Humbolt House & Truffles: Terribly Terrific
With all of its history and heritage, Victoria is a living, breathing, tradition. Although many modern accommodations exist, when planning an overnight visit, it’s tempting to stick with the traditional program, which evokes feelings of both romanticism and anachronism.
If giving into such temptation abounds, then a great choice are the properties of Victoria’s Historic Inns. Seven individually-owned and operated properties – two of which your Hedonista has stayed in for a night as a media guest (thank you goes out to the Victoria Tourism Association, Humbolt House, and Dashwood Manor Bed and Breakfast Inn) – are unique in that they are historic properties, have a 4.5+ star rating, and offer the quiet intimacy of a bed and breakfast inn with the added comforts and pampering experiences of a larger luxury hotel (minus the in-house spa, of course). Together they offer numerous “INNovative” packages year-round worthy of consideration, too.
This first article on Victoria’s Historic Inns will review the Humbolt House Bed & Breakfast Inn. Having been rated Victoria’s “Most Romantic Bed & Breakfast” as well as one of the “Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest,” the Humbolt House is located a mere block from Beacon Hill Park and just two blocks from the Fairmont Empress, Parliament Buildings, Royal BC Museum, and Victoria’s Inner Harbour. This Victorian-style dwelling was built in 1839 and designed and renovated by the owner of the Beaconsfield Inn and Abigail’s Hotel, Bill McKechnie, who worked on all three properties. Co-operated by innkeeper, pastry chef, and chocolatier David Booth with his wife Vlasta Booth and her Mom, Mila Werbik (who owns and has run the property since 1992) each room greets its guests with homemade chocolate truffles from David’s Terrible Truffles and sparkling wine.
The rooms come equipped with two of my fav accoutrements: a wood-burning fireplace and a jetted jacuzzi tub). With a selection of accommodations – from six individual guest rooms plus a separate cottage, there are many spaces to choose from. The rooms range in price (depending on size and season) from $147 CDN to $295 CDN a night and the White Heather Cottage, located just a few blocks from the Inner Harbour, sleeps 4 to 6 people and ranges (again, depending on season) from $360 CDN to $490 CDN per night.
Although it is apparently alleged by some past guests that Edward’s Room – a room designed in the Edwardian style – is gently haunted, I myself was very pleased to stay in the Gazebo Room. Large enough to live, work, rest, and play in, this room offered good light, fabulous tub, and a comfy bed with a goose down duvet. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay; there’s nothing I love more than soaking by candlelight with a roaring wood fire in the same room.
This B & B also has the perfect balance of privacy and socialization; for although you can enjoy refreshments each afternoon in the parlour downstairs, you can also get along just fine in the privacy of your own room. For example, they aren’t kidding then they promise to serve up a “full gourmet breakfast” – and so discreetly, I might add. Delivered through a cupboard with doors located both in the hall and in the room, breakfast is truly a full meal deal. (This arrangement was developed long ago, when the Humbolt House was not equipped with a proper kitchen to serve guests in the three rooms that were available at that time. As a result, the breakfasts were prepped at the Beaconsfield Inn and delivered through these cupboards, which were fashioned for this purpose. Today, there is a basement kitchen at Humbolt House.) During my stay, I enjoyed fresh fruit, eggs benny, tea, juice and baked goodies – the perfect start to any day.
And, if all that is not enough happy hedonism for you, just ask David about his truffles. Began a few years ago, made in the basement of the Humbolt House, and available in such places as online and at the local farmers markets, these ganache-laden truffles are made with Belgian chocolate sourced from Belcolade and come in seven standard flavors (although other flavours exist at David’s whim): Classic Dark Chocolate (with a hint of orange brandy), Noisette (with fresh roasted hazelnuts), Espresso (with fresh roasted coffee), The Aztec (with crushed sweet red peppers), Milk Chocolate (also with orange brandy), White Chocolate (with Cointreau liqueur), and Cassis (with blackcurrant purée). Oh, and he does wedding cakes, too.
Talk about über romantic, dear hedonists…