Hotel Zed is one of the best hotels in Victoria BC for its unique character, colorful decor, and affordable price. This is a full review of my stay.
I hopped on the local bus, just a few minutes walk from the ferry station in Victoria. I proudly presented my Canadian dollars to the machine with the correct change and got my bus pass for the day to head uptown to one of the best hotels in Victoria BC, Hotel Zed, for my first accommodation in the city.
A short 10 or so minutes later and we were already at my stop, or at least I thought we were. I got up quickly, right as the bus started moving again, and I almost fell flat on my face to the horror of those on the full bus.
I could actually hear a synchronized sharp intake of breath by everyone on board until I caught myself as gracefully as a could with my big duffel in hand and quickly jumped off the bus like I knew exactly where I was going. Just a day in the life of me.
The bus incident behind me, I was ready to take on everything that Victoria had to offer. I had barely been in the city for more than an hour, but I already felt weightless in the fact that I was exploring a new country and on the road again.
The views from the bus only made me more enthusiastic for the discoveries ahead of me in Victoria, I could tell already that it would be my kind of place.
Hotel Zed was right across the street from the bus stop so I walked on over and took in my new home for the next two days. There were bright colors popping out everywhere and an old-school ’67 VW hippie van parked out front that immediately reminded me of Scooby Doo.
My initial fondness for the hotel only grew when I walked inside the lobby, smelled the delicious food aromas from the attached restaurant, and took in the retro fixtures and interior design that made me want to whip out my camera and start capturing the quirkiness pronto.
The next two days were a blur between tours and outings around Victoria but I was happy to have such a funky and cool place to come back to each day, to work, or lounge, or flip through comic books at my leisure.
These were my overall thoughts on my stay, the pros and cons, and an idea of what you can expect if you book at Hotel Zed too, and why I think it’s one of the best hotels in Victoria BC.
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Why Hotel Zed is one of the best Hotels in Victoria BC – A Review
Hotel Zed’s whole premise is about being unique and funky, especially compared to the rest of the hotel industry in town. They call themselves “rebels against the ordinary,” which I would agree with after my stay there.
I have to say that I love how they’ve created such a funky experience for guests that is completely different from any other hotel stay you’ll come across.
I actually kept forgetting that I was staying in a hotel because it reminded me so much more of the character you usually find at hostels.
It was fun, playful, and colorful with a ton of hostel-esque type things (downstairs ping pong room or Jenga anyone?), but with a privacy and cleanliness, might I add, that generally only comes with hotels.
For those of you from America, Zed, is the British pronunciation of the letter “Z”. Z is by far the wackiest letter of the alphabet so I found this fitting.
The one concern that happens with hotels or hostels that are marketed as “retro” is the question of how many hipsters work at such establishments.
Now, I have nothing against hipsters, unless they’re the kind that are super-judgey and condescending, which unfortunately are the ones I’ve found at quite a few of the “cool” accommodations I’ve come across before.
I can happily say that I didn’t get any of that vibe going on at Hotel Zed. Everyone, for the most part, was over-the-top helpful and happily answered any questions I had about the property or Victoria in general.
The drivers of the VW shuttle van especially stood out to me as some of the friendliest people I’ve met in the hotel industry.
There is SO much at Hotel Zed to keep you happy and busy, where do I even begin?
One of my favorite aspects about the hotel was how even though it had the retro atmosphere to it, the connectivity was anything but old-school. The Wi-Fi was fantastic (always first priority for a blogger), and you could easily plug USB chargers into the TV.
There was a rotary phone in the room, which I absolutely loved, although I definitely had to read their ready-made instructions to figure out how to use it properly.
There was also a comic book ready for you to read as soon as you walked into the room, as well as funky wall art and general groovy decor.
Outside of the rooms, there were free bikes to use (and even bike friendly rooms), free longboards to borrow, and a pool area that included a hot tub, sauna, and an epic bright pink waterslide.
I mean, how could this not be one of the best hotels in Victoria BC with a hot pink waterslide?
In the lobby, there was a ping pong table downstairs, typewriters where you could type out postcards, tons of board games, a vinyl listening station, and free coffee all day.
They, of course, also have the VW shuttle which I’ll discuss more down below, but that was by far one of my favorite amenities due to the location. If you’re traveling with pets, they also have pet-friendly rooms available if you book in advance.
