Originally from Ontario, Roy Keirs moved to Victoria in 1995. He’s considered it home ever since. As a music loving, beer sampling, and hiking enthusiast, Roy loves to share tips about his favorite places to go and things to do in Victoria. And, as the Assistant Guest Services Manager at the Chateau Victoria, he’s often asked him to do just that!
The newly refurbished Chateau Victoria is located just a short walk from the edge of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. From its top floor restaurant – Vista 18 – you can enjoy sweeping views of the harbour, Parliament Buildings, Fairmont Empress, and more. Originally built as condos, the generously sized rooms offer guests a comfortable place to retreat after exploring the city.
On its ground floor, the hotel is home to Clive’s – a swanky craft cocktail bar known for house-infused bitters and snazzy libations. It was here where Roy and I spent a few moments while he shared his inside scoop on where to go and what to do.
Do you come to Clive’s often?
Fairly regularly. Often when I’m coming it’s after a performance when I want a guaranteed great drink and quieter atmosphere.
One of the best things about coming here is you can just tell Jayce (Clive’s Executive Bar Keep) what sort of booze you like and which direction you want to go – savory, sweet, sour – and he’ll make it happen.
(Roy is a tenor in Victoria’s CarpiCCio Vocal Ensemble. They have semi-regular performances throughout the area.)
Beyond a visit to Clive’s, what are some of your go-to activities?
I love to get out in nature, whether that’s walking through one of the fantastic parks in town or heading to Goldstream. That’s one of the amazing things about Victoria. You can experience all the best parts of the city and then be surrounded by trees in 20 minutes or less.
What are the best parts of the city?
The food and beverage scene. It’s just incredible here. Restaurants are really focused on using fresh, local ingredients. And the microbrewery scene is just exploding.
One of my favorite things to do is a DIY pub crawl. You hit a few pubs. At each one, you get a small bite and try a local brew. It’s just the best.
Roy’s DIY Pub Crawl Recommendations
Scattered throughout town, pick and one or a few to visit on a self-guided pub crawl walking tour.
Garrick's Head Pub
One of the oldest English pubs in all of Canada – Garrick’s Head Pub transports you to another world. Tucked into Victoria’s historic Bastion Square – the pub opened in 1867. Here, the deep fried pickles are a favorite. Beer battered, they offer delightfully salty and sour crunch. Pair them with a pint of Victoria brewed Fat Tug IPA by Driftwood Brewery.
Don’t be fooled by the industrial chic décor. Commons is deeply in touch with its down in the dirt roots. They don’t just tout farm-to-table cuisine. They practice it. Ten months out of the year (the viable growing months) their kitchen is supplied with organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs from their local farm. They raise their own grass-feed livestock. And, they source sustainable seafood. Pub crawlers will dig their happy-hour selections, including ½-price oysters (served raw and cooked). They pair well with a locally brewed pint of Phillips Blue Buck.
Bard and Banker
Gathering for a pint and a bite has always brought strangers and friends together. So it’s only fitting Bard and Baker – an establishment opened to do just that – made the historic building at the corner of Fort and Government its home. Originally a bank, the interior is as elegant as its stone exterior. Mussels are the go-to here. Poached in a white wine and leek sauce, they come served with fries and fresh slices of baguette. They pair excellently with a pint of Hoyne’s locally brewed Off the Grind. (As an added bonus, there’s live music daily!)
Live music’s the name of the game at this downtown pub, where nightly shows feature performers of all genres. But the food at Darcy’s Pub doesn’t disappoint either. Order up some Phillips BBQ jumbo wings and pair them with a pint of Phillip’s Hop Circle IPA.
The focus here is beer. Locally brewed, hop filled goodness, poured to perfection. The Drake’s menu is comprised of West Coast Craft Beer – primarily from Victoria. They offer a British pub-style counter service, so make sure you belly up to the bar if you plan to order. Their menu is designed for grazing, including meat boards and tapenade toasts. Taps rotate daily. So give the bartender a little insight into what you like and they’ll guide you to perfection. Or order Hoyne’s pilsner. You can’t go wrong with that one!
Exposed wood beams and brick walls set the stage perfectly for Canoe Brewpub’s sultry and unpretentiously flavor-forward menu. From beers to bites, they locally source and handcraft with care. Don’t limit yourself to just one pour. Their beer flights feature distinctly different pours and pair excellently with their meat and cheese plate.