First Look: The Snug Pub at Oak Bay Beach Hotel

First of all, I have to start by attesting that although I’ve grown up in Victoria and have family in Oak Bay, The Snug Pub at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel was never a place I frequented. Over the years I’ve heard many great things about this neighbourhood pub, but living downtown I stuck to the locales within walking distance. Therefore, comparing the recently revamped and relaunched Snug to what it was in many peoples’ minds is not something I can do. However, after graciously being greeted in the opulent lobby by Hotel Manager, Michelle Le Sage and the girls at the front desk, I somehow felt as if this popular Oak Bay landmark was one that I had been to before. With a traditional, but updated English manor feel, articulately detailed decor, and grand piano placed by large and sunny bay windows, there was no denying that the efforts of six years of renovations had paid off. The principal concern to Le Sage was to ensure that the new hotel and Snug Pub were equally embraced by the community and hotel guests. Aiming to ensure that the memories of their loyal patrons were respected, great care went into preserving and incorporating aspects of the over eighty-two year old Victorian site.


Despite visiting during the day, The Snug felt cozy and warm like a great room in a family home, boasting a fire place with original hearth, wood detail, and hanging candle chandeliers that were reintegrated from the old Pub. I was reminded instantly, upon walking through the heavy wooden doors, that this truly is a spectacular city we live in. The view through the updated hurricane weathered glass windows was saturated with the endless ocean and dotted with strokes of mountains. The soon-to-be-opened patio overlooked the hotel’s great extension and three warm mineral salt pools opened year round rested at the edge of the land. While some may argue that the old Snug felt cozier, the renovated  Pub maintains a rustic, albeit updated, feel. The former windowpanes with brass accents now reside as the backdrop to the bar, and throughout the hotel the original wood ceiling beams remain. It took over six months to tear down the hotel because of the desire to save original touchstones, and by incorporating them smoothly into the new building they were able to pay homage to the history of the space.


The Snug Burger, an institution.

The Snug Burger, an institution.

As owner and operator of the hotel since 1995 with his wife Shawna, Kevin Walker is aware of the importance in staying current with the direction of food trends. Several years ago nouvelle cuisine, which he describes as aesthetically pleasing but lacking substance, was a common style of many restaurants. Now however, a pub’s atmosphere relies not only on the drinks being poured, but on the quality and presentation of food. People are venturing into casual spaces and expecting not only an ambient space with a creative roster of beverages, but also a hearty meal full of flavour. Previously in the Snug, it wasn’t rare to find a student sitting next to a professor marking papers while sipping a pint. With the new Snug, Walker and Le Sage find that while Friday and Saturday nights are packed with an electric buzz of conversation, they are still seeing a varied mix people walking through their doors. Executive Chef, Iain Rennie, who was recently brought on board, is not only a culinary genius, but master of preparation and organization according to Walker. He has many years experience working in esteemed kitchens around the globe and has earned a robust list of accolades from world culinary competitions. With the chops to reinvent the Snug menu he will be putting a slight twist on beloved favourites, while simultaneously incorporating a flare of his own.



Chorizo and Blue cheese pizza with a Snug IPA.

Having the opportunity to sample a preview of the upcoming menu that will be launching on March 19, was a welcomed way to start the day. The thin-crust pizza with chorizo and blue cheese offered just the right punch of heat and the more traditional pub dish, “The Snug Burger (an Institution)” was succulent with its handmade patty, spicy onion rings, bacon and sharp white cheddar. The standout however, was the slow cooked lamb curry simmered in coconut milk and spices and accompanied by pear chutney, raita and freshly cooked Guinness naan. The tender lamb was raised on Walker’s Derrinberg farm out of Saanichton, where Chef Rennie hopes to yield more produce for his menu. With any good meal must come a proper pint, and for Quentin Kayne, Director of Food and Beverage, an important aspect of keeping patrons happy is finding the balance between offering favourites, such as Guinness, and including local brews. With that in mind, they have decided to introduce a special cask evening on the first Friday of every month. The most recent being the Snug IPA from Salt Spring Island Brewery, cask conditioned with Mt. Hood Hops that were grown on the brewery’s farm. The Snug IPA was crafted to honour the Pub, and is an English IPA that has a delectable balance of hops and delicate sweetness that makes it the perfect accompaniment to classic dishes like Steak and Kidney pie.


When you change or alter a place that has been significant in the lives of many, there comes a grave responsibility to try and not tarnish memories. A major struggle in rebuilding the Snug was to figure out how to breathe in new life without stripping away its heart. Reopening the doors while embracing its history has allowed for visitors to come and enjoy a new experience while still feeling a sense of community. With a rivalled view, high quality food and inviting traditional pub atmosphere, this may not be your Father’s Snug, but it definitely hasn’t forgotten where it came from.


1175 Beach Drive, Victoria, BC



Sun – Wed: 11AM-12AM

Thurs – Sat: 11AM – 1AM

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