CLAIM TO FAME: The question isn’t so much who has stayed at this venerable hotel—which harks back to railroad’s golden age—but who hasn’t. Jack Benny, Katharine Hepburn and Bing Crosby all hung their hats here. More recently, it’s accommodated John Travolta, Barbra Streisand and Queen Elizabeth.
BEST PLACE TO HANG OUT: If you’re feeling Vancouver Island’s, um, atmospheric chill, book the West Coast hot rock massage at the sumptuous Willow Stream Spa. After 90 minutes of being kneaded with the aid of warm stones and essential oil, you’ll forget what “cold” and “damp” even mean.
SIGNATURE DRINK: A tradition since 1908, the afternoon tea in the hotel’s ornate tea lobby (think Rudyard Kipling meets Alice in Wonderland) features a bespoke blend of Assam, Kenya, South India, Ceylon and China varieties created for the Empress by the Metropolitan Tea Company.
AMAZING AMENITY: Thanks to Fairmont’s recent collaboration with Le Labo, every room at the Empress features Rose 31 products from the New York custom fragrance house. The woodsy/floral scent evokes both the masculine and the feminine—along with a strong urge to stuff a few bottles into your bag.