. In addition, many shops put merchandise on sale, and clerks have time to fuss over customers. Hotels throughout the city offer seasonal discounts and packages that, coupled with the favorable rate of exchange for U.S. dollars, make Victoria a bargain. (All prices listed here are in Canadian dollars.)

Be sure to stop by the 1908 Empress Hotel overlooking the Inner Harbour, if for no other reason than to wander down its vast, wood-paneled halls and peek into the lavish public rooms and shops. In the Edwardian lobby, under portraits of King George V and Queen Mary, afternoon tea is served from 12:30 to 5 daily. This tea is actually a filling feast of crumpets, scones, assorted pastries, sandwiches, and fresh fruit; it costs $22 per person. If you'd like to spend the night in one of the hotel's newly refurbished rooms, the rate is $136, double occupancy, including your choice of afternoon tea, admission to The Butchart Gardens, or an evening visit to the lobby lounge to partake of Death by Chocolate, a dessert bar filled with delicacies like chocolate Kahlua cake and white chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis. For reservations, call (800) 441-1414.

At the Royal B.C. Museum, just across Belleville Street from the Empress, linger among the collections of art from the Northwest's native Haida, Kwakiutl, Salish, and Tlingit cultures. Without the summertime crowds, you can step back and view the giant cedar totems, masks, longhouse, clothing, baskets, and other artifacts that this museum is famous for. …

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