My best friend Janine and I recently traveled to Victoria, British Columbia for the first time. While planning our trip, everyone told us we must go to the Fairmont Empress for tea. About a week before our trip, I decided to call and make our reservations for the once in a lifetime experience. I am glad I called when I did because the only times they had available for seating by that point on a Sunday were at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. (and we had to catch a 4 p.m. ferry back to Port Angeles that day!).
According to the Fairmont Empress, afternoon tea is “A grand tradition for over a century, the world renowned Fairmont Empress has served England’s most beloved ritual of afternoon tea to famed royalty, celebrities and dignitaries alike. Reinvigorated in our timeless, sophisticated Lobby Lounge, Tea at the Empress will continue this quintessentially Victoria experience.”
It was a rainy Sunday morning on our last day in Victoria and we made our way up to the beautiful Fairmont Empress for our royal afternoon tea. We were promptly seated at a window table by the friendly hostess and our view overlooked the hotel lawn and harbor. Our waiter brought us a menu of the different available teas to choose from. I decided to try the Organic Cream Earl Grey and Janine tried the Organic Kea Lani.
Our waiter brought out our teas along with three hourglasses. Depending on how long we wanted to steep our teas corresponded with each hourglass, with the green sand being the shortest and the brown sand being the longest (4 minutes). We both chose 4 minutes and our patience was rewarded.
Former Executive Chef to the Royals, Darren McGrady’s main menu entrees included: Smoked Salmon with Suedoise Sauce sandwich, English Cheddar and Tomato finger sandwich, Coronation Chicken Mayonnaise sandwich, roast beef with golden beetroot and horseradish creme fraiche sandwich, Jam Penny sandwich, and warm scones with clotted cream and fraise des bois compote. The desserts were very decadent, but I unfortunately did not write down what they were!
According to the Fairmont Empress, the Empress Tea China was originally presented to King George V in 1914 upon the opening of the Booth factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England. The china was first used by The Empress in 1939 for the Royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The pattern is now produced by William Edwards exclusively for the Fairmont Empress.
Janine and I thoroughly enjoyed and savored our time at the Fairmont Empress. The afternoon tea costs $75 per person (Canadian dollars), and I would recommend adding this experience to your Victoria “to-do” list.
721 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia