Perhaps it’s my obsession with British dramas or my love of tea but the idea of high tea has great appeal to me. Stopping in the middle of the day to sit and sip and nibble and talk. It seems like something done only by ladies with too much free time. But everyone can enjoy an afternoon tea break and the Windsor Arms Hotel offers the perfect backdrop.
Turning down a quiet side street, leaving the crowds and noise of Toronto’s busy Bloor and Bay neighbourhood behind, you are greeted by the historic boutique Windsor Arms Hotel. I had a chance to visit the Salt Cave at the Windsor Arms Spa but today a friend and I were all about the tea. The Tea Room is hidden behind a velvet draped curtain just off the lobby.
The Tea Room actually consists of three individual rooms known by their colour. Our host sat us at our table in the first and larger of the three rooms, the white room, but if you were to continue walking you would pass through the deep purple room and then the smaller rich looking red room. While some restaurants have wine or cocktail menus, the Windsor Arms Tea Room has a tea menu giving you a lot to choose from. You can get a little sense of the variety available when you glance at their online tea menu. As the High Tea menu is fixed, choosing the right tea is the only decision you’ll have to make during your visit but it can be a difficult task. Our server was able to provide us some insight on a few favourites.
Each guest enjoys their own large pot of tea giving you plenty to share and enjoy yourself. Our server was attentive without being bothersome, checking in to see if we needed a hot water top-up. Of course high tea isn’t just about a warm cupper. To enjoy while sipping a three-tier tray of finger size delights was brought to the table to enjoy. While our server walked us through each tier my mind drifted along with the delicious aroma of the warm fresh scones.
I liked the mix of sandwiches and sweets, rolled and layered in lovely detail. If you give 24-hours notice, the hotel can prepare a gluten-free menu for guests too. Although the Windsor Arms Tea Room doesn’t offer a children’s menu, it can be a great mother-daughter experience. Don’t be afraid to let your kids try new foods. My son discovered his love of oysters when trying an appetizer on holidays.
Don’t let the petite sandwiches and sweets deceive you, neither of us were able to finish the whole tray and boy did we try. I was actually surprised at how full I felt after our tea experience. Not to worry, your server can package up any items you didn’t finish so you can enjoy them later.
Feel a little fancy, pinkies up, and choose a hat for your personal tea party. Not only will you look the part but your $5 hat donation will help benefit the Windsor Arms Give Back Program to support women with cancer.
When I first planned this tea I thought we would sit, sip, eat and be done far sooner than the 2 hour sitting limit. I mean, who takes 2 hours to enjoy tea? Well, I guess I do. Of course good company helps as well as a comfortable environment.
The Windsor Arms Tea Room’s compact size, divided between the three sitting areas, adds to the cozy feel, like in a fancy sitting room at a wealthy friend’s house. Like with my spa experience, the Windsor Arms Hotel staff makes guests feel welcome, relaxed and never rushed. Why wait for a special occasion? Why not take a midday break and turn an average day into something memorable? Even if time is tight you can enjoy a little taste of high tea with the Windsor Arms’ Tea to Go, including sandwiches, tarts, scones and petit fours.
Here’s a little peek at our high tea experience: