A Right Royal Experience: The Fairmont Empress High Tea

Photo courtesy Fairmont Empress

Contributor Cynthia Graham spent an afternoon sampling the delights of the Fairmont Empress high tea experience in Victoria 

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The world-famous ‘Tea at the Empress’ experience is offered in the Fairmont Empress hotel’s sophisticated Lobby Lounge, where afternoon tea has been served daily since the hotel’s opening on January 20th, 1908.

This delightful Victoria afternoon tea experience is served using an exclusive Empress floral china pattern. A three-tiered tray of delicacies is provided that includes fresh seasonal fruit with cream, assorted sandwiches, traditional English golden raisin scones served with clotted cream and house-made strawberry lavender jam, and bite-size pastries created in-house by the pastry team.

As you relax and enjoy your tea accompanied by live classical piano music, take a peek at the excellent harbor view or nestle by the fireplace.


The Fairmont Empress High Tea Torte


Our server, Marlene, showed us the menu of 21 teas, with leaves shown in a wooden display box. She thoroughly explained each step, from helping choose a tea to steeping it, and answered any questions we had. She was delightful and enhanced our tea experience. And if you want a reminder to take home with you, the beautiful china cup and saucer set used for the afternoon tea service are available for purchase in the gift shop.

Another highlight of the afternoon tea experience is sampling the Empress Torte. Created by Executive Pastry Chef AJ Thalakkat, this rich chocolate delicacy is a multi-layered creation that takes two days to create. The Empress chocolate used was created by the Chef and is used exclusively for the torte.

It’s also used for the chocolate crown,  modeled after the crown worn by the late Queen Elizabeth II, that tops this wonderful, sweet treat (it even has a hint of gold dust for that extra elegant touch). The cake is gluten-free and includes honey made from the bees kept at the Empress and is served by the slice… or you can take a whole cake home with you.


Don’t Forget the Empress Gin!


Also worth sampling while staying here is the Empress 1908 Gin. Made by Victoria Distillers, this wonderful drink consists of seven botanicals, including one from South Asia, called the pea flower, which gives the gin its unique indigo color. (Editor’s Note: You can find an article about Empress 1908 Gin elsewhere on LuxuryBritishColumbia.)

If your budget and time permits, why not make a weekend of this exquisite Empress Hotel high tea experience?  Check out our “Riley Recommended” hotel partner below for the best rates, as well as the latest reviews for this iconic Vancouver Island hotel.

Riley Recommends: For rates and reservations, be sure to visit our preferred accommodation partner at Fairmont Empress.   




Contributor Cynthia Graham is a freelance travel writer and digital nomad traveling the world. She owns www.BlueBagNomads.com where she shares her travel tips and passion. Also, find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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