The luxurious Fairmont Hotels experience that allows guests to visit two countries

Fairmont Olympic, Seattle, Washington and Fairmont Empress, Victoria, British Columbia, are two iconic and historic Pacific Northwest luxury hotels that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Because of their proximity and the myriad of transportation options between Seattle and Victoria, visiting both is easy. You can take the fast ferry, hop aboard a float plane or fly commercial air. Both hotels are located in walkable areas, making it easy to see all the sights. These luxury hotels are destinations in themselves, so you may not want to leave your accommodation. Enjoy unique, exclusive experiences only found at Fairmont.

This trip was a press trip hosted by Fairmont Hotels.

Fairmont Empress scones

A view of the Fairmont Empress’ iconic scones with clotted cream and homemade jam.

Image credit: Peggy Cleveland

3 best experiences at the Fairmont Empress

The Fairmont Empress Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 100 years. The traditions of old-fashioned hospitality continue 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 several generations starting their working careers with the Empress. This leads to a continuity of service rarely seen today. The hotel is conveniently located 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 flight and transportation was a breeze.

The hotel is a blend 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 Fairmont’s signature fragrance. It has such a cult following that you can buy them at 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 high tea that the Empress has had. This iconic tea service has been offered for over 100 years in the elegant lobby lounge. The reputation for faultless service is well deserved. Long-term employees like Marlene, who has been serving tea for over 53 years, ensure that tradition and quality are maintained. High tea is an extravaganza rich in tradition. Start by reviewing the tea book with Fairmont’s exclusive LOT 35 luxury teas. It displays all the teas on offer and guests can see samples of the teas and see the ingredients. The menu varies seasonally, but always includes the Empress’s iconic scones with clotted cream and jam.

The towering tea containers arrive at your table full of savory sandwiches and delicious sweets. Take your time to enjoy this experience and soak up the atmosphere of the Empress. Lush plants and comfortable furniture create intimate spaces or sitting at a table. This is the time to break out your favorite hat or fascinator. Truly a unique 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 dining areas and comfortable furniture for the lounge. Enjoy a decadent breakfast buffet in the morning with hot and cold favourites. I ate buttery, flaky croissants every morning. Various snacks and treats are offered throughout the day. The iconic Empress scones with clotted cream and jam are served in the early afternoon with a selection of Fairmont’s exclusive new LOT 35 teas developed especially for the hotel’s tea program. During happy hour you can enjoy hot and cold canap├ęs and an honorary bar for cocktails or wine. If the weather is nice, step out onto the spectacular veranda to watch the sunset over the harbour. Fireplaces and blankets are available for chilly evenings. Finally, 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 before your appointment to enjoy the spa facilities. Guests are advised to use the steam room, sauna and mineral pool before the treatment. Relax in the salon 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 that you do not have to leave the table, which provides 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.

View from the seaplane

The view from the seaplane upon landing in Lake Union

Image credit: Peggy Cleveland

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 transport is more like a trip. Whether you travel by air or sea, you’ll see the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of Juan De Fuca, the Puget Sound and much more. I live in western Washington and consider it one of the most beautiful destinations I have ever been to. So when you travel between the two hotels, enjoy your journey.

Take a seaplane from Victoria to Seattle

I traveled to Seattle with Kenmore Air on a seaplane. What an incredible experience. We left the seaplane terminal to fly to Seattle. The flight was so scenic because of the planes flying at a lower altitude than large commercial planes. This lower elevation provides fantastic views from the air. We saw some of the islands in Puget Sound. The water looks so close that we could have seen the famous Orca pods that are often spotted in the area, but unfortunately it was not 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 autumn 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 is Sleepless in Seattle is at

Take the Victoria Clipper ferry from Seattle to Victoria

The only direct high speed ferry between Seattle and Victoria, BC is the Victoria Clipper (FRS Clipper company). The Victoria Clipper is an elegant catamaran that takes visitors between Seattle and Victoria in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Vacation packages are available, which include overnight stays at the Fairmont Empress. This beautiful tour gives you two harbor cruises. You’ll see all of Seattle’s waterfront sights and then enjoy the beautiful Victoria Harbor on your journey. Although not a whale watching tour, guests often see a variety of whales in Puget Sound. The company offers three service classes and note that within each class you pay additional fees for the panoramic window seats.

Breakfast in the Fairmont Olympic

This sumptuous breakfast can be delivered to your room at the Fairmont Olympic.

Image credit: Peggy Cleveland

3 best experiences at Fairmont Olympic

The Fairmont Olympic in Seattle is a gorgeous historic hotel dating back to 1924. It recently underwent an extensive renovation that stayed true to its historic heritage while giving it a modern refresh that created stunning public spaces. The hotel enjoys a prime location in Seattle within walking distance of Pike’s Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum.

Attend a special event at the Fairmont Olympic

Throughout the year, Fairmont Olympic offers special events, many of which take place near the holidays. At Christmas you can enjoy the famous Teddy Bear Suite with its hundreds of cuddle-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 exclusive 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 wonderful twist on high tea. The evening included cocktails with tea and live entertainment. Such an incredible event. The tickets were 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 Fairmont Olympic

Reservations are a must at the exclusive Founders Club. Inspired by prohibition speakeasy culture, this intimate space seats 30 guests. First-time visitors will feel their anticipation building as they access the Founders Club through a hidden entrance behind a bookcase door. They enter an enclave enveloped in deep, rich wood and polished brass that 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 whisky, scotch and other drinks will be delighted by the selections.

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 in an exclusive hotel. Slip into fluffy Fairmont robes and relax while enjoying a hot breakfast in your room. For me, the epitome of luxury is breakfast in your pyjamas without having to stress. With an 11am checkout, there’s plenty of time to relax before moving on.

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