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Victoria BC Accommodations

• A WorldWeb.com Travel Guide for Victoria, British Columbia.
As the largest city on the largest island on North America's west coast, and one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Victoria has a lot to speak of: spectacular ocean adventures, relatively low humidity, some of the mildest weather in Canada, gardens, landmarks and historic sites.

As with any vacation or business trip, it is important to find the right accommodation according to needs and budget. The WorldWeb.com Travel Guide Accommodation Directory for the city of Victoria provides all the criteria visitors need to choose the right place to stay. In this directory, visitors will find detailed information on the many choices, from hotels and luxury resorts to inns and hostels, with links to booking and even interactive maps displaying the location of lodgings relative to business centres, restaurants and attractions like the many parks and gardens Victoria is known for.

AREAS OF VICTORIA
As of the year 2000, the Greater Victoria region encompases 13 municipalities. As visitors soon find, this creates a variety of options when it comes to lodging. For a better idea of where things are when planning a visit to the island city, visit the WorldWeb.com Travel Guide Interactive Map and select the items to be viewed, from accommodations to attractions to restaurants.

Downtown
As the provincial capital, Victoria is an important commercial centre (though not the business Mecca that neighbouring Vancouver has become), and as such many accommodations are located within walking distance of downtown's major business complexes.

Downtown is an ideal base for visitors wanting to explore the city. In addition to all the shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities, downtown Victoria overlooks the Inner Harbour, ideal for activities like kayaking, boating and whale watching. Of the more impressive areas of the city, Victoria's Chinatown is worth a visit. The oldest such district in Canada, developed in the days of opium dens and gambling houses, Chinatown welcomes visitors with traditional stone lions and street markets, and shops boasting various imported treasures, many of which are handmade in the Orient.

The world famous Fairmont Empress Hotel Victoria is among the finest, not to mention popular, places to stay in the capital. Set against the stunning Inner Harbour, the elegant, early 20th-century hotel offers spa treatments and access to an impressive 18 hole championship golf course. The Fairmont Empress Hotel brings a rich history littered with Hollywood legends, including Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, Douglas Fairbanks, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Shirley Temple. It is the hotel of choice for visiting royalty (the hotel still serves Afternoon Tea in the Tea Lobby daily). It is even said to be the home of at least two friendly spirits.

The innovative Laurel Point Inn Victoria, also overlooking the Inner Harbour, was designed by celebrated architect Arthur Erickson (who designed the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, and theCanadian Embassy in Washington, DC), the Laurel Point offers all the expected amenities from a first rate hotel, plus a Japanese garden, high-speed Internet access and a picturesque oceanside patio.

Offering affordable lodging alternatives, Victoria supports both independent and well known hotels like the Best Western, Days Inn and Quality Inn, found in choice locations around the capital. Some of the best rates can be found in the core, at such spots as Paul's Motor Inn and Traveller's Inn Victoria. There are a few backpacker oriented options to chose from as well. Ocean Island Backpackers Inn Victoria, on Pandora only a few short blocks from the Inner Harbour, offers both private and dorm style rooms at rates more conventional accommodations cannot. Hostelling International also welcomes weary travellers to a location at the corner of Yates and Wharf Streets, right on the Inner Harbour.

AROUND VICTORIA

Picturesque Victoria expands to roughly 630 sq km (391 sq mi), on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and there are many opportunities for vacation fun and accommodations within the city. For many people, however, staying in surrounding communities is ideal, far from the hustle and bustle of life in the capital. These communities offer the quiet peace of a small town, and provide quick and easy access to both the city of Victoria and routes to the rest of Vancouver Island.

The main routes include the northbound Highway 17 to Brentwood Bay, Saanichton and Sidney, Highway 1 running west to Langford before turning north along the coast to Nanaimo (the bathtub racing capital of the world) and the rest of the island, and Highway 14, running south west between Victoria and the Sooke Basin.

