Luxury mixed with charm and quaintness
No trip to British Columbia would be complete without visiting Victoria, which is the capital and sits on the southern end of Vancouver Island. The city is easy to get to from Vancouver by Harbour Air Seaplanes, the largest all-seaplane company in the world. Not only is the transport easy and affordable, the flight itself is about a 35-minute enjoyable experience looking out the windows of the cabin to see exhilarating views of the nearby islands and palatial waters. Harbour Air also has many other routes which accommodate to Nanaimo, Comox and Whistler.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour requires sufficient time to stroll and meander. With popular landmarks like the Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as cozy cafes and neighborhood restaurants, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the waterfront as well as the magnificence of the buildings. While there aren’t any shortage of hotels in Victoria, I decided to stay at Magnolia Hotel & Spa because it is merely steps from the Inner Harbour and it provides a luxury boutique hotel experience. Magnolia is recently rated #1 City Hotel in Canada in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2017 reader survey.
While the Magnolia was built in 1997, the hotel was designed to fit into Victoria’s old town district. In 1999, the building was the distinguished winner of the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Commercial Building Award for Excellence. With 64 rooms, the hotel provides service customized to each guest. It truly is amazing because the hotel has wonderful maps that can appeal to the individual’s interest. For instance, these are some of the themes: Tapa Trail (a map and list of great Tapa restaurants), Beautiful Boutiques Trail (a map highlighting the best boutiques), and Tea-riffic Trail (map and list of tea shops and rooms), and many more. Of course I enjoyed the Beautiful Boutiques map which led me to many fun stores to peruse.
Speaking of tea, it is a big deal in Vancouver and rightly so because authenticity is the key. Venus Sophia Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery is a European–inspired haunt with formal afternoon tea, vegetarian light bites & desserts. This beautiful little shop was simply adorable. Venus Sophia derives its name from Venus, which is is symbolic for beauty and love. Sophia to us means “Sufi”, traditional wisdom, a way of living and seeking truth by following the heart and soul. By letting things flow naturally. All teas are organic and food items are fresh and made from scratch.
Silk Road Tea is another excellent option for teas. I had the chance to do a tasting with Vanessa Leong, Director of Retail & Wholesale Operations. Silk Road’s teas are all organic and do not use artificial enhancers. During our sitting, I tasted Berry Victoria, which is their signature tea. It was indeed fragrant and very yummy, with no sweeteners or sugars. The second tea I sampled was the winter warrior, which is from the wellness section and meant to boost the immune system.
Silk Road has 3 locations with the flagship location in Victoria. Originally started in Victoria’s Chinatown in 1992 by owner Daniela Cubelic, a leading authority on tea and tea education, trained with Chinese herbalists and tea masters.
Silk Road also sells skincare and body products.
With so many places to eat, it was hard to come to a decision, but I am so glad to have found 10 Acres Kitchen, which is located right next to the Magnolia. The restaurant has a farm in North Saanich, where the majority of their produce is grown and ethically raise their meat. They also work closely with local like-minded farmers and fisherman. The menu highlights local food focusing on freshness and innovation.
For dinner, I dined on the signature 10 Acres Greens salad – a fresh and refreshing mix of house greens, spicy pumpkin seeds and pickled vegetables. Alongside, the Lois Lake Steelhead with farm fresh vegetables picked from the farm that morning was just delightful!
My trip to Victoria ended with me saying goodbye to the Inner Harbour as I peered out the Harbour Air Seaplane: a taste of luxury mixed with some charm and quaintness.
Magnolia Hotel & Spa
Address: 623 Courtney Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1B8, Canada
Address: 540 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC V8W 1R4, Canada
Silk Road Tea
Address: 2066 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M9, Canada
10 Acres Bistro
Address: 611 Courtney St, Victoria, BC V8W 1W8, Canada