Most would assume that Vancouver is capital of British Columbia, but that title belongs to the older and wiser city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you have time it is well worth visiting this quaint city.
The grand Fairmont Empress Hotel is one of the first sights you see when you arrive in Victoria. The building was built between 1904 and 1908 but became a popular tourist destination in the 1920s. This famous hotel has become iconic over the years, overlooking the Inner Harbour on Government Street. The hotel has 477 rooms and four restaurants, but it is the classic Victorian afternoon tea for which it is best known. In the busier summer months the ‘Tea Room’ can serve more than 800 teas in a day!
Rather than waiting until 3pm, we arrived for our ‘lunchtime’ afternoon tea at 1pm, hungry and excited. We were ushered into the lavish lounge to a preferential table with views of the Victoria Harbour. The Fairmont Empress has been serving tea for over 107 years and the menu is still much the same as Anna, Duchess of Bedford intended when she invited her guests for tea and scones. The china is the same in design as that used for the royal guests, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who visited The Empress in 1939.
TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEA MENU
Fresh Strawberries with Empress Cream
Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Dill Cream Cheese
Roasted Honey Ham with Tarragon Dijonnaise
Free Range Egg Salad Croissant
Cucumber and Ginger Mascarpone on Butter Brioche
Moroccan Spiced Coronation Chicken on Marble Rye
Freshly Baked Raisin Scone with Strawberry Jam and Empress Cream
Duo of Jivara and Ivoire Chocolate Délice
Raspberry Mascarpone Mousseline
Valrhona Pistachio Crémeux Tart
Rose Petal Shortbread
Fresh strawberries topped with Empress cream was first placed on the table. The Empress cream is extra light whipped cream with an alluring sweetness that I imagine comes from adding sugar, it was perfect with the ruby red strawberries. After a round of superior Earl Grey tea, the impressive tiered stands arrived loaded with delectable treats. The sandwiches were fresh and full of flavour, particularly delicious was the creamy rich Moroccan spiced coronation chicken and the exotic take on a standard cucumber sandwich.
I found the scones a little dry, they sadly didn’t taste very freshly baked. The dainty cakes on the top level were a pleasant balance of different flavours and textures. The decadent Délice was a hit with my chocolate loving friend whilst I preferred the airy raspberry mousseline and subtly flavoured rose petal shortbread.
It threatens to ruin the magic seeing the prepared afternoon teas sitting out ready for at the entrance to the Tea Lobby, but nonetheless I loved my experience at The Empress, and highly recommend including it in your Victoria itinerary.
More information and book the Empress afternoon tea here.
While in Victoria, walk up to the impressive Craigdarroch Castle and learn all about the family history. And after indulging at The Empress, wander around the independent shops on Johnson Street – I loved the stationery shop Regional Assembly of Text, the cashmere shop Kit and Ace and the café Hey Happy for their Iced Coconut Milk Latte.
Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled to Victoria with Helijet.
Breathtaking views over the stunning Salish Sea greet guests on a Helijet flight between Vancouver and Victoria or Nanaimo. Comfortable and spacious, 12 seat, Sikorsky S76 helicopters fly up to 30 daily departures between the cities. With flights just 35 minutes between Vancouver and Victoria or 18 minutes between Vancouver and Nanaimo there’s more time to spend exploring the city after your flight. http://helijet.com/scheduled-airline/
All photos taken on my lovely Olympus Pen Lite E-PL7.