Completed in 1913, the Hotel Empress is located in downtown Vancouver, bordering Chinatown. It is a prominent historical landmark, that has operated as one of the longest running hotel bars in the city.
Photos FROM VANCOUVER ARCHIVES
The Hotel Empress on 235 East Hastings Street is an eight-storey Edwardian hotel, which commands a prominent place as the tallest building on the north side of the block. The building is also immediately recognizable from a distance by the painted sign on the corner of the west facade.
The value of the Hotel Empress lies in its position in the streetscape of East Hastings Street. Although the seven buildings on the north side of this block - all built between 1901 and 1913 - range in height from one to eight storeys, were designed by seven different architects, and constructed of different materials, they share several features. Together they illustrate the changing use of this area of East Hastings Street from residential to business use and place the district as a shopping and commercial centre for the emerging city of Vancouver in the early twentieth century. The architectural styles speak to the changing public taste from the ornate decoration of the late Victorian era to the more refined ornamentation of the Edwardian age.
Built in 1912-1913 for owner L. L. Mills by architect F.N. Bender, the Hotel Empress is significant because of its considerable height and the narrowness of the East Hastings Street facade. It was purported to be the "world’s narrowest tallest hotel" when built, and is still the only building of significant height in the immediate area. The building, although new, was considered an addition to the older hotel next door at 237 Hastings Street, and was called the "New Empress Hotel" in the 1913 tax assessment. The still-visible fine interior finishes of the Hotel Empress suggest it catered to tourists and business travellers, who were expected after the completion of the Canadian Northern Railway and the Panama Canal.
There is also value in the architectural styling. The building is an oddity as it is very tall and narrow. The pairs of windows emphasize the symmetry of the original design, while the bands of rusticated stone over each pair of windows add refined ornamentation. The name of the building is noted on three forms of signage, including a 1940s neon sign.
- Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The rooms at the Hotel Empress are quaint and many have great views of the city and or mountains because of the height of this building relative to those nearby.
235 E Hastings Street,
Daily - 9am–11pm