Abigail's - A Perfect Place to CelebrateUPDATE ! see below
By Chris McBeath
Abigail's is a charming European-style hotel that has re-kindled many a romance, wooing guests with its polished service, a cozy atmosphere and exclusive, pampering amenities.
Tucked into a peaceful Victoria neighbourhood, just three blocks from the picturesque inner harbour, it makes for a terrific getaway. Park your car or don't even bring it. A short walk away you will discover the world-class Royal BC Museum with its Imax Theatre, the Crystal Gardens, Royal London Wax Museum, the Undersea Gardens, Tally-Ho horse-drawn tours, whale-watching tours, double-decker bus tours, excellent shopping, and - of course - afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. A tour bus will even pick you up at Abigail's door for a trip to the word-famous Butchart Gardens.
Arriving after dark, we were greeted by the warm lights through Abigail's lead-pane Tudor windows. They were a hint of what was to come .... a welcoming foyer filled with turn-of-the-century antiques, English arts-and-crafts decor, and an ambiance that feels distinctly 'old country'.
Attention to detail is the credo of owners Dan and Frueke Behune so that every room is not only superbly decorated, most include fireplaces, private soaker tubs, fresh cut flowers and other romantic touches. We stayed in 'The Foxglove', one of Abigail's celebration suites and definitely a great place to celebrate any occasion whether it be an anniversary, a honeymoon or, as in our situation, a romantic getaway without children.
The four poster queen bed was draped in a goose-down duvet and soft-toned chintz fabrics draped the overhead canopy. A bottle of bubbly was prepared on ice alongside a delicious fruit plate, truffles and other complimentary treats which we shared in front of a wood burning fire.
What really gives this B&B inn such charm are all of its creatively designed angles, archways, and irregular shapes in each room. For example, in The Foxglove a custom arched doorway leads to a luxurious en suite bath complete with sensational Italian marble-tile surround and a double whirlpool/shower tub which we certainly found time to try out! And this is only one of six other 'celebration suites' (part of a million dollar renovation) which all promise the same ultimate romance and luxury.
In the late afternoon we headed down to the guest library to enjoy some quiet music and reading time. Floor to ceiling bookcases offer a number of games and varied reading material. We challenged each other to a game of Mastermind while enjoying a blazing fire, hot apple cider and tasty hors d'oeuvres created by Abigail's chef, Jan Boyd who has cooked for celebrities, dignitaries and royalty. Much of what he creates uses local produce, with herbs and flowers from the hotel's garden.
His culinary magic continued the following morning with our three-course breakfast meal, and by the time it came time to return home, we certainly felt as though we were royalty ourselves. Can it really get any better than this? Abigail's is a pure celebration of romance - a luxurious value that has been recognized by Frommer's 2002 Vancouver and Victoria as the "Best Small Hotel in Victoria". For the last two years Abigails has also been voted the "Best Bed and Breakfast" in the Victoria News Poll. And for four consecutive years, it's been given five stars from Canada Select - one of only 17 such honours in Canada.
But there's more to come.
A little while back, Dan and Frauke Behune spent three months travelling with their family to ten countries in South-east Asia, studying all the very best luxury eco-hotels. Now they're taking what they found, adding a West Coast twist, and incorporating them into a new boutique spa and marina resort in Brentwood Bay, just a few miles north of Victoria. The plans include designs for waterfront rooms with fireplaces serving both indoors and out, ground level rooms with private garden patios and Japanese-style soaking tubs, and a "seaside village" complex that will feature kayaking and outrigger events, a brew pub, art galleries, west-coast cuisine created in an open kitchen, a First Nations themed spa, native-plant gardens, and much more. Scheduled to open in 2003, this new resort promises to be among the finest on the West Coast.
If You Go:
906 McClure Street
Victoria, British Columbia V8V 3E7
Innkeepers: Daniel & Frauke Behune
By ferry: A BC Ferry will carry you and your car from Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (just north of Victoria). It's a spectacular hour-and-a-half voyage. Ferry information at 1-888-223-3779.
By plane: Regularly-scheduled planes serve Victoria from Vancouver, Seattle, and Calgary.
By float plane: For a dramatic arrival in Victoria's Inner Harbour, fly Kenmore Air from Seattle, or take Harbour Air or West Coast Air from Vancouver.
By Helicopter: A Helijet service now operates from Vancouver to Victoria
Small and exclusive, the hotel’s Pearl Spa Treatment Room now offers a variety of massages, pedicures and facials.
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