Enjoying The Butchart Gardens and High Tea at The Empress


Writing this from Victoria, British Columbia aka the sister city of Ottawa, Ontario where I’m from. It’s been a while since I visited Victoria and believe it or not, I’m at the Laurel Point Inn which is a fine establishment that I organized an Annual General Meeting at 6 years ago in my “previous life”, random isn’t it? Besides that walk down memory lane, spent the day strolling around The Butchart Gardens and slowly sipping on cascade peppermint tea. If you like peppermint gum and loathe caffeine, it’s simply the best choice at The Empress, I assure you…

Today was the first real day of the #ExploreBC road rally. Myself and Brendan met in the lobby at 7am and we headed to the ferry for Vancouver Island. After a two short hour ride we were in Swartz Bay and on our way to the Butchart Gardens, what a place. I’m not a big garden guy but that place was serene and if you’re depressed or sick, I think it will heal you! It was like walking around holding hands with Eckhart Tolle while he read me “The Power of Now”, for real. That sorta sums it up but there is more…

The Butchart Gardens were created in 1904 by Mrs. Butchart in an effort to take the old worked out quarry site that was owned by her husband and transform it into something beautiful. The gardens occupy 55 of the 130 acre estate and it’s are mind blowing. The amount of care and consideration is just astonishing. I spoke with one of the gardeners and she told me that in high season which is approaching, there are usually 500+ staff and I believe it.

There are numerous sights to see but some of the most popular are the Japanese Gardens, Sunken Garden and of course the Rose Gardens. Personally, I fell in love with the Sunken Garden and there is this massive mound in the middle that you can climb up via a well placed staircase and overlook the entire Sunken Garden in all its splendor. I’m not exaggerating that it’s a place where I found myself sitting on a bench with a smile and a clear mind as though I was a vegetable, very relaxing.

I wouldn’t go there with my friends but I most certainly would with any other company I keep now or in the future. Long story short, I recommend you visit and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to see it. I saw these kids chasing butterflies or something, they seemed so happy but I digress… That said, supposedly it’s even more beautiful in mid July, we are still technically early in the season, fyi. The plants sent a sort of sonic boom through my brain but supposedly it’s even more of a scene in full bloom, makes sense doesn’t it?

After that we made our way to the Laurel Point Inn that is situated in the downtown core of Victoria. I really love this place and as you know, I have a history here. I wish I remembered the ladies name who I did all that work with countless years ago but let’s be real, things change and nothing is constant who knows if “she” even works here anymore? Suffice to say the place is top class and when I was parking the car with my hooded sweatshirt a lady asked me if I was the painter, ha.

Not long after checking in we were off to The Empress for High Tea. It’s basically a fancy sitting area where people slowly but surely sip their tea, eat their cucumber and ham sandwiches, scones and divine desserts. It’s the kind of place where you arrive with someone special and enjoy each others company surrounded by opulence and have every opportunity to ask the more than helpful staff for anything your little heart just may desire. I really enjoyed it but could see my parents loving it if that makes sense to you?

I’m 100% off the caffeine so I opted for the cascade peppermint tea, I can’t even write that while keeping a straight face but yeah and guess what, it was delicious. It’s naturally decaffeinated and I’m a convert. In case you’re wondering The Empress is run by the Fairmont and it’s one of the iconic buildings in the harbor area, you can’t miss it and it’s a stones throw from the Parliament.

The time is 4:49PM and I’m getting ready for an interesting evening that starts with a ferry ride from the Victoria Habour Ferry that will take us to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and Guesthouses. I’ve never been there so I really have nothing to say on the topic, strange I know. We’ll see where the evening takes us and I’m only sure of two things right now and that is that it involves beer and a ferry, the rest is unknown aka the way I like it…

I’m here with the Explore BC Project, to learn moreΒ  visit the Tourism BC Facebook Page and look up #ExploreBC on Twitter.

Tips hat,

Author: SHABL

Rob has been traveling the world and living abroad for over a decade. The goal was to stop having a boring life and it turned into something far greater. He's worked with national tourism boards and been mentioned in National Geographic. These days he lives abroad and loves business, technology, the tropical lifestyle, good food and travel.

