Step Back in Time (for Tea) at the Banff Springs Hotel

I think it goes back to childhood. I remember putting on fancy dress from my dress-up box, inviting my friends over and having “afternoon tea”. It often involved imaginary tea – at that age tea tasted gross – and eating cookies, that I pretended were finger sandwiches.

afternoon tea banff springs

In my teens, my mum resurrected afternoon tea with family friends. Her friend and their three daughters would come to our house every year between Christmas and New Years and we would REALLY do afternoon tea. Scones with clotted cream and jam, cucumber sandwiches and I finally drank the tea.

Now in my -ahem – almost thirties, we splashed out. Mum and I recently had an overnight trip in Banff and we indulged in the famous afternoon tea at the Banff Springs Hotel.

Reservations are required, because this is quite the popular affair. At the $42-per person price tag, I was nervous that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I was wrong.

afternoon tea banff springs

On arrival we were sat right alongside the window in plush, purple armchairs. We had the prime view of the valley below and sat in near silence for a few minutes, marvelling at the mountains. Corny as it sounds, they really do take your breath away.

afternoon tea banff springs

Back in the day, this is what afternoon tea would have been like! Same view. Same scones. Photo source: Banff Springs Hotel

We were offered a selection of over twenty teas. Mum opted for a traditional black tea and I went for the fruity Kyoto Cherry Rose green tea. All the teas are served loose leaf, requiring the strainer to catch any stray leaves while you pour.

To cleanse our palate we were given a small glass of mixed berries in syrup with cracked black pepper. Delightful, but I was waiting for the scones…

afternoon tea banff springs

I want to jump back into this photo and eat these… all of them.

Holy moly, I didn’t have to wait long and it was worth it. I’m typically the sweet scone person, but the cheese scones at the Fairmont Banff Springs are sinfully good. I would marry the baker and have his babies for that recipe… if I weren’t already married… drat. Our three-tiered tray also came with a selection of sandwiches. Egg mayonnaise with alfalfa sprouts in an adorable mini-croissant. Coronation chicken with raisins. Cucumber. Radish. Smoked salmon.

I was pretty glad that I near-starved myself that morning. Even then, the real estate in my stomach was going fast.

afternoon tea banff springs

The dessert tray came out complete with macarons and tiny cake slices of many varieties. There were even some mini-eclairs which were probably the best part. The desserts didn’t thrill me nearly as much as I’d expected, but the memory of the scones is still strong enough to make my mouth water. We took a box of treats to go, our bellies over-stuffed, thankful that we didn’t need to decide  between whether or not to eat the goodies. Who doesn’t want to eat tiny cakes in their hotel bed later that night? Am I right?

afternoon tea banff springs

So, is it worth it? Heck yes. I know it’s pricey, and if you’re on a budget it’s probably not a great option, but what a great experience. The view, the food, the tranquility – turns out you CAN buy those things. As a Calgarian, it was a great little day trip, and for those traveling from further abroad, I’d say that it would rival any afternoon tea in bonny old England.

Have you ever had afternoon tea before? Ever visited the Banff Springs Hotel?

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