A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to write a piece titled Breakfast, Brunch and Tea – mainly because I love all three – but also because unlike lunch and dinner – there is really a special kind of experience when you find one of those places that just takes it to another level. I had only recently stayed at the Hotel Windsor and after several Melbournians alerted me to their famous afternoon tea, I decided why not start there?
So on my next visit to Melbourne I caught up with the team at the Windsor hotel to find out a bit more about their tea tradition. Before even talking tea, however, I really wanted to explore the hotel which as I rightly guessed – was hiding a few interesting secrets!
Now with a name like the Windsor one has every reason to expect to be treated like royalty and in that regard the hotel over achieves. From the moment you step into the hotel to the minute you leave, the service is personal, welcoming and the staff are incredibly attentive. Some may say this is because the Windsor hotel – as an old style hotel needs to differentiate itself and yes that may be the case. But you don’t go to the Windsor if you are looking for the standard “done-up” rooms in this or that standard hotel design template – you go to the Windsor for an experience; for me it was like stepping into another time. The lobby, from a bye gone era, featured those lovely deep leather couches, the old style ’70s lifts and the rooms and suites fitted out in what can be best described as grandma’s European antiquities.
In that regard the hotel is swimming with character. I had a tour of some of the Victorian suites which were more like guest chambers from some old European castle. The one’s I viewed had stained glass doors, fireplaces and dining suites. Some had several bedrooms.
We finished the tour in the tea room where my host took me through the many delights one can expect from the Windsor’s weekend afternoon tea. Just in case you were wondering, the Windsor has been serving afternoon tea since 1883 so you can be sure they are well versed in this tradition.
On weekdays, afternoon tea is served at your table on three-tiered silver stands and consists of freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches. On weekends however, add to that the largest, most indulgent buffet of desserts and sweets baked in house by Executive Chef Jérôme Trémoulet and his team of pastry chefs.
Not to be outdone by the arrival of other royals to town – namely the Tutankhamen exhibition – from April 1st the Windsor’s afternoon tea will include exotic Egyptian-themed pastries and treats.
Tea goer’s will enjoy delicacies such as golden pyramids filled with pistachio ganache, traditional sweet Baklavas, dates stuffed with coconut and walnuts and much more, alongside the perennial afternoon tea favourites of scones and finger sandwiches. Now there’s a tea that’s fit for a King..or a Queen or even a budding princess!