I’m particularly partial to places where walking down the street, smiling, and making eye contact with complete strangers earns you a friendly nod. I like cities and towns where locals recognize you might need a bit of help and end up walking you to your destination. I’m into good views of water, mountains, and picture worthy things. I love restaurants with ambiance that have a touch of quirky character, great food, and well-prepared cocktails.
I guess there’s little wonder why I’m suddenly smitten with Victoria, British Columbia. I can’t help but marvel at this city which not only let me play, but fully embraced, my game of “Where’s Mikaela?” (a personal version of “Where’s Waldo?).
You can – and should – check back later to play “Where’s Mikaela” as I take you on a tour of Victoria. But that part of the cowgirl boot wearing, wall climbing, fountain walking extravaganza will have to wait. For now, we’re going to focus on the Executive House Hotel – which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Victoria Seaplane Terminal to which Kenmore Air flies.
Getting to the Executive House Hotel
As you come to the top of the parking lot above the Victoria Seaplane Terminal turn right on Wharf Street. You’ll run into Humboldt Street. Though you might be tempted to keep strolling along the water, take the slight left onto Humboldt. It’s just a couple blocks to the Executive House Hotel and it’s so much better exploring without your bags.
Words of Wisdom: If you happen to get turned around and can’t seem to find the hotel ask the closest Victorian. They might even walk you to your destination.
About the Room
Whether you’re coming for business or pleasure, the Executive House location can’t be beat. While this historic gem isn’t as well known as the international chains nearby, it has arguably one of the best views of the Inner Harbor. Plus, its welcoming staff, pocket friendly rates, and cozy setup make it a fantastic option.
Offering both standard hotel rooms and an apartment style arrangement (complete with a kitchen stocked with cooking tools), you can comfortably come for the night or stay for the week.
Insider Tip: The balcony doors actually open and if a guest were so inclined (not saying I would ever do such a thing), a chair or two might temporarily migrate outside for a sunset cocktail.
Dining Extravaganza – Belmiro’s
Located within the Executive House Hotel, Belmiro’s is relatively new to the Victoria restaurant scene, but they’ve opened with a splash. Begin with a fireside cocktail in the lounge. Their fully stocked bar offers any number of options. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, their La Poire is a refreshing choice. This Grey Goose, pear nectar, and fresh mint concoction comes with the fizzy touch of soda water for a drink which says – relax.
In the dinning room, the black and white décor glows with soft lighting. Large tables and booths fully support celebratory gatherings, while the two person tables nestled against the window beg for an intimate dinner.
The menu offers a variety of land and sea options. Can’t pick? The knowledgeable wait staff is incredibly friendly and more than happy to help. They’ll even let you do a little mix-and-match of proteins and sides.
Salads feature a blue cheese-iceberg lettuce that comes with a soft boiled egg and bacon – it’s divine, but can be a little heavy if you’re ordering an entrée. Instead, check out the garden salad, currently sporting a fantastic array of fall/winter inspired toppings including golden raisins, beets, roasted roma tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds.
Located close to the harbor, they source their fish locally. When in season, the salmon and halibut are a sure bet. During the winter months, I’d opt for the roasted sable fish. Served with a bacon fennel potato ragout, this meaty fish is one you’ll enjoy to the very last bite.
Meat lovers rave about the beef tenderloin, 6-ounces of melt-in-your-mouth protein. Accompanied by a bacon blue cheese mash, this is a meal meant for lingering conversation and perhaps a glass (or two) of wine.
The wine list has several local options both by the glass and the bottle. If you’re unfamiliar with the local selection, ask your waiter. They’ll point you in the right direction.
For dessert, the Hot Truffle Chocolate Cake has a running center of dark chocolate. Topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s definitely big enough to share. But I might not, as the spoon-fork jockeying over the last bite can get pretty intense.
Soon to be introduced is a new menu focused on comfort food. Expect in-house dry aged beef, new twists on warm potato dishes, and roasted winter vegetables. Also rumor has it, a burger bar will be added to the lounge for a design your own patty-bun meal.
Located on the bottom floor of the Executive House Hotel is Doubles Lounge and, its louder, rowdier sister, Bartholomew’s English-Style Pub. Both bars are owned and operated by the hotel, which gives you any number of libation filled options. Yes, you can sit in one bar and enjoy a brew from the tap of the other.
Doubles dark lighting and tall booths make it ideal for a quiet, tucked away conversation. Or saddle up to the bar, where the crowd of regulars will welcome you like one of their own. For a more lively evening, head across the way to Bartholomew’s where live bands and dancing can frequently be found.
If you’re looking to sip something brewed locally, I fully enjoyed the Fat Tug IPA by Driftwood Brewing. It’s available on tap making it all the better. Just be careful, the seven percent alcohol content can sneak up on you.
A huge thank you to the folks at the Executive House Hotel. You were all incredibly welcoming and helpful. An extra special thank you to Eric for giving me some great insider tips and just generally being a good guy. Eric recently snagged a ride to Seattle with us. You can read about his experiences on the Executive House blog.
Also, a big thank you Belmiros for a wonderful dinner. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
Coming next week – “Where’s Mikaela,” a look at some known and lesser known Victoria hot spots. Plus, don’t forget – if you fly Kenmore to Seattle between December 1 and January 5, you’ll earn a free Victoria City Tour.