Many older hotels in British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria cater to the tea-and-tour-bus crowd with twee, traditional accommodations. The Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa offers a downtown alternative that’s modern, comfortable, and environmentally conscious.
Located among the condo buildings along Humboldt Street just east of the Inner Harbour (behind the Fairmont Empress Hotel), Parkside emphasizes its “green” features, claiming to be the first resort-hotel in Canada built to LEED Platinum Certification standards. Signs throughout the property tout its environmental credentials, including dual-flush toilets; low-flow showers; the use of natural materials like limestone, slate and granite; parking for electric cars and bicycles; and a “living roof” planted with native species.
The Parkside’s showpiece is its three-story glass atrium, filled with burbling fountains and tropical plants, that links the building’s two towers. It’s an airy green oasis that’s particularly welcoming on a gray day. Just off the lobby is an iPad bar with several devices available for guests’ use.
Beyond the lobby, Parkside’s contemporary business-like decor makes it feel more like a road warrior’s lodging than a destination resort — at least until you start exploring the facilities.
One distinctive feature is the 29-seat movie theater (with sink-into-me comfy chairs) that shows films nightly, beginning with family movies in the early evenings, then more grown-up flicks later on.
The well-equipped fitness room overlooks the ozonated indoor pool (the ozonation significantly reduces the amount of chlorine in the water). There’s a tucked-away rooftop terrace that would be a beautiful spot for the summertime yoga classes.
Tre Fantastico, the excellent independently-run cafe on the lobby level, is serious about its coffee. They also serve breakfast (I can recommend the granola with rhubarb puree and yogurt), sandwiches, salads, and other light bites.
Guest accommodations are in one- and two-bedrooms apartment-style suites, decorated in earthy browns and crisp whites. All 126 units have kitchen facilities, dining areas, and living rooms with sleeper sofas and fireplaces.
The rooms aren’t huge, but there’s adequate space for a family to settle in. And with flat screen TVs in both the bedroom and the living room, you don’t need to fight with the kids (or your partner) over the remote.
The best rooms are on the higher floors overlooking the verdant grounds of St. Ann’s Academy, a national historic site, across the street. Although Parkside isn’t close enough to the harbor for water views, it’s just a short walk from the Royal BC Museum, the Parliament Buildings, and other downtown sights, making it unnecessary to have a car here.
If you’re in town for business, note that the rooms don’t have a work desk, but I was able to set up my laptop at the dining room table, and there are plenty of accessible electrical outlets. Wi-Fi, which is complimentary, worked well.
My one quibble is with the bathrooms. My one-bedroom suite had two — no complaints there — with one en suite in the bedroom and the other off the kitchen. However, there was no door between the bedroom and the bathroom, just a frosted glass panel that shielded the bathtub from view but left the toilet in plain sight. Modest types might prefer to use the second bathroom, adjacent to the kitchen.
I’d also have preferred a shower, rather than just a tub, in the master bath, since you have to walk through the living room to use the shower in the second bath. While it’s not a problem for solo travelers or couples, it’s a little awkward for families or friends traveling together — just a minor complaint in an otherwise solid contemporary property.
Parkside’s high-season rack rates start at C$249 for a one-bedroom suite. Check their website for discounts and deals.
You can also book online at Priceline.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, who also blogs about her culinary adventures at WanderFood. Exterior and lobby photos courtesy of Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa. Room photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Parkside, in partnership with Tourism Victoria, hosted my stay.