Sandy Soule, BedandBreakfast.com
- an excellent source for Bed and Breakfasts around the world
"You're going to spend five days in Victoria?" exclaimed an incredulous but well-traveled friend. "How many times can you take an old-fashioned carriage ride around the Inner Harbour and have tea at the Empress? " Happy to say, our days were so busy with nature and nurture, culture and cuisine that we had no time for the carriage ride at all, and visited the Empress only long enough to tour their gallery of exceptionally beautiful sculpture by native artists.
The capital of British Columbia (known as BC), Victoria is located on Vancouver Island, not to be confused with the city of Vancouver, located on the BC mainland. Although we arrived in Victoria via the hourly Air Canada shuttle from Vancouver, you can get a head start on the city's maritime spirit by taking a ferry from mainland BC or Washington state. Lines are long in summer, so plan accordingly, especially if taking a car. For information, contact BC Ferries the Washington State Ferry or the Victoria Clipper. Coming in from the Olympic Penninsula at Port Angeles, Washington, is the Coho Ferry.
Where to stay:
Of course, CBBH recommends Binners' ... a Contemporary Oasis - a refreshingly contemporary, airy and light-filled place to unwind. Experience its close-to-downtown convenience, stylish sense of comfort, and Canada Select 4-and-a-half-Star hospitality. Situated in Victoria's prettiest seaside neighbourhood, it's just a ½ block to a scenic walk along the beach with sunset and sunrise views of ocean and mountain vistas. Or a delightful wander in majestic Beacon Hill Park, just a couple of blocks away. And scant minutes from everything that Victoria has to offer ... the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, live theatre, the diverse music scene, the vibrant Inner Harbour, the venerable Empress Hotel, great golfing, amazing scuba diving, Victoria's excellent restaurants ... and so much more.
North of Victoria¹s downtown, in the area of Elk/Beaver Lake and Cordova Bay, is Arbutus Hill Bed and Breakfast on a wooded hilltop with views of Mount Baker to the east. Arbutus Hill provides best-value in B&B accommodation in a quiet park-like environment. Enjoy bird watching during breakfast; deer and other wildlife often stop by to check you out as well. Arbutus Hill B&B is close to Glendale Gardens and Woodland at the Glendale Gardens and Woodland and the . Butchart Gardens and Butterfly Gardens are a short drive as well. From Arbutus Hill, there is also easy access to regional parks.
Other highly recommended B&Bs in the Greater Victoria are include
What to do:
Although this flower-filled city is delightful just for strolling along the water, exploring its historic, commercial, and residential areas, some "don't miss" activities include:
Butchart Gardens, a few miles north of the city, offers exquisitely maintained flower gardens, with beautiful blooms much of the year, evening entertainment and fireworks in summer, and Christmas lights in December. If time permits, the nearby Butterfly Gardens are also worth a visit. Royal British Columbia Museum, close to the Parliament Buildings and the Empress, depicts BC's history from many perspectives. Don't miss the First Peoples Gallery, which illustrates the stories of the area's First Nations (native tribes), including their lamentable treatment by European settlers.
You arrive via the little Victoria Harbour Ferries, slip on a headset and tour the 130-year-old house as if you were the new houseboy being shown the ropes. Afterwards, tea is served on the lawn by costumed staff while you play croquet or relax in wicker furniture (summer only). Craigdarroch Castle was built in the 1880s by Scottish immigrants, and features an extensive collection of stained and leaded glass, magnificent woodwork, Victorian furnishings, and decorative arts.
Gone are the days when dining in Victoria meant either boring British food or tasty but utilitarian Chinese and Indian restaurants. Now, a number of restaurants offer creative cuisine featuring the freshest regional bounty of land and sea; most have house-made breads, pastas, and desserts, plus first-rate wine lists. Always ask your innkeeper for current recommendations and to make your reservations.