20 thoughts on “Enjoying The Butchart Gardens and High Tea at The Empress

  1. Excellent, am definitely adding this to my list, but I refuse to have peppermint cascading tea….haha

  2. This absolutely speaks to me! There’s something just a bit Alice in Wonderlandish about the gardens to me. I would love to see these gardens in person. Funny… I don’t do caffeine either. I’d rather like a cup of peppermint tea please. I enjoy your sense of adventure and am looking forward to reading about where the evening takes you.

    1. If you like Alice in Wonderland, I can assure you that the evening dove deep down the rabbit hole but luckily spat me back out to continue this quest. All joking aside, I didn’t see one person who wasn’t liking it there it was just #peaceful and #sublime.

      Sorry took a while to approve, first time comments get locked in moderation!


  3. The Butchart Gardens has a whimsical atmosphere to it! It looks like a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland! Do they have outdoor cafes within the vicinity of the gardens?

    1. Whimsical is most certainly the right word and I even felt a bit like the Mad Hatter at times, it’s true. They do have outdoor cafes and rumor has it a “High Tea” that rivals the Empress according to our water taxi driver named Reg.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Not that I am ever going to have one myself but I wonder if they do weddings at Butchart Gardens. Seems like a dream venue. I remember being blown away by it as well…that Mrs. Butchart must have been some lady!

    Empress Tea Room, yes – was hoping for some video footage of your tea party? I have a wonderful memory of that place, a massive tea party with all the ladies from my mom’s side of the family. I also vaguely remember there being mimosas and finger sandwiches but maybe that part was just a dream. So nice to be doing it all over again via my laptop whilst in Sweden – thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Who says you can’t get married at Butchart Gardens? Also who says you can’t get married in a theme wedding, an “Alice in Wonderland” theme party!? Why not!?

      Large groups of ladies seems like a natural fit for the tea parties.I did not bring my gopro and already regretting it. Glad you’re enjoying it and soon things are going way more off the beaten path, madame.

      Tips hat,

  5. Fantastic, looks like a backdrop for some sort of Victorian-era-esque film set in the UK somewhere… hard to imagine sometimes that we have such beautiful places to visit (practically) in our own backyards, but yet we travel half a world away…
    Was the hotel room in the pic within the same hotel/the Empress? Looks very flash πŸ˜‰
    The desserts looked delicious, I hope you enjoyed them! I especially love those little macaroons, really seem to be all the rage lately… mmm… definitely treats to savor over coffee/tea and intimate conversation, I agree…

    1. The place was stunning and quickly realized the ridiculous amount of upkeep to ensure “Wonderland” is perfect. As Canadians we are blessed with incredible diversity.

      The hotel shot is the Laurel Point Inn and I didn’t have a dessert lol, we packaged them and gave em away. :]

  6. Ahhh…I remember butchart gardens…simply breathtaking. That sixth picture has already made me want to jail break out of this office and jump on a flight to BC. Well done, you’ve just made me question my entire “to-do-list” for today.

    1. I hope SHABL is making you question the entire “to-do list” ever. All that said, it’s the occasional mindless moment you spend on a bench in a setting like this that reminds you why it’s all worth it.


      1. Wow, those gardens look so breathtakingly beautiful. I love tea time because it’s code for dessert time in the middle of the day. My inner six-year-old rejoices.

        1. Never thought of it like that but makes perfect sense. Saw many tables had skipped the sandwiches and went straight for the scones and dessert.

  7. Beautiful photos of the gardens and tea at the Empress no less! How sophisticated is that? Now I am envious.

    1. Thanks, it was a memorable day and a great way to start the trip. Definitely worth it if you are in the area.

  8. HAHA.. The painter.. Loved that. Although with the tea room it looks all posh, would have been a good time for the ol Top Hat. πŸ™‚ Great pics though and even though I’m not a garden guy (whatever that means), it actually seems like somthing i would check out when i eventually visit BC.

    1. I hear you about gardens but as you mention, something worth checking. There were countless jokes at tea about top hats and the lack of.

      Good to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *