A Royal Experience: Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress

A Royal Experience: Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Empress

Nestled on the picturesque shores of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, The Fairmont Empress is a legendary icon of elegance and luxury. It has stood the test of time, offering guests a quintessentially British tradition that has become synonymous with their brand: Afternoon Tea. Come with me on a journey through history, indulgence, and timeless elegance as we explore the enchanting world of afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress.

The Fairmont Empress, originally known as the Empress Hotel, first opened its doors in 1908. Designed by renowned architect Francis M. Rattenbury, the hotel was built during a time when Victoria was experiencing a tourism boom. Its iconic Edwardian architecture and stunning harbor views quickly made it a landmark in the region.

Afternoon tea has been a cherished tradition at The Fairmont Empress since its inception. In 1908, they began serving this delightful afternoon reprieve, which has remained a beloved practice ever since. Over the decades, the hotel has welcomed royalty, celebrities, and discerning travelers worldwide, cementing its status as a world-class destination.

While Afternoon Tea is a beloved tradition in many parts of the world, what sets The Fairmont Empress apart is its commitment to preserving the authenticity and grandeur of the experience. The hotel has gone to great lengths to ensure that every detail is impeccable, from the elegant table settings to the traditional silver tea service.

One of the unique aspects of The Fairmont Empress’s afternoon tea is the location. The tea is served in the hotel’s iconic Lobby Lounge, overlooking the stunning Inner Harbour. The grandeur of the surroundings, with its chandeliers and grand piano, adds to the sense of occasion, making it a truly memorable experience.

Over the years, The Fairmont Empress has hosted many famous visitors who have enjoyed their afternoon tea. Notable guests include Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and numerous heads of state. The hotel’s Royal pedigree is a testament to the exceptional quality of their afternoon tea service.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the star of the show: the food and drink enjoyed during afternoon tea. The Fairmont Empress offers a carefully curated selection of teas to accompany the afternoon tea experience. From classic Earl Grey to the hotel’s custom Empress Blend, there’s a tea to suit every palate. The teas are served in silver teapots, adding a touch of sophistication to the experience.

As for the food, you can expect a delectable assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. The sandwiches feature fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the scones are baked to perfection and served with clotted cream and house-made preserves. The pastries are a work of art, showcasing the culinary expertise of the hotel’s pastry chefs.

The dress code for afternoon tea at The Empress has evolved over the years to reflect changing fashion trends and societal norms. While it has remained an elegant and upscale experience, some aspects of the dress code have become more relaxed compared to its early years. Here’s a brief overview of how the dress code has changed over time:

  1. Early 20th Century:
    • When The Fairmont Empress first opened in 1908, afternoon tea was an affair of utmost formality. Guests were expected to dress in their finest attire, often formal dresses and suits.
    • Proper hats, gloves, and accessories were also commonly worn by women, adding an extra layer of sophistication to the attire.
    • Men typically wore three-piece suits with ties or cravats.
  1. Mid-20th Century:
    • In the mid-20th century, there was a shift towards more casual dress codes in many areas of society, including fine dining establishments.
    • The dress code at The Fairmont Empress became somewhat less formal during this period, with guests still expected to dress nicely but not necessarily in formal attire.
    • Hats and gloves for women gradually fell out of fashion, and men’s fashion became less rigid.
  1. Late 20th Century and Beyond:
    • As the 20th century progressed, dress codes evolved, reflecting broader cultural changes.
    • The dress code at The Fairmont Empress became more flexible, with the emphasis shifting towards smart-casual attire.
    • Today, the hotel generally maintains a smart-casual dress code for afternoon tea. While formal attire is not required, guests are encouraged to dress neatly and presentably. T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops are discouraged.

It’s important to note that while the dress code has become more relaxed over the years, the hotel still aims to provide an elegant and refined atmosphere for its guests. The goal is to balance preserving the tradition and allowing guests to feel comfortable and enjoy the experience without feeling overly constrained by strict dress requirements.

The surrounding area of The Fairmont Empress is truly enchanting. Located in Victoria, British Columbia, the hotel offers stunning views of the Inner Harbour and the Olympic Mountains, creating a picturesque backdrop for your visit. The lush, well-manicured gardens and vibrant flower displays around the hotel further enhance the visual appeal.

Victoria itself is known for its natural beauty, with numerous parks, gardens, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore the famous Butchart Gardens, stroll along the scenic waterfront, or take a harbor tour to admire the marine life and coastline.

In addition to its natural beauty, Victoria offers a charming shopping experience with multiple opportunities to contribute to the local economy. The downtown area boasts boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint stores where you can find unique souvenirs, local crafts, and high-end fashion. The Empress’s central location makes it convenient for guests to explore the city’s shopping districts, providing a perfect blend of luxury accommodations and access to retail therapy.

Whether you’re admiring the natural beauty of the harbor, exploring the city’s gardens, or indulging in a shopping spree, The Fairmont Empress provides an ideal starting point for discovering the charm and elegance of Victoria, BC.

Afternoon tea at The Empress is more than just a meal; it’s a journey through time and tradition. With its storied past, commitment to authenticity, famous guests, and exquisite food and drink, it’s no wonder that this iconic hotel continues to be a beloved destination for those seeking a taste of luxury and elegance. Whether you’re a seasoned tea connoisseur or a first-time visitor, The Fairmont Empress promises an afternoon tea experience that will leave you with cherished memories and a longing to return to its timeless charm.

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