The Windsor Hotel is undoubtedly the home of Melbourne’s grandest afternoon high tea. Mum and I plan a special girls outing there at least once a year, often we are celebrating a special occasion and other times the special occasion is just life. This time around it was all about my gorgeous Mum, Annie, in celebration of Mother’s Day. The lobby was beautifully decorated for Mother’s Day with pink hydrangeas and sparkling shoes, adding to the celebratory atmosphere.
The Windsor is the last remaining grand heritage hotel in Australia, built in 1883 and designed by architect, Charles Webb. The Windsor pre-dates some of the world’s most iconic luxury hotels, such as The Savoy in London, The Waldorf Astoria in New York, The Ritz in Paris, and Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Originally named The Grand Hotel, the name was changed to The Windsor after hosting a luncheon attended by Edward VIII, The Prince of Wales in 1923. Edward is famously known for abdicating the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, changing the line of succession.
As a keen lover of history from the Victorian period, staying at The Windsor is like stepping back in time. There is an air of elegance and tradition that is embedded in the excellent service and attention to detail demonstrated by the staff. The Windsor is located in the old heart of the city on Spring Street, close to Parliament House and the beautiful Treasury Gardens. Surrounded by theatres, restaurants, and green spaces with the city right outside the front door. Simply descend the red carpeted stairs and you will find everything you need within walking distance or a short tram ride away.
Afternoon tea at The Windsor is a quintessential Melbourne tradition. The hotel has served over two million guests since 1883 and still attracts hundreds of people each week. Looking around the tea room, there are young people sipping tea with the grandmothers and mothers, all dressed in their finest attire.
High Tea is served on a three tiered silver stand brimming with delights – the famous scones are on top in both traditional and sultana flavours, baked fresh daily and served with clotted cream and raspberry jam or lemon curd. The second tier offers a selection of gourmet savoury pastries and the bottom is full of soft ribbon sandwiches filled with cucumber and butter, egg mayonnaise with dill, smoked salmon with cream cheese, and ham with English mustard. On the weekends there is also a heavenly dessert buffet spread with 130 years of Windsor classics and a chocolate fountain. Afternoon Tea comes with a glass of French bubbles and a choice of beautiful teas that are served in a silver pot. All of the crockery is custom made, white with silver embellishments.
While we were in the city, we decided to take advantage of Melbourne’s thriving theatre scene with a Saturday matinee of Aladdin, and then we were very lucky to win front row seats to Book of Mormon on Sunday. Both shows were brilliant for utterly different reasons. Aladdin was an explosion of colour and stayed true to the Disney classic, whereas Book of Mormon was blasphemously hilarious and actually brought tears to my eyes from laughing so much.
A stay at The Windsor is worth every penny and although it may not be an everyday experience, it will instil beautiful memories that you will cherish forever. The rooms are reasonably priced by Melbourne standards, especially given the stunning location. It is an old hotel, so expect creaky hallways and a more classic style. Our room was super comfortable with lovely swags and tails on the window and a luxurious bathroom. The bed was soft and made with crisp white linen.
The Windsor Hotel
111 Spring Street
Telephone: +61 3 9633 6000
Afternoon Tea Bookings: https://www.thehotelwindsor.com.au/afternoontea
Would you like some more ideas of what to see and do in Australia? I know you do.