Victoria has a vast range of accommodation, with what seems like whole neighborhoods dedicated to hotels. Options range from city resorts and full-service business hotels to midpriced tour-group haunts and family-friendly motels, but the city is especially known for its lavish B&Bs in beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian mansions. Outlying areas, such as Sooke and Saanich, pride themselves
on destination spa resorts and luxurious country inns, though affordable accommodation can be found there, too.
British Columbia law prohibits smoking inside any public building or within 20 feet of an entrance. As a result, all Victoria hotels are completely smoke-free, including on patios and balconies, and in public areas. Only the larger modern hotels have air-conditioning, but it rarely gets hot enough to need it. Advance reservations are always a good idea, especially in July and August. Watch for discounts of up to 50% in the off-season (roughly November to February); though even then you'll need to book, as many rooms fill with retirees escaping prairie winters. Most downtown hotels also charge at least C$15 per day for parking. Ask about phone and Internet charges (these can range from free to excessive) and have a look at the hotel breakfast menu; nearby cafés are almost always cheaper.
Downtown hotels are clustered in three main areas. James Bay, on the south side of the Inner Harbour near the Parliament Buildings, is basically a residential and hotel neighborhood. Bordered by the waterfront and Beacon Hill Park, the area is quiet at night and handy for sightseeing by day. It is, however, thin on restaurants and a bit of a hike to the main shopping areas. Hotels in the downtown core, particularly along Government and Douglas streets, are right in the thick of shopping, dining, and nightlife, but get more traffic noise. If you're willing to walk a few blocks east of the harbor, several quieter hotels and small inns are clustered amid the condominium towers. Vic West, across the Johnson Street Bridge on the harbor's north shore, is another quiet option, but it's a 15-minute walk or ferry ride to the bulk of shopping, dining, and sightseeing. Even so, you won't need a car to stay in any of these areas, and, given parking charges, you may be better off without one.
Outside of downtown, Rockland and Oak Bay are lush, peaceful, tree-lined residential districts; the mile or so walk into town is pleasant, but you won't want to do it every day. The resorts and inns that we've listed farther afield, in Saanich, the West Shore, and Sooke are, for the most part, self-contained resorts with restaurants and spas. Each is about 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, and you'll need a car if you want to make day trips into town.