When my beau took me to Victoria two weekends ago, the last on our to-do list was to go and have afternoon tea at The Empress hotel.
After checking out of our room, we had an hour to while away before the clock struck noon so off we went for some sightseeing and window-shopping. It was St. Patrick’s day, but oddly enough not many people were out celebrating! I wonder why? We still enjoyed the Celtic music that played on the sidewalks and poured out of pubs.Victoria may never boast the abundance of cherry blossom trees that Vancouver can, but the city has her fair share, and against the backdrop of Victorian/Edwardian architecture, the trees seemed twice as ethereal; an idyllic scene to be sure. The one thing that ‘marred’ the beauty of the city was the fact that there were literally several dinky little ‘tourist’ shops that sold almost nothing but junk, to be quite frank. In my opinion, when you start catering to tourists too much, you lose the beauty of the city and what attracts visitors in the first place. I would really like to see most of those shops shut down and some quaint little boutiques to take over and attract discerning travellers!
Finally, it was noon! We were particularly ravenous as we had had no breakfast, and so we made all haste towards our tea…
Since it opened on January 20, 1908, The Empress has carried on the beloved English ritual of afternoon tea. On summer months, the Empress serves Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England –can you imagine! This was quite surprising to hear, and I’m very curious to know –if there are any English tourists out there who have had tea here,… what was your impression of the standards in authenticity and service?
I managed to take a short (and rather shaky — my apologies!) video to share the ambience of the tea room. You can hear me whispering, “Hang on!” to my man who was offering to take my picture. Oops… I suppose the more ladylike reply would have been, “Just one moment!” 😛 My excitement turns me into a two year old, I swear!
The hotel has seen some very important people, including Rita Hayworth, Douglas Fairbanks, Harrison Ford, Shirley Temple, and Her Majesty the Queen, herself! The place certainly has an exclusive though welcoming atmosphere!
Our tea started with a dish of seasonal fruit –being strawberries and cream, which is quite delicioius and my personal favourite. The thought that I was now ready for kissing (you know how they write that ‘her breath smelled of strawberries’, or something along those lines…) flitted through my mind. 🙂
Then came the tea itself, and we chose the ‘Empress Blend’. (Exclusive to The Fairmont Empress, this delightful blend boasts a bright coppery colour and takes milk exceedingly well. The Assam component lends a rich malty character, while the Kenyan black tea provides subtle floral hints. Kenyan green tea infuses this blend and lively aroma, complemented by fruity, sprightly and airy piquant flavors of Dimbula from Sri Lanka. Small amount of Keemun draws the elements together with burgundy depth and light oaky notes.)
Smoked salmon celeriac pinwheel*
Mango & curried chicken sandwich
Ham & roasted apple mustard*
Free range egg salad croissant*
Duck rillette with brandied apricot*
Freshly baked raisin scone with strawberry jam & Empress cream*
Rose petal chocolate filled swans
Checker board shortbread*
Chocolate caramel mandarin tart*
(* denotes personal favourites.)
It was so much fun eating things in little quantities, and I was actually glad that we didn’t have breakfast as we were quite full afterwards, and had some untouched goodies which we took home with us along with two complimentary boxes of the tea we had! It came out to about $80 for the two of us (I had a Friends of the Empress discount, otherwise it is $100) and I feel that you are paying slightly more for the environment, the history, and the Fairmont name. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you and what you are looking for! Personally, I enjoy history, fine dining, and am a bit of a ‘Closet Brit’ so for me, it was worth every penny. Even though we Canadians no longer have pennies!
Earrings: Swarovski heart clear crystal clip earrings (2011)
Necklace: Chamilia charm necklace (2011 –gift from A)
Ring: Ice.com ladies bevelled tungsten wedding band (2011) –and no, I’m not married!
Top: Mara Gottler two-panelled top (2011)
Skirt: JACOB tweed A-line mini skirt (2012)
Shoes: Lucky Brand ‘Emmie’ ballet flats in metallic powder (2012)
Coat: Mackage ‘Edie’ trench coat in storm (2012)
Bag: Flaska Laverne ‘Bookia’ in chocolate (2012)
— Miss Cathie