Holiday

Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C.

Last summer when I visited Victoria, British Columbia for the first time, I was so enchanted by its charm and character that I didn’t think it could ever get better. This weekend as I was hosted by Magnolia Hotel & Spa to experience Victoria during the holidays, I was proved wrong—it gets better every time you visit.

It’s exciting to experience the magic of Christmas far beyond the borders of your own home. I decided to bring my mother along on the girls-only weekend, and as soon as we were off the three-hour ferry ride from Anacortes to the Sidney ferry terminal on Vancouver Island, it was Christmas carols all the way. 

Since we arrived late morning, we spent some time exploring before checking in to The Magnolia. Our first stop was Crust Bakery for lunch and post-lunch treats (the black current tart is not to be missed). Another place to spend some significant time is Russell’s Books right next door—stacked floor to ceiling with titles, it’s a reader’s paradise. 

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane

However, once we checked into our room at Magnolia Inn & Spa, we found it pretty hard to leave! We were booked in a Diamond Harbor Room with a cozy fireplace that we barely moved away from. The room was clean and elegant, and with a view of the Inner Harbour off in the distance. My favorite part was the Bailey’s hot chocolate nightcap we found waiting for us on the table! It was such a sweet setup and a thoughtful touch that you definitely won’t find at a chain hotel.

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane

We embarked on the Festive Trail bright and early after a restful night. The Magnolia offers a variety of maps tailored to traveler’s interests, giving you 7 to 10 suggestions of where to go if you’re interested in shopping, the Christmas sights, the tea scene, and more all over Victoria. The Festive Trail was perfect for my mother and I—after late morning high tea at Venus Sophia, we headed to the Victoria Public Market for some Christmas gift shopping. It’s stop number 5 on the Festive Trail, and we definitely didn’t leave empty handed.  

Farther down the street, the Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre is definitely a spectacle. Dozens of companies sponsor one Christmas tree each and take it upon themselves to decorate it. Viewers vote for their favorites by donating $1 to charity. There were so many fun trees that it was hard to choose a favorite! 

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
This tree was sponsored by The Magnolia—it's wearing a robe and slippers!

This tree was sponsored by The Magnolia—it's wearing a robe and slippers!

Next on the list, the Gingerbread Showcase, where 20 gingerbread houses are built by chefs who have applied by donating a substantial fee to charity and somehow finding time to schedule in hundreds of hours of work to create stunning works of gingerbread art. Some of them are so intricate it takes a lot of convincing to believe they’re made out of gingerbread at all! 

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane

However, our next event was the one I was most looking forward to all day. I am a s’mores nut (seriously, I eat them for breakfast any time I go camping), and you can make your own right on The Veranda at the famed Fairmont Empress Hotel. My mother and I were right on time at 4:00 p.m., purchased two sets of s’mores ingredients and made ourselves comfortable around the firepit as the sun went down over the harbor. Let me just say, they use Lindt chocolate in their s’mores at the Empress. They are not messing around. For those without a sweet tooth, they also offer hot chocolate (spiked or not) and mouth-watering bratwursts with pretzel buns and the fixings.

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane

Not only is the Empress decked out in twinkle lights holidays, but the Parliament building, boats moored in the Inner Harbor, and surrounding areas are all done up in red, white, and green for the holidays. Despite the gusts of wind and grey skies, the Christmas color and sparkle brings all of the warmth and light you could wish for on a cold December night. After one last hot breakfast at Catalano next door to the Magnolia, my mom and I finished up some last minute shopping on Government Street before catching the ferry back to reality. Victoria is a city that truly embraces the Christmas spirit, and no one does it better than the Magnolia Hotel & Spa!

Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane
Magnolia Inn & Spa’s Festive Trail in Victoria B.C. | truelane

Thank you so much to the Magnolia Hotel & Spa for hosting our stay




12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Men

12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Men | truelane
12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Men | truelane


Lucky for me, the only guys I have to shop for are my brothers, dad, and brother-in-law, all of whom I feel I know pretty well. It can be hard to shop for guys if you aren't in tune with their specific interests—the guitar junkie, the gamer, the fashion fan, the sports addict—sometimes you have to shop for an acquaintance or a lesser-known uncle or cousin, and this is where I hope this guide can spur some ideas. While I tend to go for the outdoorsy items since I like to encourage people to get outside, the Minnetonka Moccasin slippers listed below (as well as their several other style options) are always foolproof. Throw in a case of their favorite beer, a bag of their favorite coffee beans, or a bottle of their favorite liquor and you're set.
 

1. Grado headphones | $79
2. Plaid cap$45
3. Pressurized craft beer growler | $149
4. Ted Baker wool briefcase | $285
5. Patagonia quilted cotton pullover$149
6. Adidas Samba sneakers | $70
7. Cassini telescope | $99
8. Minnetonka Moccasin shearling slippers | $68
9. Jack Wills lounge pants$57

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The 12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Trendsetter

The 12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Trendsetter | truelane
The 12 Gift Guides of Christmas: Trendsetter | truelane


When I was a teenager and just getting into fashion, I wanted the craziest pieces in my wardrobe I could find. I looked to celebrities for fashion inspiration and went thrifting all the time to replicate their style. The biggest designers I could afford were Rebecca Minkoff, and only when she was on a 60% off sale. Even though I can afford what I want these days, I still like to find unexpected pieces in my stocking that are a little flashier or glitzier than I'd normally go for—receiving fashion pieces from friends or family gives me a little reminder to have fun with my style, especially during the holiday season. Here's to keeping things merry and bright.
 

1. Embellished beanie | $9
2. Rebecca Minkoff Julian backpack | $275
3. BaubleBar tassel earring gift set | $58
4. Rent the Runway gift card | varied
5. New York: Through a Fashion Eye | $25
6. Zac Posen handbag | $160
7. Jeffrey Campbell flats | $135
8. Leopard-print mittens | $15
9. Fossil hybrid smartwatch | $155

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