Opened in 1908 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Empress is one of the grand château-style railroad hotels that grace many Canadian cities. Designed by Francis Rattenbury, who also designed the Parliament Buildings across the way, the solid Edwardian grandeur of the Empress has made it a symbol of the city. The elements that made the hotel an attraction for travelers in the past—old-world architecture, ornate decor, and a commanding view of the Inner Harbour—are
still here. Nonguests can reserve ahead for afternoon tea (the dress code is smart casual), meet for a curry under the tiger skin in the Bengal Room, enjoy a treatment at the hotel's Willow Stream spa, or sample the superb Pacific Northwest cuisine in the Empress Room, where afternoon tea is served from 11:30 to 5. In summer, lunch, snacks, and cocktails are served on the Terrace Verandah overlooking the Inner Harbour.