It’s Fall. There is a slight chill in the air, comfy sweaters are coming out, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Iced Caps are everywhere. It’s also a great time of year to spend some quality time in Niagara-on-the-Lake!
While you are in Niagara-on-the-Lake, treat yourself to ‘High Tea’ at the Prince of Wales Hotel. One of the most photographed buildings in Niagara-on-the Lake, the Prince of Wales Hotel sits at the corner of King and Picton Streets, surrounded by lush flowerbeds, horse-drawn carriages and beautiful architecture. It’s the location for that perfect ‘selfie’ or family photo. But you have to wander inside to discover the incredible charm that the hotel has to offer.
As you walk up the red carpet towards the decorative doors, you will begin to feel like something special is about to happen.
The beautiful door handles with the Prince of Wales insignia of three feathers surrounded by a crown open into a foyer that makes you take notice.
The gold embossed wallpaper and the beautiful woodwork remind me of royalty (or an episode of Downton Abbey), and I am hopeful that Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex will jump out from one of the rooms and whisk me away for tea!
The cornerstone on the hotel is dated 1864 and although it has undergone various name changes, the Prince of Wales Hotel was born in 1901, following a visit by the Duke and Duchess of York. It has undergone extensive renovations over the years to ensure its Victorian charm remains intact.
The Drawing Room, also referred to as the ‘Tea Room’ reminded me of sitting in a comfy living room surrounded by overstuffed chairs and sofas, along with my friends and family and lots of belly laughs.
I couldn’t help but stare at this gorgeous silver bowl full of stunning pink roses that will steal your breath away! Okay…that may be absent from my comfy living room. It’s the little extras that make this experience so special.
We were lucky enough to be seated in the solarium, a small sunroom that overlooks the main street. This was the perfect place to people watch both indoors and out. Spending a couple of hours in the afternoon with friends and family sharing a traditional High Tea is time well spent. When most people think about High Tea, it has a rather haughty ring to it. Don’t let the name fool you as it is not just for the rich and famous! The rooms were filled with people from diverse backgrounds, dressed comfortably and instead of music overtaking the room, I listened to the sounds of people talking, laughing and making memories, all in a shared space while enjoying their own unique experiences. Few people were on their phones, except to capture that perfect picture (guilty), but the magic was in watching people make memories.
There are many options to choose from, including Traditional High Tea of finger tea sandwiches, pastries and scones, Prince of Wales Tea which includes the traditional fixings with a selection of Canadian cheeses, Royal Tea, which includes the traditional offerings with a glass of sparkling wine, Kir Royale or a mimosa, Monarch Tea, which includes the traditional tea, cheeses and sparkling wine, Kir Royale or mimosa, and the Little Prince/Princess Tea, for guests 12 years and under, which includes two sandwiches, a scone and a selection of cookies. How cute is that!!
Being cheese lovers, we opted for the Prince of Wales Tea. The triple-cream brie melts in your mouth (calorie-free??). The Oka and aged white cheddar were little pieces of heaven. I have to admit I promptly traded my blue cheese for some extra grapes, but I am told it is fresh and tasty. The cheese came with enough crackers to feed a family of four! Very generous portions, accompanied by grapes, a fresh strawberry and a blackberry that bursts with flavour.
Our tea arrived in beautiful bone china pots. With one pot each, I didn’t know how we were going to drink it all but somehow, we managed to do them proud!
The main course arrived in style, on a perfectly polished three-tiered tray. Our hostess explained each layer and left us to our own devices, while checking in regularly. The Prince of Wales signature scones are made with jasmine-infused raisins and served with traditional strawberry jam, butter and crème fraiche. They were served warm and were the star of the show. Very few words were spoken during this course!
The tea sandwiches included crustless ham and swiss cheese, cucumber and cream cheese, and another amazing surprise…. turkey salad on puffed pastry! The sandwiches and fillings were so fresh and were the perfect size, so we were able to keep on sampling. The mini bagels with goat cheese added a nice touch before we reached the top tier—the pastries!
By this point we were wondering if we would cross the finish line. The pastries included butter tart squares, macaroons, sugar cookies and the most incredible lemon vanilla mini cupcakes with strawberry icing that melted in your mouth. Outstanding! I have to admit that we both sampled the cupcakes, but our full bellies told us to draw the line at that point. As with most guests, the offer was made to take the remaining pastries home.
The atmosphere in the tea room was so comfortable and two hours flew by much to our surprise. Although the tea room was full, it was not crowded. Everyone had their own space to enjoy special moments. High Tea is still very much a social event, both for the young and old, and all ages in between. Our hostess, Samantha, has worked in the Tea Room for almost four years. She spoke so fondly of her co-workers and the staff at the Prince of Wales Hotel, and her praise was genuine. She is also one of many who stay after hours to help polish all that silver! Her kind words were wonderful to hear in a business where customer service and word-of-mouth is crucial. It is often the little extras that can make the difference. The Prince of Wales delivered a dining experience that we expected from their establishment.
When you plan your next trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, make sure you include a stop at The Prince of Wales. You will be glad that you did!
Until next time…
Nice to Know
Address: 6 Picton St., NOTL
High Tea: Daily from 12-6pm
Last seating is 5pm
$36 pp for traditional tea, add-ons extra
Candlelight Tea Friday and Saturday 7-10pm
Call for reservations