Nov 24, 2015

Afternoon Tea with the Empress


It’s a cliché that most hotels in the world would dearly aspire to provide their guests, to treat them as Kings and Queens during their stay. I am pleased to say this is exactly what we experienced when we checked in to the one and only Fairmont Empress Hotel in the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

Regarded as one of Travel + Leisure’s Best 500 Hotels of the World and high on the Condé Naste Gold List, The Empress certainly is majestic. For a start, she sits proudly perched on the most amazing position overlooking the sparkling city’s inner Harbor. She is wrapped in a floral explosion of colour, greenery and sunshine. She is within a short stroll of the city’s best arts, entertainment, shopping, dining and cultural attractions. And the interiors are as grand and ornate too.

I am quite partial to a few things at a great Hotel. The first is a really, really good spa. Luckily, The Empress features the highly acclaimed Willow Stream Spa, regarded as one of the best spas in Canada.

I also adore a great dining experience. And this is where The Empress truly excels. A stay here wouldn’t be complete without indulging in one of Victoria’s grandest traditions, Afternoon Tea in the lobby. For over a century, this has been the landmark destination for celebrities, royalty and Canada’s wealthiest set.

It sunk in for me when my lovely waiter Robert mentioned he had been serving Afternoon Tea at The Empress for over 30 years. I thought this was incredibly impressive until he then said he was the shortest running staff member there. This is an institution.

You can picture it too, with the likes of Queen Elizabeth dining there in 1951, as well as King George and The Queen Mother in 1939. Harrison Ford, John Wayne, Mel Gibson and Pamela Anderson have all sampled the sandwiches and sipped the champagne too.

This isn’t just a cup of tea, this is a heritage-listed experience that should be savoured with every sip. 

Written by Rose Jacobs