Monday, March 10, 2014

Dine Around and Stay in Town 2014

Victoria's parallel to Dine Out Vancouver is Dine Around and Stay in Town, which seeks not only to lure foodies to downtown Victoria, but also out-of-towners. This year, it happened to coincide with an old friend of mine recently come back to Victoria, so I finally made my way over there.
I'll post a few dine outs that I had there, but in this post I'll have an overview of getting to Victoria, staying there, and impressions of Dine Around and Stay in Town.

First, if you are going to Victoria specifically for Dine Around and Stay in Town, have a look at the menus first! I cannot emphasize this strongly enough if you are vegetarian or vegan! The choices are very weak, bordering on non-existent. This is not to say that there are no vegetarian or vegan restaurants, or that restaurants do not have vegetarian choices. But for the Dine Around menus, the vegetarian options are lumped together with gluten-free options, and you might be hard-pressed to find yourself a veggie three-course.

If you do not have severe dietary restrictions, then Victoria will probably be a nice change from Vancouver in that you typically get more bang for your buck. Even at $20, you are getting portions that you would normally find at a outside-of-Downtown-Vancouver value eatery. They feed you properly there instead of eroding your wallet with tapas.

Downtown Victoria is small enough to walk just about everywhere, and typically safe (and pretty quiet on the streets) past 9pm during Dine Around and Stay in Town (that is, before the peak tourist season), so you might want to forget about your car and bus it. You can of course plot your own route with the ferry and the local bus, then grab one of the supposed hotel deals, or if you want one-call convenience, you can try Pacific Coach Lines, with which you can book a return ticket and hotel stay.

My travelling companion and I stayed at the Chateau Victoria Tuesday night and departed Friday afternoon. Total cost, including return tickets on the PCL Coach, was $548.10 for March 4-7. Although it was listed on the Dine Around and Stay in Town website, the PCL agent confirmed that there was no special rate -- which led me to suspect that the "room deals" were really just advertisements for off-season rates.

The Chateau Victoria has many plusses:
  • Super-close to the bus depot.
  • Very close to the tourist-worthwhile parts of downtown Victoria.
  • Free apples at the front desk.
    • Tip: Use the ice box provided in your room to get ice and chill your apples. The beer fridge in your room is rubbish when it comes to cooling things.
  • Free Globe & Mail newspaper every morning.
    • Tip: Try to cancel this to save paper if you're not into reading.
  • Free make-your-own coffee and tea, of course.
  • Recently renovated. Clean and feels "new".
  • Vista 18 Restaurant has great views, though you don't need to be a guest to go.
I personally found Victoria boring and the restaurants passable. Not worth the extra expense of going there just to try the food. Try to pair your food expedition with something else to do in Victoria.

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