While you may know Victoria, B.C. for its historic landmarks, picturesque scenery and award-winning Royal BC museum, did you also know that it has been ranked ‘Top Romantic Canadian City’ for the fifth year in a row?
Recently, we were invited by Tourism Victoria to come and experience the romance firsthand, which was a request Jason and myself were more than happy to accept. After all, it had been over a year since the two of us have been able to get away — just the two of us.
As parents with busy schedules, it’s never easy to escape our parental and pet duties, but it’s certainly not impossible.
In fact, I’d say our yearly tradition of taking a romantic getaway has really served to strengthen our marriage, which is going on 12 years.
And what better way to celebrate a milestone anniversary than to head to our country’s Capital city that has been crowned the top spot in Canada for lovers?
Well, it was a whirlwind of a trip — one that would rival any romance novel, that’s for sure. And guess what — I’m going to tell you all about it (well, most of it…) so that you can start planning your next getaway.
Want to cook up some romance in your relationship? Here are the 5 key ingredients for a romantic weekend in Victoria.
- Take One Part Luxury Oceanfront Accommodations
“Travel makes one modest. You see what tiny place you occupy in the world,” ~ Gustave Flaubert.
When planning your romantic getaway, the most important ingredient that will make or break your trip is the accommodations. Trust me on this one – we have cut corners in the past, or didn’t bother to do our research, resulting in some pretty ‘interesting’ aka terrifying and sketchy hotel stays in the past.
If it’s refined elegance, history and relaxation you’re seeking, I highly recommend booking a stay at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. This ultra luxurious oceanfront hotel contains one hundred rooms, offering elegant guest rooms and suites that have been thoughtfully designed and tastefully furnished.
Our oceanfront one-bedroom suite seamlessly blended the perfect combination of classic Manor House-inspired architecture and modern in-suite amenities, while providing a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Highlights included the most sumptuous King-sized bed that make you feel as though you’re lying on a cloud, our very own fireplace, kitchenette and spa-inspired bathroom, complete with a heated tile floor and enormous soaker tub – the latter was our favourite place to soak up some suds, while soaking up the view.
We felt right at home for our one-night stay — the bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and family photo compliments of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel awaiting us upon arrival was such a sweet gesture.
- Add a Hearty Helping of History
Upon stepping inside the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, I felt as though we had been whisked away to a magical fairytale — one where I was treated like a princess, Jason was my handsome prince, and we would get to reside in the most beautiful castle steeped in history and romance by the sea.
Built in an English Manor House style and reopened in the fall of 2012, we learned that Victoria’s Oak Bay Beach Hotel has been completely reconstructed to an international luxury standard on the same spectacular oceanfront lot where the previous hotel sat for more than 85 years. Trust me, this is no ordinary hotel.
The original Oak Bay Beach Hotel built in 1927 by Major Merston, was completely destroyed in a fire on October 14, 1930. An exact replica was promptly rebuilt on its ashes, and that building, with all its old-world charm, became “the place to be, and be seen” among locals and guests alike.
In 1972, Bruce Walker and Glenn Anderson, two businessmen from Winnipeg, purchased the hotel. Having grown up working alongside his father and grandfather in the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Bruce’s son, Kevin Walker, and his wife Shawna, decided to continue the family’s hotel legacy by purchasing it in October 1995.
Today the Oak Bay Beach Hotel is positioned as one of the top luxury resorts in the Pacific North West and has been consistently ranked as among the Top Luxury Hotels in Canada, Top Hotels in Canada, and Most Romantic Hotels in Canada by visitors on TripAdvisor.
While the hotel has been reconstructed from the ground up, I love that many of its original pieces, like this beautiful fireplace, were kept in the redesign to honour the hotel’s rich history.
- Blend in Ample Relaxation & Serenity
While we didn’t get a chance to check out the spa, it was absolute Heaven taking a dip in the complimentary Bathhouse Baths facilities (steam sauna and Baths), overlooking the ocean.
