When I was a little girl my Nana told me over and over again that when I was older she would take me for high tea in Ottawa at one of the city’s most prestigious hotels; The Chateau Laurier. For most little girls, that would probably be a dream. However, six-year-old me, being the huge tom boy that I was, hated the idea and prayed the day would never come.
Fast forward twenty years and high tea is one of my all-time favourite things. Delicate sandwiches, fresh scones slathered with jam and cream, and a selection of miniature desserts served with a fragrant cup of tea or a cheeky mid-day cocktail. What’s not to love?
I’ve had afternoon tea in London, Hong Kong, and a couple spots across Canada but as much as I love trying them abroad, I’ve been really excited to see this mid-day tradition grow in popularity in my home town as well. High tea in Ottawa is offered a several spots around the city today; from classy, elegant affairs to more homey and casual options. Either way, you can’t go wrong. So from one afternoon tea addict to another, here are the best spots for high tea in Ottawa.
Zoe’s at The Fairmont Chateau Laurier
1 Rideau Street
The place where it all started for me, though funnily enough I ended up taking my mom and my Nana rather than the other way around. High Tea at the Chateau Laurier is probably the most elegant of the afternoon teas in the city. The historic castle-like hotel, the classy, airy lounge that it’s served in, and the beautiful table settings make for a very refined and sophisticated experience. Along with the traditional tea menu, guests can also choose to add a glass of champagne or cocktail; an extra treat that I always indulge in.
The menu changes every so often which, since I go at least once a year, I love. Plus, they have ‘Prince or Princess Tea’ for little ones. It’s my favourite place for High Tea in Ottawa, especially during the festive season where they offer a holiday afternoon tea.
High tea is available during the week and on weekends. Reservations should be made in advance by calling Zoe’s Lounge at the Chateau Laurier. For more information, visit their website. Tip: When making a reservation, ask for a table by the window.
Note: Due to covid restrictions, you can also order afternoon tea to go! Just make sure to reserve in advance. I did this for Christmas and it turned out really well.
551 Somerset Street West
The Vanitea Room is another elegant choice when it comes to high tea in Ottawa. The setting here is modern elegance with shimmering chandelier lights and gilded mirrors. It’s perfect for a special occasion. The high tea menu includes both sweet and savory treats and for those with food intolerances, they also offer gluten free and vegan options. Want to make it extra special? You can add a mimosa or glass of prosecco to your afternoon tea order.
High tea is available every day but reservations should be made in advance. To learn more, visit the Vanitea Room website.
379 Richmond Road
Ottawa locals will recognize the name of this spot for their delicious French macarons, but the Westboro location also offers afternoon teas. The traditional afternoon tea offers three sandwiches, three pastries, and your choice of three macarons. There is also a ‘petit’ option which skips the sandwiches and offers scones and macarons. Gluten free, vegetarian, and kid options are also available. Personally, I think Quelque chose has the best French macarons in the city, adding a unique factor which, for me, makes it one of the best spots for high tea in Ottawa.
Reservations can be made ahead online at the Quelque Chose website. Please note that the afternoon tea options are only available at the Westboro location.
Note: During the pandemic, Quelque Chose is offering their afternoon tea orders to go. Please place your order in advance.
240 Kennevale Drive
Café Cristal is a true gem in Barrhaven; Victorian-inspired décor adds a lot of charm to this beautiful café, making it a favourite spot for locals who frequently come for coffee, tea, crepes, and for special occassions, high tea. The three-tiered tray has the traditional sandwiches, scone, and desserts but my favourite was the scone; Café Cristal makes their own homemade lavender blueberry butter which is to die for when paired with the blueberry scones.
Reservations must be made at least two days in advance. Contact information can be found on their facebook page.
Have you tried any of these high teas in Ottawa? Let me know your favourite!