A Haven of Victorian Elegance
By Chris McBeath
Victoria. It evokes images of picturesque gardens and turn of the century homes. Of high tea at the Empress Hotel, horse drawn carriages and the grandeur of harbourview Parliament Buildings. It's a city filled with romantic jewels ... and Humboldt House is one of them.
Located on a quiet, tree-lined street, Humboldt House Bed & Breakfast is within walking distance to all of Victoria's restaurants and attractions - two blocks to the Empress and Inner Harbour, three blocks from the city's shopping centre and only one block from beautiful Beacon Hill Park.
Built in 1893, this charming cream and white trimmed house has been renovated in every detail to reflect its Victorian heritage and from the outside, looks like a comfortable family home. Inside, however, the warmth of its welcome takes hold.
The front parlour is lavishly furnished with thick velvet drapes, cozy sofas and a well stocked library that includes plenty of sightseeing suggestions and menus from recommended restaurants. It's a perfect spot to plan your sightseeing itinerary: sitting in front of a blazing fireplace with a welcoming glass of sherry and home-baked sweets.
But this is just a sampling of what Humboldt House has to offer because once you've discovered any one of its six rooms, you'll simply want to cocoon yourself in their romance and pampered privacy. While all rooms have oversized Jacuzzi tubs, wood-burning fireplaces and luxurious linens, each is distinctly decorated with a different theme. In the Oriental and Mikado rooms, you’ll relax amidst ornately carved furnishings and sexy black Jacuzzi tubs surrounded by bonsai trees and Asian styled lattice screens.
Edward's room evokes images of Colonial India, richly decorated in burgundy fabrics and mahogany wood trim. The Gazebo Room, themed as a garden, has hand-painted floral vines winding their way up the vaulted ceiling while the Celebration Room is a Shangri-la that's wrapped in white linens and lace.
And what could be more romantic than breakfast in bed? Using an ingenious two-way butler's pantry, a basket is delivered into your room, complete with champagne and gourmet delights like eggs Benedict or seafood crepes. Unlike many B&B's, breakfast here is a deliciously private affair.
When you're ready to venture forth from Humboldt's safe haven, Victoria is at your feet.
First, there's St. Ann's Academy next door which, like Humboldt House, is one of the city's lesser known jewels. Built by the Sisters of St. Ann in 1871, this former school and convent how houses government offices but its chapel is open to the public. As Victoria's original Roman Catholic Cathedral, set amidst a thriving apple orchard, St. Ann's contains beautifully gilded and ornately hand-carved altars, delicate ceiling carvings, original oil paintings and historic sculptures.
Although Victoria is an ideal walking city, Cycle Victoria Rentals can add a little pep to your foot power with its bicycles, tandems and nifty one-passenger scooters. You'll need a class 5 driver's license for the scooters and boy, are they fun, adding a whole new dimension to most sightseeing experiences. A brief training session around the parking lot is all most people need to feel safe and then, armed with helmet and map, you'll be ready for the road. Rather than adding to the congestion of downtown traffic, our suggestion is to scooter elsewhere - through the residential areas towards Craigdarroch Castle; in and around Beacon Hill Park, over to Oak Bay and the perimeter road that's open to the Pacific Ocean or even across the viaduct towards Fort Rod Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.
If you prefer someone else to do the driving, then opt for a tour in a horse drawn carriage, especially at night when you can snuggle beneath warm blankets.
Start your evening in the front parlour at Humboldt House, in front of a blazing fire and surrounded by the elegance of the Victorian era. Let it fuel your imagination because when your carriage arrives, you'll feel as if you've been cast back in time. Combined with the rhythmic clip clop of the horses hooves, the ride becomes a magical experience ..... as will your entire stay be at Humboldt House.
If You Go:
Humboldt House B&B
867 Humboldt Street
Victoria BC V8V 2Z6
Tel: (250) 383-0152
Fax: (250) 383-6402
Innkeeper: David Booth
Vancouver and other Lower Mainland travelers: B.C. Ferries accommodates travelers from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay terminals to Swartz Bay. General Information for sailing schedule is 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779)
From State-side: Either the Victoria Clipper, The Princess Marguerite, The Coho ferry from Port Angeles, or the Washington State Ferries will meet your needs.
Regularly scheduled airline, float plane and helicopter service are also available from Vancouver and Seattle.
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