The Fairmont Empress is an iconic hotel that offers a stunning setting for enjoying tea and scones, with beautiful views of the Inner Harbour.
Fairmont Empress Afternoon Tea Experience
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Rightly called the Castle on the Coast, The Empress Hotel sits pretty, in the heart of the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.
Surrounded by the landmark Legislature Buildings, Royal BC Museum, and the Inner Harbour, it is hard to miss the Fairmont Empress hotel.
It is an award-winning Victoria hotel and a National Historic Site, blending the elements of both classic and contemporary design!
Being a luxury property, the suites at the Fairmont Empress starts at $360 CAD (plus taxes), but you can always visit the Dining/Tea Room for a feel of its elegance!
And what better way to experience that, other than a Classic Afternoon Tea.
Victoria is home to many Tea Houses and Tea Rooms, but if you’re looking for a luxurious afternoon tea experience in the city, look no further than the Fairmont Empress.
In this guide below, I will share my experience at the Tea Room, and the process of reserving a table, prices and more.
Where is the Fairmont Empress Hotel located and where is the Tea Room?
The Empress hotel is located in downtown Victoria. Its exact address is 721 Government Street Victoria, BC V8W 1W5. You can get there by car, sightseeing bus, horse-drawn carriage ride or by water taxi.
Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is located approximately 30 minutes drive from Fairmont Empress.
Tea at the Empress (as the experience is called) is situated in the elegant Lobby Lounge.
Fairmont Empress Tea Experience Prices
Here are the current prices for an Afternoon Tea Experience (each one comes with unlimited cups of tea, and one three-tier platter of goodness – scones with housemade strawberry jam, pastries, and finger sandwiches).
- Afternoon Tea is $89 CAD per person
- Champagne Tea featuring a glass of Veuve Clicquot $128 CAD
- Champagne Tea featuring a glass of Laurent Perrier $135 CAD
Everything is served in royal china – a gift and a tradition dating back to Her Majesty’s visit in 1939, which is now a celebrated Empress ritual.
Children’s Prince or Princess Teas
Tea at the Empress also caters to young children from five to twelve years of age.
Called the Prince and Princesses tea, their menu is a little different – but it offers the same grandeur and royal experience.
Prince & Princess Afternoon Tea experience starts at $45 CAD per person for children 12 and under.
Did you know? Tea at the Empress has been pouring traditional Afternoon Tea for 114 years and counting.
Entering the Lobby Lounge (my Fairmont Empress afternoon tea experience) + Offerings and Services
I reserved my table online prior to my visit to Victoria. My flight was delayed and I was able to change my reservation at no cost. A credit card was put on hold, but it was not charged.
Upon arrival at the Inner Harbour, I walked past the lovely gardens and entered the Fairmont Empress hotel lobby from the main entrance.
I had a big backpack with me and was able to store that in the luggage room (for free).
I, then, proceeded to the luxurious Lobby Lounge passing through more gorgeous hallways. I met with the host and requested to be seated by the window with views.
This was my solo trip to Victoria, and I had the table to myself. I was there at around 2:00 pm, and the place was not overly crowded. There were families, couples and girls only tables where everyone was having a great time.
I was seated inside the Tea Hall, but there were more tables outside by the patio.
I was treated very well by the gentleman serving me tea. The tea menu was handed down to me. It had a variety of loose leaf teas (21 to be exact) such as Orange Pekoe, Cochin Masala Chai to name a few.
I also saw Assam tea in it – and I am from this north-eastern state in India, so I was excited. However, I opted for my usual Earl Grey!
Tea was steeped inside a beautiful china cup that oozed royalty!
A sand timer was placed by it, to determine the level of tea strength (I did the medium), no milk or sugar (but you can always request some). Tea was unlimited!
Beside the teapot was the highlight of the experience – a three tiered platter full of goodies, from sweet treats to savoury bites.
All of the delicacies are prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Here is what is included:
- Cold Smoked Pacific Sockeye Salmon
- Roasted Alberta Beef Striploin
- Coronation Chicken Salad Sandwich (this was my favorite. It had house roasted farmhouse chicken, with curried sweet onions)
- Classic Egg Salad
- SunWing Farms English Cucumber ( dill whipped cream cheese, fennel pollen and pink peppercorn on dark rye)
- Empress Raisin Scones (these are the delicious clotted cream & strawberry-vanilla preserve, prepared in house)
- Raspberry and Matcha Opera (raspberry chocolate ganache, matcha dacquoise, almond praline cremeux)
- Chocolate Moelleux Cup (made of dark chocolate ganache, buckwheat & cacao nib streusel, apricot jam, earl grey cream – another favorite)
- Cherry Cheese
- Strawberry Rose Macaron (yummy – almond cookie, strawberry jam, rose buttercream)
- Empress Honey & Lavender ShortBread
So, the strawberry jam used on the baked scones is made in-house from local berries. Plus the honey is from their own bee hives and lavender from the in house rooftop garden.
Note that they do cater to the following dietary restrictions: vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose / dairy free, peanut and tree nut free, seafood and shellfish free, and diabetic friendly.
I was at the Tea Room for about an hour or so, and then paid my check and left. It was truly an amazing culinary experience – steeped in tea, history and royalty!.
Did you know? When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada in 1939, they stayed at The Empress and also hosted a dinner for 250 guests in The Empress Room.
Making reservations for Tea at the Empress
It is highly recommended that you make your reservations for yourself and your party at the Empress prior to your visit.
You can do so on their website (powered by Open Table). You won’t be charged when you make a reservation.
They are open every day. Current seatings include
- 3 Seatings are available from Monday – Wednesday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
- 4 seatings are available from Thursday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Can’t experience it in-house? You can also shop Tea on the go here.
Dressing up for the occasion
There is a dress code for the afternoon tea experience at the Empress. Their website outlines the following things
- Avoid wearing hats, except fascinators and fancy tea hats
- No tank tops, beach wear, or athleisure wear permitted
- No flip-flops or barefoot permitted. Exceptions are elegant sandals
- No clothing with explicit or offensive wording or graphics permitted
No luggage or full-length tripods are allowed. You can carry a mini tripod with you as long as it doesn’t pose a safety hazard for people or a distraction.
Final thoughts: Fairmont Empress Afternoon Tea Experience
The Fairmont Empress is an iconic hotel that should not be missed on your trip to Victoria. It offers an amazing setting for enjoying tea and scones, with beautiful views of the Inner Harbour.
The service is impeccable, and the tea selection is impressive.
The Fairmont Empress is the perfect place to indulge in a classic afternoon tea experience in Canada!