As one of the top rated boutique hotels in Victoria, British Columbia, The Oswego Hotel gets by beautifully on the simple pillars of good hospitality, great guest rooms, and excellent food and wine.
Although you’d expect nothing less; as BC’s capital and one of the most pleasant small cities in the world (something that’s been heralded in various publications within the past few years), Victoria is an absolute delight when it comes to eating well and drinking even better, with produce that rivals the best of British Columbia thanks largely to its sub-Mediterranean climate and the various micro-climates nearby.
It’s one of the best food cities in North America, a fact locals are more than proud of as they resist chains and champion boutiques and family-owned restaurants. It’s why you’ll find some of the best dining experiences in Canada in this very walkable city, from award-winning fish and chips down at the colourful Fisherman’s Wharf, to farm-fresh, produce-forward eateries dotted around lively Inner Harbour.
The intimacy that sweeps through Victoria has also given rise to a very welcoming, warm hospitality scene, which is what The Oswego taps into so well.
A short five minute walk from the Inner Harbour, The Oswego Hotel benefits from its quiet neighbourhood location tucked away from the city’s major hub.
There’s a definite sweet spot here, being just as close to the must-visit Fisherman’s Wharf where those aforementioned fish and chips (Barbs) can be found, along with incredible Whale Watch tours (I saw no less then four humpbacks and at least six orcas when I went in November) and charming boathouses.
You’re also a short walk to the incredibly relaxing Ogden Point breakwater walk and trendy James Bay village. That’s easy on-foot access to Victoria’s central Downtown and Inner Harbour areas, plus the local favourites. As far as location goes, this is the top pick in Victoria.
O Cafe & Bistro doesn’t make any grand statements as far as aesthetics go. Like the vibe at this 80-room hotel, it’s all decidedly casual, coaxing with its friendly layout which is literally just a few tables in front of a well-stocked bar, most valuable for the concise list of local wines.
Live music sweeps through the small space every Wednesday and Sunday evening, fitting in well with the bistro’s intimacy as the sun goes down. By morning, the place is a bright and chirpy hub of good local coffee from boutique roasters Bows & Arrows and fresh, enormous pastries by Bond Bonds Bakery.
Night is really when this place kicks off though, with a small and high-quality menu that seems to change with season. This dessert photo should give a good indication of what to expect; home-made style comfort food lifted by Victoria’s wonderful produce.
Contemporary and modern is the brief here, with my apartment-style one bedroom suite feeling like it’s been lifted off the pages of an interior design magazine. There’s nothing too risqué about the design, all sleek and comfortable with a generous amount of space.
The real selling point here, aside from comfort and location, is the all-encompassing view, which includes the exceptional Legislative Assembly of British Columbia building, an impressive Romanesque building that stands stately over the Inner Harbour, looking not too dissimilar from the famous Berlin Dome. At night, it is lined with glowing lights, dotted around it’s perfect symmetry for a spectacular feature of Victoria’s relatively flat cityscape. Viewed from the Oswego, the illuminated dome is an inspiring sight.
While there is a small, perfectly sufficient gym, this boutique features no pool like many other of the city’s hotels. Long-term guests may decry this omission, but given Victoria’s mild, temperate climate, it’s unlikely you’d be filled with the desire for a quick dip.
As mentioned above, Oswego is all about making guests feel like part of a family. And the service is very reliable as a result. A positive of losing my passport (leaving it on board the flight down from Vancouver) was being able to test this, with the hotel making all the necessary calls straight away and making sure to keep me well updated on the progress.
Like most places in Canada, the price fluctuates quite regularly based on season. So it’s best to check their website and book in advance.
I wouldn’t hesitate to mention The Oswego Hotel to anyone heading along to Victoria, BC – which I strongly recommend. The affordable price point, warm and inviting service, excellent food and wine, and comfortable rooms is more than enough, and then you have the location top of all that.
Most of Victoria’s best hotels are all scrunched up and focused around the Inner Harbour and Downtown, and the closest to the Oswego – the Coast Victoria Hotel and Embassy Inn – are much larger and slightly more costly. This would mean Oswego is the only boutique hotel within easy walking distance to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ogden Point, which certainly works in this charmer’s favour.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Address: 500 Oswego St, Victoria, BC V8V 5C1, Canada
Contact: +1 250-940-7500
The writer stayed as a guest as The Oswego Hotel
Feature image supplied. All other images by Chris Singh unless otherwise noted.