Getting up early and getting out to the mountains first thing in the morning is perfect. You beat the crowds, your Insta game will catch the best light, and you’ll have enough time to relax with afternoon tea.
Sure, you can do it in a formal way at one of the Fairmont properties (the views from The Chateau Lake Louise’s Tea Room are unbeatable and the Rundle Lodge in the Banff Springs Hotel is equally stunning) but these options are a little more relaxed.
The best kind of high tea in the Rockies is one you earn. So leave the Chateau Lake Louise behind and head to the Plain of Six Glaciers on the back side of the lake, or up to Lake Agnes just north of the lake to find these three kinds of afternoon tea experiences.
The Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest alpine tea house in Canada, originally built in 1905 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Cynthia Magee rebuilt the Lake Agnes Tea House in 1981 and it is now run by her grandchildren.
There’s no electricity, so bring your cash and your patience. All of the items are made from scratch, by hand, and it can take some time to boil water on their propane stove. Supplies are hiked up and garbage taken down the 3.4km every few days by staff.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1924. Edward Feuz, a CPR Swiss Guide, suggested the structures as a rest stop for guests on their way to the Abbot Pass Hut. It was run by his wife, Martha, who slept on the floor to save room for paying guests.
When the CPR began to sell or demolish all of their backcountry lodges in the 1950s they hung on to the tea house until 1959, when it was sold to the Kimball family. Joy Kimball ran the tea house for 45 years, raising 2 daughters in the mountain meadows. The Kimball family still operates the tea house to this day.
If a K Country trip is on your itinerary, a pit stop after your hike up to Chester Lake or Mount Shark has to be made at Mount Engadine Lodge. Perfectly situated in the heart of the backcountry, this retreat makes for a great all-inclusive experience if you want to spend a few days getting all the hikes done, but it also serves an impressive afternoon tea.
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Sure, you can choose from a selection of Banff Tea Co. teas to steep while you enjoy housemade pastries and cream, but when they also bring by the charcuterie tray of bison loin and sausage, you’ll be asking for the beer and wine list.
Now that’s my kind of afternoon tea.