Tourists will here amazing reviews about tea at the Fairmont Empress. Truthfully, what you are paying for is the novelty of dining in an elegant setting with fine service over looking Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Unique Suggestions: Dress up! The Fairmont Empress does have dress codes and you won't want to be disappointed upon arrival. Be sure to ask for a seat near the window so you can enjoy the view at the very least!
Fun Alternatives: If you're really just looking for a good afternoon tea, there are a lot of places in Victoria that offer it including: Point Ellice House, Hotel Grand Pacific, the Blethering Place and the Huntingdon Manor. Most are within close walking proximity of the inner harbour. This way you can enjoy a traditional English or West Coast afternoon tea without breaking the budget! Did I give you too many names to choose? Well, let me help you narrow it down....
If you want history....Point Ellice House
If you want traditional English tea.....Huntingdon Manor
If you want to venture outside of downtown Victoria a see a suburban village....Blethering Place
If you want to sample West Coast Afternoon Tea with a BC twist.....Hotel Grand Pacific
Tea at the Empress costs $40 for scones (with yucky raisins!), biscuits, tea sandwiches and of course, tea. I can't think of a bigger waste of $40.
Instead of expensive tea, go to Kipling's Buffet for dinner! Five nights each week they don't offer the roast beef carving board, so the beautiful buffet is only $19 per person (drinks extra). Choose from all sorts of dishes including fresh meats, local seafoods, Indian-inspired curry dishes, pasta, vegetables, salads and then decadent desserts. You get to stuff yourself in the Empress for a fraction of the price!
The Empress Hotel is the architectural landmark Victoria's most famous for, and as a result, it gets put on people's list of "must sees" when they're in the city. However, there's really only so much one can do at the Empress Hotel. I don't know whether you could classify the Empress as a tourist trap, but there are certain elements of this hotel which are aimed at taking advantage of tourists deep pockets!
The Empress Hotel is probably most famous for its Afternoon Tea. This is completely aimed at tourists. With its hefty price of
Unique Suggestions: Note that there are 2 lobbies at the Empress. There's the
Go for a stroll in the rose garden which is to the south side of the hotel. From late May onward, the roses that bloom there are absolutely beautiful!
Fun Alternatives: If your only intent was to have afternoon tea at the Empress, but you don't want to spend over $50 per person on what's essentially tea, finger sandwiches, and baked goods, then explore the other "high tea" or "afternoon tea" options in Victoria.
The Blethering Place in Oak Bay, Murchie's on Government Street, the James Bay tea room, the White Heather, and even Gatsby Mansion on the inner harbour all offer traditional English tea experiences, but at much less expense!
It was hard to find a tourist trap in Victoria, cause it is such a beautifull city and even the tourist oriented places and activities are worth the time and money. EXCEPT one: Afternoon Tea at the Empress hotel. The fternoon Tea is counted one of Victoria's greatest traditions. In the Empress It takes place at a beautifull room, you are surrounded by handcrafted tapestries, lovely moldings and polished, hard wood floors in the magnificently restored lobby. BUT the Tea and the crumpets are not standing up to the occation, and the price exagerated
Unique Suggestions: Ask for a window table
Fun Alternatives: You'll pay less and get better stuff at : Murchies Tea & Coffee Ltd., 1110 Government Street, Victoria, phone: 250-383-3112,
James Bay Tearoom & Restaurant, 332 Menzies, 382-8282,
Point-no-Point, 1505 West Coast Road, 646-2020,
I heard that having tea at the Empress Hotel was a must do. Warning...This will set you back 75.00 CDN dollars per couple. Now I do enjoy my tea and even with the favorable exchange(approx US $50) I could not do it!