AT reader and Sydneysider Sandip Hor has made an exquisite addition to his list of favourites in Melbourne: reliving the age-old English tradition of afternoon tea.
I still remember my first experience of high tea at the Ritz Hotel in London on a cold winter afternoon.
As I entered the restaurant, I was greeted with the aroma of various teas, the sugary scent of creamy pastries, and my ears were filled with a unique blend of sounds: multilingual conversation and the tinkling of spoons in English china teacups. The atmosphere was warm and cosy enough to create a leisurely mood to relax and relish. The accompaniment of finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a range of delicious pastries helped satisfy my winter hunger.
This delightful tradition lives on today at The Windsor with a grandeur that matches its style.
The hotel is perhaps the last of its kind in Australia that can be ranked with the Raffles in Singapore, Taj Mahal in Mumbai, Metropole in Hanoi or the Galle Face in Colombo. For more than a century this luxurious hotel has provided its elite clientele – including world-renowned celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, Gregory Peck and Katherine Hepburn – with the best English-style service and cuisine in a setting that portrays sophistication and class.
The hotel, known fondly to Melburnians as the Duchess of Spring Street, is at the “Paris end” of the city overlooking the majestic Parliament House of Victoria, close to the Treasury and Fitzroy gardens. Listed as a National Trust property, the Windsor is a treasured landmark that uniquely combines the Victorian elegance of a bygone era with today’s five-star facilities.
Afternoon tea is served at the hotel’s signature restaurant One Eleven Spring Street. As it’s quite popular, bookings are recommended. Guests, dressed up for the occasion, select from a wide variety of freshly prepared teas that include my favourites – Ceylon Orange Pekoe and Darjeeling. In keeping with tradition, tea is served with a charming selection of finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with jam and cream, all tastefully served on a three-tier silver stand.
“We come to the Windsor for afternoon tea not just for nostalgic reasons,” say regular guests John and Beth, newly settled in Melbourne from England, “but as an elegant meeting place to catch up with friends and families over a nice cup.”
This combination of fine tea, good food and social interaction in a relaxed setting is the key essence – and joy – of afternoon tea at The Windsor.
Tea At The Windsor Hotel,
103-115 Spring Street, Melbourne,
(03) 9633 6000,