Esquimalt
The English Inn & Resort, across the harbour in Esquimalt, is an example of fine accommodations around Victoria offering rooms at both high and affordable rates. In addition to exquisite, landscaped grounds, the English Inn & Resort offers a world-class concierge ready to make any vacation dream come to life. Esquimalt is also home to the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum, formerly a British Naval Base dating to 1865. In it is information on various military sites. It is also the second largest Canadian Forces Base in the country (the largest is in Halifax, Nova Scotia).

View Royal
View Royal, on the western edge of the city boundary, is mostly residential. Accommodations may be sparse, but spots like the Seaside House View Royal offer luxury amenities and ocean views, while the city provides easy access to all of Victoria, the Portage Inlet and Esquimalt Harbour and the ocean. These features make View Royal particularly popular with water sport enthusiasts, from boaters to kayakers. There are historic sights, such as Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse, dating to 1853 (making it the oldest schoolhouse in Western Canada). There are parks, The Francis/King Regional Park, a popular wheelchair friendly recreation area, and the Portage Park area, once used by First Nations people. And the city keeps visitors close to some of the best golfing on the island.

Sooke
Sooke, on the south western coast of Vancouver Island, overlooks the Sooke Basin and the Strait of Juan De Fuca, between Canada and Port Angeles, Washington, USA. Sooke is a wonderful blend of modern industry, farmland and pristine wilderness only a short drive from Victoria. At times, Sooke has been both a logging and a fishing town, and the cultural heritage is strongly reflected in the city's development. There are many popular events, such as the Sooke Fall Fair, showcasing the talent of local artists. Sooke also boasts many interesting attractions, such as the Sooke Harbour House and Galloping Goose Regional Trail, which is gaining popularity with both hikers and mountain bikers. The city provides ample accommodation, from cottages and vacation homes to B&Bs. There are some unique oppotrunities, as can be found with On the Sea Bed and Breakfast, an 80' ship moored at a private wharf. Sooke is also an excellent choice for campers, with many sights around the city and even in downtown Sooke with the Sooke River Flats Campsite.

Colwood
The Colwood area of Greater Victoria is best known for Hatley Park Castle and Museum, once the home of B.C. premier James Dunsmir, and Hatley Park, a former military college. The grounds of Hatley Park have been extensively renovated, and include a renowned Japanese garden.

Langford
Langford is one of the larger communities in the Greater Victoria region. Relatively unpopular in its early years, the city has made great efforts to improve its image through both commerce and landscaping. It is now the commercial centre for communities west of Victoria, but also boasts several opportunities for nature lovers, the Goldstream Provincial Park. The Glen Lake Inn is not directly on the lake, but is only a short walk away. This cozy inn is only 15 minutes from the city of Victoria, putting visitors close to both the big city and natural wonders, making this location well suited to any vacation. In much the same vein, the Dragonfly Ridge Langford offers similar opportunities for business or leisure, with the addition of a private dock on Lake Langford, always well stocked with various fish.

Brentwood Bay
Only minutes north of Victoria, Brentwood Bay is a quaint little spot on the Saanich Inlet, sheltered from the busy ferry routes and major highways while keeping visitors mere kilometres away from downtown Victoria. It is the ideal spot for bed and breakfast vacationers, offering a shortcut to the rest of Vancouver Island by way of the Mill Bay ferry. The Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa is the area's only five star oceanview resort, and offers all that is expected from such an establishment. From fine dining to luxury spa treatments, a truely invigorating experience awaits. Brentwood Bay also has options for those looking for more affordable places to stay, such as the Brentwood Inn Resort, close to many attractions like Butchart Gardens, and some nice Bed & Breakfasts, such as Clinker's Bed and Breakfast.

Metchosin
Metchosin, one of the smaller communities in the region, is laid back and friendly. The town has plenty of green space with many trails to explore. There are also a few festivals of note, including Fired Up, a pottery exhibition in May, a county fair in September and Sheep Dog trials in July. Interesting historic sites around Metchosin include St. Mary's Heritage Church and the Metchosin School Museum, well worth a visit. On the coast, just south of central Metchosin, is the Lodge at Weir's Beach, known for spacious and comfortable rooms and romantic views. There are a variety of rooms to choose from, including a private beach house with five gas fireplaces, beach views, high speed Internet access and full kitchens.

