I know I’m several months behind on this but I’m finally getting around to telling you all about our mini romantic getaway to Victoria, British Columbia. Back in September I casually mentioned to my boyfriend that I was bummed I couldn’t treat myself to a passport stamp this year; ever since my 2017 trip around the British Isles I’ve had the itch to travel and I hated the fact that I couldn’t scratch the itch in 2018. Lo and behold, my wonderfully thoughtful man surprised me with a quick trip to the “Great White North”.
We booked our travel through the Victoria Clipper, dashed down to Seattle’s Pier 69 to hop on a cute little catamaran decked out in the Union-Jack, that took us straight into downtown Victoria. The Clipper chugs along at a relatively quick pace and as someone who gets pretty severe motion sickness, I was happy to see they do have free packs of motion-sickness pills on board. There are other ferry options that will allow you to travel up with a car but we knew we would be spending most of our time at the hotel and could take a taxi or the shuttle wherever we needed to go.
Speaking of the hotel, my man booked us into the cutest luxury boutique resort called the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. We had the hotel shuttle come pick us up from the dock so we could unpack and get settled; our rooms weren’t quite ready so we grabbed a drink at their bar The Snug Pug and were treated to views of gorgeous fall foliage and the strait of Juan de Fuca.
On top of being gorgeous, The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is equipped with everything you need for a weekend of rest, relaxation and renewal. They’ve got a full-service spa, complete with manicure/pedicure rooms, a eucalyptus sauna, fitness studio. If this sounds too good to be true, don’t take my word for it – this spa was selected for Top 25 Spas in Canada in the 2018 Canadian Spa & Wellness Awards, presented by Spa Inc. All of these amazing amenities are next door to their outdoor mineral baths; they’ve got 3 separate heated baths and a full-sized pool pushing right up against the Salish Sea, making this your personal seaside oasis.
FOOD & DRINK
After taking advantage of their gorgeous facilities, we decided on a romantic night on the town so we asked the concierge for recommendations and they sent us to a charming French wine & charcuterie bar called Vis à Vis. Not only was the food superb but they have a “face-to-face” mentality so when we sat at the bar we got to interact with their chef as they prepared meals and appetizers. She was so sweet, answered all my inexperienced food questions, gave us great recommendations, and let us try samples of the things she made for other tables! 10 out of 10 would recommend, this restaurant was one of my favorite parts of this trip.
When we weren’t spending time soaking our troubles away, we were walking around downtown Victoria; despite the rainy October weather, the city is fairly easy to navigate and there are plenty of shops to keep a wanderer occupied. My boyfriend and I are constantly in passionate turmoil because I’m an Anglophile (obsessed with British culture) and he is from Dublin, Ireland so he has “problems” with the British. Regardless, we can both always find time for a spot of tea so enter the wondrous Murchie’s. They have a massive showroom, complete with tea from around the world. I bagged some of my favorite (lavender earl grey) and bought some black currant tea to shake things up. Built into the shop is a delightful little cafe where we had the most delicious apricot tea, which obviously wouldn’t be complete without a proper scone, clotted cream and jam.
We kept walking around, popping into random shops, picking up souvenirs, enjoying each other’s company and the general friendliness of the Canadian people. Of course, it didn’t take him long to find a pub we could cozy up in for a bit. We hit up The Bard & Banker for a quick reprieve from the rain and a pint to warm our bones, it delivered on both! Fun Fact: the building originally opened in 1885 as the Bank of British Columbia and stayed a bank until 1988. Our Irish traditions continued when I embraced my heritage with a flight of Jameson whiskey at the Irish Times Pub. Anyone who knows me knows that I almost exclusively drink Jameson, and touring the distillery in Dublin was one of the highlights of my trip so this was a real treat! First, we tried the Distillers Safe, Coopers Croze, and Blenders Dog which are all part of Jameson’s Whiskey Maker Series. We followed it with Crested, Black Barrel and Caskmates Stout Edition (my favorite).
After we had our fill, we walked back to where the Oak Bay driver was picking us up only to be greeted by a beautiful light display, which I believe is up year round!
I always try to give y’all a complete and well-rounded review of my trips, usually including some downside to a trip, but the whole weekend was just so wonderful for us! I guess if I had to include something, I could say how much I wished we had taken more time off in order to explore outside of downtown. There are so many activities in Victoria that we decided to wait on, purely because we wanted our weekend to be pressure-free so we could focus on relaxing.
A few things on my list for our next trip are Butchart Gardens (I hear it’s magical around the holidays), tea at the Fairmont Empress, check out the Craigdarroch Castle, go on a whale watching tour, or even a stroll through their wine country. This city was quaint but bustling, the people were courteous but not nosy, there were people from every walk of life and we met plenty of people who lived in Victoria because it’s the calmer version of Vancouver, BC. Overall, we loved our time here, both in the city and relaxing at The Oak Bay Beach Hotel. If you get the chance to make the trip yourself then you’ll see, this is the perfect alternative if you don’t want to pop into a tourist-riddled city like Vancouver.