Breakfast arrives as we chat with a couple from Seattle at a
communal table fresh fruit salad, warm citrus cranberry muffins and
poached eggs on roasted zucchini and roma tomatoes, drizzled with a
saffron Hollandaise sauce. It’s as delicious as our companions are
delightful. A preservation architect, she’s here in Victoria for a
seminar; her husband has joined her for a weekend break.
“That’s what we’re about,” says Marion Hansen, the general
manager for Abigail’s Hotel, the deluxe bed-and-breakfast where
we’re staying. “You get to meet and enjoy the company of other
Built as a Tudor-style apartment building in the 1930s,
Abigail’s has been converted into an elegant B&B. In a quiet
residential area just a five-minute stroll from Victoria’s downtown
picturesque Inner Harbor, it evokes the charm and history of days
There are 23 rooms to choose from many with period antique
furnishings, wood-burning fireplaces and Italian marble bathrooms.
Touches like candles, fresh flowers and a welcome basket with
home-baked cookies complement every room. Contemporary amenities
include free wireless high-speed Internet and flat-screen TV’s. For
a special occasion, book clients into one of the two newly
renovated honeymoon suites, with vaulted ceilings, stained-glass
windows and double Jacuzzi tubs with neck towels placed at either
end. The plush four-poster king bed is so high, a little white
footstool is provided. The other rooms in the original main house,
which feature queen beds, are all different in size, decor and
For longer stays, the Coach House rooms in a separate new
building offer more amenities. Each has a sitting area with leather
couch, coffee maker and small fridge. The Coach House rooms all
have king beds. Clients who can’t bear to leave Fifi behind when
traveling will be tickled that some rooms are also pooch-friendly.
In the late afternoons, tasty appetizers are set out in the cozy
library. To stave off hunger before dinner our first day, we sat by
the crackling fire and nibbled on hummus and pita bread, samosas
and a selection of cheeses. Cider was complimentary, but a glass of
good local wine can also be purchased.
Breakfast in the sunny breakfast room (or out on the
flower-filled patio in summer) is included in the rates, and
there’s a choice of a savory, sweet or healthy entree. Our second
morning, I had a hard time choosing between the dark chocolate and
mascarpone crepes with fresh strawberries or the ham, leek and
Swiss cheese omelette accompanied by maple smoked bacon and
scalloped red potatoes.
Last year, Abigail’s added the Pearl Spa Room, so clients can
book treatments in-house.
Abigail’s has won several awards, including Victoria’s “best
small hotel” by Frommer’s for the past four years. Judging by our
recent stay, I can see why.
Commision: 10 percent
DISCOVERING VICTORIA’S SECRETS
Wine Touring: Small boutique family-owned
wineries have blossomed big-time in recent years around Victoria.
Clients can sample playful fruit wines like blackcurrant,
loganberry, quince and kiwi concoctions at the Marley Farm Winery,
one of six wineries within a 15- to 20-minute drive from Victoria.
For clients without a rental car, Clipper Vacations offers a
Southern Vancouver Island Wine Tour and Lunch package just 45
minutes from Victoria. Five wineries, gourmet lunch and chauffeured
limousine bus are included. www.clippervacations.com
Royal BC Museum: Where else can you journey
back millions of years to be blasted by cold as you approach a
giant Woolly mammoth on a real wall of ice? Starting April 14, a
poignant new presentation of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition runs
for six months (to mid-October). Climb the gangway, and immerse
yourself in the Titanic passenger experience. Authentically
recreated first- and third-class cabins and other galleries
showcase some 281 artifacts recovered from the ship’s undersea
resting place; the Titanica documentary is being screened in the
museum’s IMAX theatre.
Great Walks: Walking is one of the best ways to
enjoy Victoria. My favorite is a stroll through beautiful Beacon
Hill Park downtown, past the pond lilies and fountains, to the
ocean’s edge. A waterfront pathway then leads to Ogden Point, where
scuba divers explore the undersea wall. Continue to Fisherman’s
Wharf to eye the floating houseboats and the Inner Harbor, then
finish off with a glass of bubbly on the Veranda of the Fairmont
Empress (better than its famous afternoon tea!).