I knew we had picked the right Victoria bed and breakfast when we walked in the front door and saw this bawdy, blue-haired broad…
This work, “Maria de Medici,” was one of many beautiful and strange creations hidden around the Albion Manor, a Victoria, BC bed & breakfast owned by innkeeper and artist, Fernando Garcia. The house is a treasure chest of beautiful and eccentric, sometimes political works of art. Many are Fernando’s own works, others things he and partner, Don Halton, have collected on their travels around the world. Everything was full of color and life! This is no starched and stuffy old B & B.
When we were planning our trip to Victoria, I was interested in experiencing the city’s famously well-preserved British heritage and looked into Victorian-era B & B’s. Don and Fernando graciously offered to host our stay. I didn’t realize how unique the place would turn out to be.
The Albion Manor has eight rooms plus a private cottage, with a bedroom, living room, and full kitchen.
Because we booked at the last minute, we had to switch rooms after the first night. But this meant we got to stay in two wildly different rooms. The “Rubens” room was the first…
This was the biggest, but most traditional of the rooms we saw. The former master bedroom features an intricate mahogany four poster bed and beautifully carved black oak fireplace. The bathroom is full of light, and had a separate shower plus bath with jacuzzi tub.
The best part of this room is the private deck overlooking home’s colorful garden and quiet street. The house is in the historic James Bay neighborhood and the tree-lined street is filled with other lovely Victorian homes.
The room we stayed in our second night, though, was my favorite: “Henry VIII.” This stunning bold room has another intricately carved wooden bed that (I just learned from their website!!!) was used on the set of the Academy Award-nominated film, “Elizabeth,” starring Cate Blanchett. I don’t know how the heck they got it, but I’ll try to find out.
This colorful basement-level room is a bit darker than the Rubens room, only having one window facing the side of the house, but in this context, it adds to the mood. My favorite decoration is the creatively painted ceiling with quirky images of Henry VIII and scenes of the English monarchy.
Over breakfast one morning, all the other guests and I chatted about what we loved in our rooms. After breakfast, we did a quick tour to show off our rooms and see the others. My other favorite (shared by two female friends visiting from Seattle and Texas), is the “Michelangelo” room. This suite has a clawfoot bathtub and a hand-painted ceiling inspired by the namesake artist’s famous frescos.
Oh, and about those breakfasts…
The breakfasts are works of art of their own right. Don worked behind the scenes to craft these beautiful meals, and Fernando served us.
Last, but not least, the Art on the grounds!
The Albion Manor’s website lists, “art with a capital A” as one of the amenties. And they aren’t lying. There was so much art hidden around, I couldn’t get the stories of them all. One of my favorite works was this one, “The Patron Saint of Innkeepers,” showing the long toiling “innkeeper” shackled by his mortgage. I asked Fernando if he felt shackled by his mortgage and he laughed, “there’s nothing easy about running a B&B. It’s a LOT of work!”
I wish I could tell you the stories of all these pieces but we didn’t have time to have Fernando give us the full tour. It’s a big collection!
Other things to know:
The Albion Manor is just a five minute walk from the Ferry Terminal, and a ten minute walk from downtown. It was easy to see all of Victoria’s many attractions without renting a car, but there is plenty of parking in the large driveway and street if you do.
When we were there, Don and Fernando had just received their 2015 Trip Advisor Hall of Fame certificate. We also spotted an award on the mantle that said booking website BedandBreakfast.com rated the house one of the “Top 10 B & B’s in Canada” in 2013. With it’s fun mix of creativity and comfort, I can certainly see how Albion Manor made the list!
Albion Manor Bed & Breakfast
224 Superior Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 1T3
Rooms start at $109.