One of Canada's most picturesque cities, the BC capital of Victoria continues to evolve into one of the most romantic and vibrant destinations in the Pacific Northwest, a top destination among gay and lesbian residents of both Vancouver and Seattle, and drawing plenty of folks from all over the world.
Tourism and government both play strong roles in this relatively small city of about 80,000, so you'll find a large and varied selection of hotels and inns, from sleek and modern towers overlooking the famed Inner Harbour to restored Victorian mansions offering bed-and-breakfast.
Listed in alphabetical order, here's a guide to some of the most welcoming and memorable accommodations in Victoria, all of them quite popular with LGBT visitors.
A gay-owned, historic in with one of the most charmed settings in the city, Dashwood Manor Seaside B&B (1 Cook St., 250-385-5517) contains 11 beautifully appointed rooms as well as a larger one-bedroom apartment that's ideal for longer stays. This Arts and Crafts Tudor Revival beauty was built in 1912 and overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Washington State's Olympia Mountain range in the distance - it's on scenic Dallas Road near Clover Point and right next to leafy and verdant Beacon Hill Park. The location is both peaceful yet convenient, as it's only a 25-minute walk through Beacon Park to the Inner Harbour, or less than a 10-minute car ride - if you have time and the weather is nice, definitely go on foot.
There are few more pleasurable hotel experiences in Victoria than relaxing in a lounge chair on your balcony at the contemporary and luxurious Inn at Laurel Point (680 Montreal St., 250-386-8721) and watching ferries, water taxis, sailboats, and sea planes depart and arrive in the historic Inner Harbour. The property fringes the seawall, which is ideal for a waterfront evening stroll or morning jog and also provides easy access to downtown, which is a leisurely 10- to 15-minute stroll along the water. Whether you stay in the more traditional Laurel Wing or the rather more chic and airy Erickson Wing, you'll be treated to some simply stunning water panoramas - there are 200 rooms and suites in total. A favorite place to relax is the outdoor deck, which overlooks Japanese gardens and adjoins the indoor solarium-style swimming pool. The hotel is also home to the excellent Aura Restaurant, which serves fine Pacific Rim-inspired fare.
Try to request a room at the end of the hall in the stylish and modern Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa (9805 Seaport Pl., Sidney, 250-655-9445), as those facing east have particularly striking views through the rooms' huge windows of the Georgia Strait and the many islands just off the Saanich Peninsula. Rooms here are warmly appointed with modern furnishings. If you're looking to spread out a bit, opt for one of the enormous Signature Pier Suites, which have well-stocked kitchens and large balconies. Even standard rooms here are quite spacious, however. This upscale hotel adjacent to the outstanding Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea aquarium isn't actually in Victoria itself, but it's just a 30-minute drive north. And it's a very short drive from the ferry terminal from which you catch boats to mainland BC as well as the lovely Gulf Islands, including gay-popular Salt Spring Island). The hotel is in the center of bustling Sidney, right waterfront Beacon Park and steps from a number of restaurants and shops along Beacon Avenue. Right in the hotel, there's terrific dining - including a nice outdoor seating area - in the the trendy seafood restaurant Haro's. You'll also find a coffeehouse, Georgia Cafe & Deli, off the lobby, and the hotel is home to the Haven Spa, which offers a full slate of intriguing treatments.