Ok so at this stage you know me (if not check out the rest of Niall’s posts here – Ed). I love food and I love Victorian architecture. So when my friend suggested we go for afternoon tea at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh I did not need much convincing. The Caledonian is located at the foot of Princes Street in the west end of this beautiful city. It offers commanding views over Princes Street gardens and of course the castle. But what makes this place so unique is the hotel is in fact the former Princes Street train station, the terminus of the Caledonian Railway line.
A stunning example of Victorian architecture built in the 1890s, it is made of local red sandstone. The original facade is still intact at the ground floor and you enter the hotel through the original station entrance. The hotel originally occupied the space above the station but when the station closed in 1965 the hotel took over the rest. Where we were seated for tea was the original station concourse and platform area. It was quite exciting to be in the space and to think of the history that passed through the ornate sandstone doors.
One of the great features of the room is the original station clock which is still intact and still runs that five minutes fast to ensure you don’t miss your train.
As for the tea itself, well sumptuous is one word to describe it. There are two options available, the Caley, which is a very reasonable £23 a head and the Specialty Tea which is £29. We opted for the Specialty Tea as we were spoiling ourselves. We were glad we did! There was an amazing array of delicate cakes and pastries along with the usual finger sandwiches and scones. But the cakes were the winners for me. Lemon meringue pie, fruit tart with crème patisserie, chocolate mousse with orange marmalade, Victoria sponge, salted caramel éclair, wild strawberry and white chocolate opera and banana loaf was all washed down with bottomless pots of tea. Needless to say we were suitably full, and feeling diabetic afterwards. It did take us a while to get moving, but what an amazing way to spend an afternoon!
I am always on the lookout for unique afternoon tea experience, and I think the Caledonian does achieve this. How many times will you get the chance to have afternoon tea in an original Victorian railway station? Overall it was a fantastic experience, and if you are in Edinburgh I would recommend stopping by. Booking is preferable especially at the weekend. The dress code is casual but as a rule I always encourage people to dress up a bit, it makes that little bit more special.
You can find The Caledonian’s website with all the details here.
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