As we were soaking, Jason noticed a little margarita hut onside that blends a plethora of cocktails on the weekends, or when the sun is out. Guests can enjoy their beverage and order appetizers at the little bistro-style tables by the pool. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful, you feel like you’ve been whisked away on a tropical holiday, minus the costly airfare and tummy trouble.
- Lightly Season With Decadent Dining
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or are just wanting to take your romantic weekend to the next level, you’ll definitely want to reserve a table at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s award-winning restaurant — The Dining Room.
With stunning ocean views and just thirty-four seats, the intimate atmosphere is unmatched by any other fine dining restaurant in the city. Jason and I really appreciated the personal and attentive service, dreamy view and mouth-watering cuisine featuring the season’s best locally sourced ingredients.
During our stay, we appreciated that there was also casual dining option — The Snug Pub, which is the perfect spot to share an appy or enjoy a couple of beverages. Both an icon and an institution in Victoria, with a history dating back to 1954, The Snug pub happens to be Victoria’s very first neighbourhood pub.
A little tidbit that I enjoyed learning was that some of the bar’s original beer steins’ that belonged to the pub’s regular patrons have been retired and are on display in the bar.
For more information about the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, or to book your stay, visit www.oakbaybeachhotel.com.
- Bring Thrilling Adventure to a Full Boil
“May your adventures bring you closer together, even as they take you far away from home,” Trenton Lee Stewart
When I found out that we’d be going whale watching with Eagle Wing Wildlife Tours, I was ecstatic! Eagle Wing Wildlife Tours has garnered the reputation as #1 for Whale Watching in all of Victoria on Vancouver Island and is Canada’s first Carbon Neutral & 1% for the Planet eco adventure whale watching tour company. I was equally excited to learn that there was a bathroom onboard — I wasn’t sure my caffeinated bladder could withstand 3.5 hours on the Salish Sea.
Being offseason, we were warned the chances of a sighting were at about 50%, but it would be our lucky day. We saw EVERYTHING and more, including three families of Orca Whales up close, an enormous Humpback Whale, Seals, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles and Dall’s porpoise.
Aside from snuggling up with Jason and taking in the view, the salty ocean air and sunshine, the highlight was when a family of around 11 Dall’s porpoise (a species of porpoise found only in the North Pacific that resemble mini Orca Whales) playfully swam alongside our boat, splashing the passengers with their tails. You should have heard the squeals of delight coming from the little children on board – it was priceless!
Onboard, the team of local, passionate conservationists, were more than happy to answer all our questions about the marine wildlife and had wind/waterproof jackets onboard for guests, as well has toques, gloves and snacks for purchase.
Book your whale watching tour at www.eaglewingtours.com.
After our fruitful voyage, we took our time exploring Victoria’s historic floating village Fisherman’s Wharf. While I have had the pleasure of visiting Victoria several times, this was my first visit to this hidden treasure, and was a top highlight of our trip.
From unique food kiosks offering everything from fresh crab legs and shucked oysters to eclectic shops and ice cream stands, it’s the perfect place for a romantic stroll and a bite to eat.
After checking out all the neat shops and colourful float homes, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a picnic table by the water of fresh oysters, right off the boat, and fish tacos. It was fun to people watch all the tourists, fishermen and eccentric locals while listening to the music of buskers nearby. Just as we were about to leave, a friendly plump sea-lion rose to the water’s surface to bid us farewell. Okay, he most likely wanted our tacos, but I’m not sure that’s appropriate mammal cuisine. Fun fact: you can buy food for the sea lions and feed them at the wharf – we noticed it was a huge draw for families with young children. I know our girls wold love that.
While it’s never easy to say goodbye to downtown Victoria, our romantic getaway was just heating up. It was time to get into our car, grab a hot coffee and start the next chapter of our steamy Vancouver Island adventure — to Sooke! I hope you enjoyed this travel post. If you’re not already, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss part 2.
For more tips planning your next trip, make sure to visit www.tourismvictoria.com.
Disclaimer: While all opinions are my own, our hotel stay, some meals and whale watching tour was complimentary.