Saanichton
Saanichton, found on the Saanichton Peninsula between Victoria and Sidney, is best known as a sleepy stop with beautiful gardens. Far from the hustle of the provincial capital yet close enough to visit in minutes, Saanichton may be the ideal place for visitors looking for a more relaxing pace to their vacation. Its location lends itself to easy travel around Vancouver Island, by land or by sea.

There are a variety of lodging options around Saanichton, such as the Seaside Luxury Resort and Spa Saanichton, with its panoramic ocean views, indoor pool and hot tub and other special amenities make for the ideal luxury retreat. There are also plenty of bed and breakfasts throughout the city, such as A Quail's Grove Bed & Breakfast Guesthouse, which can be booked for extended visits, or Oceandance Bed & Breakfast, a quiet estate just off the city centre.

Sidney
Sidney lies at the northern tip of the Saanichton Peninsula, a mere 26 km (16 mi) from downtown Victoria. This is the destination for ferries from the mainland (which leave from Tsawassen) and is ideal for visiting neighbouring Gulf Islands, or the San Juan Islands, USA. From Sidney, visitors can easily explore the ocean, the capital, enjoy golf, whale watching, kayaking, markets, biking and more. The most popular, and quickest, routes to Victoria are Highways 17 and 17A, but there are many secondary roads which see less traffic (but take more time). The alternative roads take visitors through smaller communities like Brentwood Bay, and can make for a very enjoyable, scenic journey.

In addition, the Victoria International Airport is immediately outside of Sidney, on Highway 17 (22 km north of Victoria). Victoria International handles more than one million travellers annually. Around the airport, some of the more well known chains (like Victoria Airport Travelodge, the Quality Inn Waddling Dog or Victoria Super 8 Motel) mingle with independant locations such as Borthwick Country Manor in Sidney).

GETTING AROUND

Getting around Victoria is fairly easy, in part because the majority of attractions are within walking distance (from and around downtown), and also in part because the city offers many options for local transit. Renting a limousine is not as popular as in other major centres, but it is possible in Victoria. This can be more costly than many tourists care for. There are many car rental agencies, but some travellers find that driving doesn't allow for as much sightseeing as they might like, and fuel and parking can be expensive. The same can be said for motorcycle rentals, although they are less expensive and consume less fuel than cars. Even more economical still are bicycle rentals. One of the most inexpensive means of touring the city, bicycles offer the chance to visit any attraction while saving money and having fun (not to mention getting exercise). Victoria is a very cycle-friendly city, with friendly drivers, clear roadways, and many kilometres of well planned out bicycle trails that extend to the surrounding communities, for those adventurous enough to try it. In Saanich, for example, the trails coincide with much of the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails, and the ocean views they provide. There is even a biking specific park, Hartland Mountain Bike Park, in Saanich. Trail information and maps can be found at most bike shops. There are many scenic routes off the main highways that expose visitors to the natural wonders of British Columbia.

For most visitors to the city, however, public transit is the best option. BC Transit operates extensively throughout the Greater Victoria region, with regular stops in nearby Sooke and Sidney (including stops at the ferry terminals). Most major attractions, such as Butchart Gardens, are near bus stops. Schedules and maps can be found at the Tourism Victoria Visitor Information Centre.

The location of Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island makes the city a perfect place for touring the island by water. There are many ferry options for day trips from the city. Victoria Harbour Ferries covers the Inner Harbour many times each day, making frequent stops at such popular locations as Fisherman's Wharf, Fairmont Empress and Chinatown.

Washington State Ferries operates between Anacortes, Washington, USA and Sidney, BC, only minutes north of Victoria. The Victoria Clipper ferry offers daily passenger only service (no vehicles) between downtown Victoria and downtown Seattle, Washington, USA. Overnight stays are available.
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