As my love for the Pacific Northwest continues to make my heart sing (every single time), I still find myself visiting new gems that make me never want to leave. Victoria, also known as: the loveliest city to get lost in, has quickly become one of my favorites and to experience it for New Year's was pretty spectacular.
As per tradition, our friends Sheehan and Mackenzie joined us for a very special NYE weekend in the aforementioned city of love. To our absolute delight, we stayed at The Empress Hotel which was easily the highlight of the entire visit. I have truly never felt more cozy or welcome in a hotel, period.
We arrived by way of ferry and as we were doing so, I could already tell that Victoria and I would get along perfectly. It was, in my humble opinion, so very cold. Nevertheless, we were bundled, and determined to hit the lobby bar as soon as possible.
On New Year's Eve, we promptly went to brunch at a place that is renowned for having long waits (which means it's 100% worth it) called Jam Cafe. Charming and warm, we all ordered different things and I have to say that Bennett's choice, The Gravy Coops (their version of biscuits and gravy plus fried chicken with an egg on top), was the best. If you happen to go to Jam, order THAT.
We had a very chill afternoon then got all dazzled up for NYE night, wherein Mackenzie and I opted for sequins (obviously). After a couple hours of being downtown, I realized that my outfit was quite similar to that of Liberace and a yeti which in my opinion, is the perfect way to start a new year.
We started at John's Place for snacks (funky spot that's perfect for a quick bite), then we went to The Churchill (great bar for fun cocktails) and I got an Irish coffee because I needed a little perk also read: I usually go to bed at 9pm. We stopped in at Smith's (VERY cute and great music). And lastly, we made our way back to The Empress to our little corner spot at Q Bar. It was midnight before we knew it and pizza/face masks ensued because being an adult is hard work.
January 1st! Brunch was in order and we ended up at Willie's. I got a bomb breakfast sammie and a Caesar (Canada's version of a Bloody Mary). After brunch we walked around downtown and peeked into some windows. The majority of places were actually closed for New Year's Day so we hung out at the hotel which was coincidentally our favorite activity.
For happy hour we headed to Vista 18, and watched the sunset from one of the best views in the city. Also, there was a full moon and it was in CHARGE. I did a time lapse, it was fine. We were craving sushi for dinner so we headed to Shizen in Chinatown. We ordered just enough and shared everything (also their sake glasses were my favorite ever).
The first day of any year should include a hot tub sesh and we did just that! I'm still dreaming of that sauna situation post swim. Literal luxury. This is one of the only portions of the trip I didn't take any pictures of but I DID get video that will never see the light of day. You're welcome!
Our departure day was January 2nd and Mackenzie and I were in for a treat! First, a tour of the most beautiful rooms at the hotel (I was in heaven) and a peek into some spots that visitors don't often see. My favorite space was Palm Court where the original stained glass dome from 1908 is exposed.
Highlight alert: Tea at The Empress. This was hand's down exquisite in every way possible. Mackenzie and I got to experience their Festive Champagne Tea so it was our last taste of the holiday's and WOW was it glorious. Every bite served is made using fresh, local ingredients. And the tea. This was pretty special. I got the Blue Suede Shoes for obvious reasons. I feel so lucky to have experienced afternoon tea at one of the most famous places to do so.
After tea we hit up Q Bar one last time before hopping on the ferry. We got to try their famous gin, Empress 1908, which (brace yourself) starts out as a bright indigo blue (naturally!) and when you add the tonic, it turns bright purple. I can't think of a cocktail that aligns with my beliefs more than this one.
This trip was everything and more. I feel so grateful to have stayed at such a beautiful, historic place with my people. There's so much to plan, dream up, and take pictures of this year and I'm so, so excited.
Check out my Victoria Travel Vlog for our daily shananigans!