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Hopetoun Tea Rooms

Home > Melbourne > Cafes
by Jon Jones (subscribe)
Founder and chief editor of WeekendNotes.
Published February 6th 2011

What has happened to tea culture? It seems as though everywhere I turn, Gloria Jeans and Starbucks have taken over. It's a shame really because not only is tea drinking underrated, it's also a large part of our heritage. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good cup of coffee now and then, but there is something immensely satisfying about the smell of a strong brew accompanied by a batch of freshly made scones.

If you find you are feeling nostalgic for a place to enjoy a good cup of tea of if you appreciate the customs, etiquette and decor of the Victorian era, you needn't worry anymore. That's because there is a gem of a place right in the heart of Melbourne where you can experience all the frivolity and charm of a bygone era - The Hopetoun Tea Rooms.

The Tea Rooms are situated in Melbourne's historic Block Arcade. Established in 1892, the Tea Rooms still operate today and stand as a reminder of Melbourne's colourful and fascinating history.

In the display window, you can see a wide variety of delicious desserts which include tarts, cheesecakes and of course the classic favourties such as lamingtons, vanilla slices and scones.

From the moment you lay eyes on this display cabinet, you will be captivated and indeed there is usually a crowd of people outside the store in a queue, not for a seat, but simply to capture a photo of the stunning display. A trip to the Tea Rooms is a feast for the eyes as much as anything else. Once you step over the threshold you will be transported back to the 19th century, to a time when high tea was a daily occurrence in aristocratic households and making and drinking tea was more of an art and a ritual.

The store is beautifully furnished in the style of the Victorian era, successfully transporting you into a world of luxury, elegance and and decadence. The walls are lined with antique wallpaper, the tables are made of white marble and there is an enormous antique mirror on the back wall. The colour scheme consists of emerald green, cream, black and splashes of gold and together with the dimmed lighting, all the period features are accentuated.

Admittedly, the Victorians had a few strange practices and customs that I'm sure many of us are glad have been lost to the past. But, if like me you are desperate to cling onto the traditions and luxury that once surrounded tea consumption, you will definitely appreciate the Hopetoun tea Rooms. The popularity of this place means that there can sometimes be a bit of a wait for a table, but the experience is well worth it.
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Why? To be transported back to our tea drinking days.
When: Breakfast or afternoon tea
Where: Shop 1 & 2, Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street
Cost: Average
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