I always make a point of stopping by The Bengal Lounge at The Fairmont Empress when I'm in Victoria. But this time around, my only encounter with the grande dame was this photo I took yesterday after arriving via Black Ball Ferry's M.V. Coho from Port Angeles.
The Bengal Lounge has a colorful history, opening as the Coronet Lounge in 1954 and having Victoria's first cocktail license -- reportedly only the second issued in British Columbia. Nearly six decades later, it's still a vibrant venue on Victoria's lounge scene. It continues to offer its legendary curry buffets at lunch and dinner, along with live jazz on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Earlier this year, The Bengal Lounge was trying to find a way to pump up the business on those quiet Thursday nights. Along comes The Bengal Affair, held each third Thursday of the month. The evenings combined the cool sounds of local DJs with sensual lighting to transform the colonial room into a hip 'n trendy nightclub. Guests dressed to see and be seen, with their images captured paparazzi style and shared on social networks.
In lieu of a cover charge, donations were requested for Free The Children, which sponsors Adopt a Village. The organization has built more than 650 schools and school rooms around the world and provides innovative educational programming in North America and the U.K. Following the five Bengal Affairs, The Fairmont Empress raised $10,000 to build a school in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya.
Photos by Sue Frause
The Bengal Lounge looks so good. I like how the vines covering some walls aside. Looks like I have to stop by and visit the place.
Yes, The Bengal Lounge is really the perfect place for a cocktail. Big comfy overstuffed chairs and attentive wait staff. The Empress is truly the "grande dame" of Victoria!
Just a correction regarding the first cocktail lounge in Victoria - that was the Strathcona Room which opened July 1, 1954 in the Strathcona Hotel. The lovely and exotic Bengal lounge opened later in 1954. My wife and I go there about twice a year as a special treat.
Oh, good to know. Is the Strathcona Room still operating? I've heard of the hotel. Thanks!
Hi Sue, yes the Strathcona Hotel is still in operation although the old cocktail lounge was converted into a hillbilly bar back during the Setale Worlds Fair in 1962.
I wrote a brief history of the Satrathcona Room which can be found on my blog: http://raincoasthistory.blogspot.ca/2007/09/strathcona-room-1954.html
I am enjoying your blog, Closet Canuck - many thanks and Happy 2013 to you and your family.
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