Location: On my first trip to Victoria I decided to stay somewhere other than the larger chain hotels and major tourist hotels and stumbled across the Oswego hotel online. It’s website looked alright and although not located right on the harbour it didn’t look that far away from the Clipper Ferry terminal from which I would be arriving into Victoria from, so thought I’d give it a try.
Located about a block and a half away from the ferry terminal and another block south of the Parliament building in a semi residential area of downtown Victoria it is a bit of a walk to get into the heart of the city. That said, it’s very quiet and it’s really not more than 5-10 mins walk before you are in the city centre anyway.
Check-In: The boutique hotel has a small check in desk neatly presented to the right of the main entry door and despite arriving before most guests had checked out from the night before the staff were more than happy to assist me with the check in process and hold my bags before my original room was available. During this process I was offered an upgrade for about $30 to a 1-bedroom suite instead of the studio room I had originally booked, and considering that was available now I decided to take advantage of it. The check in process was pretty standard with no surprise charges so within a few minutes, key card in hand I took the lift to my first floor apartment.
Room: 1-Bedroom Suite: Entering the room I was so glad I took advantage of the upgrade, as this apartment was huge! Despite the fact I was travelling alone the space made it really feel like home instead of just another hotel room. On entering, the small foyer has access to the bathroom to the right and a large storage cupboard on the left before opening up into the main living area. A sofa which folds out to a secondary bed if you have more people staying, flat screen TV, high dining table and a large kitchen relative to the size of the apartment made up the bulk of the space with the corner bedroom with yet another large wardrobe competing the suite.
It felt like walking into a display suite; the very well maintained room was spotless and some thought had been put into the decoration used which for me at least, emphasised something different than your standard hotel. Relaxing music was playing as I entered the room from the docking station which was so subtle yet a great demonstration on the attention to detail this hotel goes to in ensuring that their guests get a good first impression of their rooms. A selection of magazines awaits you on the coffee able as does the hotel compendium.
The floor to ceiling windows dressed with white timber Venetian blinds allowed lots of natural light to enter the suite which was complemented nicely with several warm lamps which made the room look warm and cosy when the sun did go down. If the weather is warm, or you want to get closer to the sun there is a small balcony off the main room with table for two waiting for you. During the day, sitting on the couch with the sun beaming in the window was so comfortable I had a very short nap on the couch before heading out to explore Victoria.
Bed: The bedroom contained a queen size bed with small but effective side tables on each side and a long entertainment style unit on the opposite wall with another TV. I always prefer a king size bed in hotels however in this room it would look too big and besides which, the suite had a homely feeling to it and the queen bed added to the feeling of home. The bed was comfortable and well presented, proving to allow a deep and relaxing sleep that night.
My room was situated on the corner of the building with several floor to ceiling openable windows on two of the walls which, like the main room were dressed with timber Venetians. Although these look great, they aren’t the most practical for blocking out light and I always feel like people can see in through the small gaps even though logically this doesn’t make that much sense. Some pull down roller behinds behind the venetians would add a block out capability but its no deal breaker without these. It’s really nice to have a separate bedroom even when travelling alone – it’s amazing how much better you sleep when the room is more akin to the size of the room you’re used to sleeping in and isn’t cluttered with the usual hotel room accessories.
Bathroom: It feels odd having the bathroom not connected to the main bedroom, but also makes sense if you are utilising the main room as additional sleeping space as then people don’t need to walk through the bedroom to use the bathroom. Regardless of the location the bathroom is nicely fitted out with a large bath, long stone vanity and a separately contained shower. The shower provided a decent flow with ample of hot waked available to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Recreation: For the size of this hotel I didn’t expect a gym or other recreation style activities, and nor did I have time to go looking for them (there may have been a small gym but I didn’t see it advertised so am assuming there wasn’t). The lovely city of Victoria is on your doorstep and a short walk up the hill is Beacon Park, where, if you need to burn off a few holiday calories you could easily go for a nice long run. Otherwise, just explore the pretty city on foot and you won’t need a gym anyway. If however after a day of walking you need to relax, the hotel does offer an in room spa menu provided by a third party.
Internet: I can’t believe I left this off as a section in previous reviews, as I think it’s an essential component to any hotel. The Oswego ticks all the boxes by providing free, that’s right, FREE wired and wireless Internet in every room. You are given a password at check in and from there on in its free Internet. I hate having to pay for Internet after paying for the room, and thus love it when it’s included, which seems to be more often the case in smaller boutique hotels than large chains.
Eat & Drink: When it comes time to eat you have a few options at the Oswego. If you are here for a while or just want your own favourite recipe you can cook yourself up a storm in the well kitted out kitchen which is bigger than the kitchen in some apartments I’ve lived in. If however you’re on holiday and need a break from the kitchen, the O Bistro downstairs serves breakfast, brunch and dinner in a very well presented dining room/patio/lounge. Although I didn’t get a chance to dine here it looked very impressive and the menu , described as dynamic west coast cuisine looked scrumptious yet affordable. Within close walking distance are several other hotel restaurants and then a tad further in town there are plenty of other food options available.
Staff: Friendly, professional and upmarket, yet still down to earth are good statements to describe the staff here. Only staying the one night I didn’t get to interact with them very often but they were helpful in pointing out local attractions, making sure I had arrangements for after checking out and demonstrating a genuine interest in ensuring they could make my stay as comfortable and easy as possible was great. I’ve mentioned it before but the suite room and the way the hotel is set up, even the placement in tree lined street of a semi residential looking area made it feel very comfortable and homely. This comfortable feeling was enhanced by the staff’s can do attitude and friendly dispositions.
Not that I’ve ever had a problem in Canada, however I was pleased to note that the Oswego is also a TAG approved LGBT friendly hotel. I hadn’t heard of this approval before so did a bit of research and found it means the hotel isn’t just saying gay friendly to get the pink dollar, but a hotel must also ensure they run their business and treat their employees and their guests in a non discriminatory manner. I prefer the sound of this concept of LGBT friendly as opposed to just putting a flag on the window.
Overall: The stylish design and homely feel to the suites makes this hotel a great choice for a stay in Victoria as long as you don’t mind having to walk for 5-10mins to get into the centre of the city. The smaller size of this hotel also makes it feel more relaxing and personal and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like being lost in a crowd. The distance from the centre of town is a slight downside, but if you’re staying for a while or for work sometimes it’s nice to be slightly away from it all anyway. That said, it’s only 5-10 mins and its much closer than that to the ferry terminal, so if that’s your mode of arrival or departure you definitely won’t need a taxi. I had a great stay here and I’d consider staying here again on my next trip to Victoria.
I’ve also decided to start adding a rating to each InBed review I do (perhaps I’ll extend this to the InFlight reviews later). For now the unit of measurement will be the pillow, and the Oswego earned 4 out of 5 pillows during my stay.