The location is considered uptown and about a 30 minute walk from downtown, although there is a lot of different buses throughout the day that go down Douglas Street where the hotel is located.
The hotel is a little far from the main action in downtown but I still found it easily accessible, especially with the VW shuttle van that I used twice.
It was also nice staying in a different part of town to gain a new perspective of the city. In addition, there are the free bikes you can rent at any given time, and if you’re used to walking long distances like I am, 30 minutes is not too bad of walk at all if it’s nice weather.
The hotel is situated just across the street with the Mayfair Shopping Center and the Galloping Goose cycling trail as well, depending on what type of activities most interest you.
Funky Shuttle van
My favorite aspect about the hotel was this funky shuttle van that dropped you off wherever you wanted to go around downtown, and oftentimes the journey was just as fun as the destination. Once you’re done in town for the day, there are a few pick-up stops where the shuttle can come and whisk you back to the hotel, you simply have to reserve it ahead of time.
The shuttle was especially nice when I checked out and had to carry my luggage with me down near Fisherman’s Wharf on the other side of town. It was a relief to not have to deal with another bus ordeal with all my stuff, and be dropped off exactly where I needed to be.
The Ruby Restaurant
The Ruby is the restaurant that’s attached to the lobby and a great place to grab breakfast (or lunch) before heading out for a day of sightseeing. The prices are pretty average for Victoria standards, I think I paid about $20 CAD with tax and tip included for breakfast and coffee.
I found their breakfast to be healthy, fresh, and delicious. They had The Lumineers spinning on vinyl while I was eating, and it was the perfectly relaxing atmosphere to get some much needed work done and enjoy a hearty meal.
They actually specialize in rotisserie chicken dishes, but I didn’t get to try any during my stay unfortunately! However, I would highly recommend the Skinny Hash on the menu. So yum!
What I loved about Hotel Zed were the little touches around the place. You could tell that the retro fixtures and interior design had a lot of thought behind them, and they did a great job of making you feel at home in a funky atmosphere. I kind of felt like I had stepped into an Instagram dream as soon as I saw the lobby.
This goes along with the detailed touches around the place, but I adore accommodations that have character, and Hotel Zed had a whole lot of it.
Between the cork board in the room with hilarious facts about the hotel and how-to instructions for the rotary phone, to the VW shuttle, funky decor, and vinyls, personality oozed from every crevice at this place.
The bed was another level of comfort and so incredibly cozy, I immediately fell asleep as soon as I climbed into it for both nights of my stay.
The laid-back nature and communal hostel-esque feel to the place were definite pros as well, in addition to the affordable price of the rooms that start at around $110 CAD per night.
The main bummer about my stay was the thin walls. I could hear whole conversations being had by my neighbors, who, mind you, were not the quietest of people by any means. And I was woken up once around 3am when they came back to their room and continued to have a 30 minute conversation and fell asleep with their TV on.
Luckily, I tend to fall back asleep pretty easily so this wasn’t too much of an issue for me, but if you’re a light sleeper you may want to ask for a room that doesn’t share an immediate wall with another neighbor.
The only other cons I would say are the extra aspects that I simply appreciate when they’re offered to guests by hotels, such as a complimentary breakfast and coffee you can make in your own room.
Other than that, it was just the location that was a little far from town but, as I mentioned above, manageable in a lot of different ways.
Overall, I had a wonderful time at Hotel Zed and would recommend it to any travelers who want to experience a funky cool place to stay that also won’t break the bank. After going over the pros and cons, I truly believe it’s one of the best hotels in Victoria BC.
And this isn’t just for the young “hip” travelers, if you will. Apparently the hotel is a really big draw for families with kids because of how fun and colorful it is, although it’s still a great temporary stay for fellow digital nomads and young business folks like myself as well.
Basically, all age groups and types of people were represented at the hotel, so I’d say it has an appeal for a great variety of people for different reasons, which was just another cool aspect about the place.
Obviously next time I’ll be taking full advantage of that waterslide on a sunny day!
If you’re interested in booking a room at Hotel Zed for your upcoming trip to Victoria, you can check current availability here.
Note: I was hosted by Hotel Zed for my two-night stay, but all opinions, as always, are my own.
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