Psssttt! We stayed on Victoria’s Inner Harbor in a ‘room with a view’ at a delightful place you’ve probably never noticed. And that’s because it sits in the shadow of the more well-known Empress Hotel, an icon of the city and its busy harbor.
We stayed at its lovely next door neighbor, the equally elegant and elderly Union Club of British Columbia. (That’s our room right under the flag pole as a matter of fact.)
The Club, eh? Doesn’t that mean ‘private’ with membership? Not necessarily. . .read on:
The Union Club has been in this landmark building for 99 years although the gentlemen’s club was in existence long before that time. (Ladies have been welcomed as members since the 1990’s).
We discovered the Union Club some half dozen years ago and following a delightful stay there, became non-resident members. (I think it was the view - in the photo to the right - to the Inner Harbor from this outside patio that won us over.)
These days you don’t need be a member to experience the private club life because a portion of the 22-guest rooms that make up the upper two levels of the club are available to the public. (This was our king room without all the fancy doo-dad pillows on the bed.)
And this was our view. I did a quick check this morning on Expedia.com and Booking.com and the price for a harbor view room at the Empress Hotel was $414 a night, as compared to this room which was $357 for two nights (Victoria’s hefty tax of 14 percent wasn’t added to either of those rates.)
It is still a private club at heart though so it may not appeal to everyone. A dress code applies to all who stay (as in ‘no jeans or shorts’ in common areas) and cell phones are kindly requested to be quieted as well in the common areas, which include an elegant reading room and a cozy library. (We’ve been known to spend hours in that reading room enjoying any of a number of English, Canadian and American newspapers and some two dozen magazines.)
There’s no pool or spa, but there is a bar and restaurant . . .some of the best food in Victoria is found in the Union Club restaurant.
A card room and a billiards room harken to the days of old, and still attract a good number of guests.
It is a place where Ladies Nights and Men’s Nights occur with special buffet dinners once each week and on those nights members of the opposite sex are not to be seen in the restaurant or bar, but can dine and socialize on the patio or reading rooms.
The old carpeted floors creak and oh the stories those rich wood-paneled walls could tell. Nestling into the green leather chairs with your feet up on the matching ottoman is the perfect cure for weary travel feet.
If you want an out-of-the-ordinary travel experience, The Inn at the Union Club, 805 Gordon St., Victoria, B.C. is our recommendation for the place to stay.
For information or reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.innattheunionclub.com, 1-800-808-2218, 250-384-1151, or www.booking.com