A New Emily Carr-Themed Afternoon Tea is at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver: Is it Worth A Visit?

Here's how to experience Emily Carr in Vancouver this summer.

Art and afternoon tea go together like cookies and…well, afternoon tea. The pairing just makes sense.

Enter: a new way to enjoy both classic Canadian art and sample some well-thought-out handhelds, whether you’re visiting Vancouver, celebrating a special occasion, or simply looking to elevate a weekend outing. This summer the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Notch8 restaurant is hosting an Emily Carr-themed afternoon tea experience in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition, Emily Carr: A Room of Her Own. But is this two-stop itinerary worth adding to your summer activity list? Read on to find out.

Stop 1: Emily Carr: A Room of Her Own, an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery

blurred figure standing in front of a row of Emily Carr paintings in Vancouver Art Gallery
Credit: Vancouver Art Gallery/Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Though the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Emily Carr: A Room of Her Own exhibition is not included with the afternoon tea reservation, it is worth a visit if you have yet to experience Emily Carr’s work. For those not familiar with Carr, she was a B.C.-based painter and writer in the early 20th century known for her modernist landscape work. She was considered an unofficial member of the Group of Seven and even has an art and design university bearing her name here in Vancouver.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has held several Emily Carr exhibitions since the artist’s first showing at the gallery in 1938. But what’s different about this exhibition that opened in Sept. 2023 is how it simultaneously details the gallery’s long history with Carr.

“This exhibition is as much about Emily Carr as it is about our relationship with her,” says senior curator Diana Freundl. Each section of the exhibit highlights these two narratives, she says, as visitors see Carr’s original works, but also learn about the gallery’s first Carr purchase, their largest body of Carr’s work (her works on paper), or learn about plans for a more permanent collection at the new location.

All in one room, visitors can observe the evolution of Carr’s work, from different style influences like impressionism to her relationship with the forest and her decided inclusion of Indigenous culture.  While any art aficionado will enjoy the display, this exhibit is particularly great for those who are new to Carr and want to learn more about the art, the artist and her legacy at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

It’s unfortunate there’s no package deal with the Fairmont’s afternoon tea because it is worthwhile to view firsthand the inspiration for the themed refreshments. However, if you want to save the gallery visit for after the meal, afternoon tea-goers will receive a 10% discount on general admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery on their way out of the restaurant.

Price: $29 for General Admission, free for youth, children, caregivers, and members.

Dates: September 30, 2023 – January 5th, 2025

Website: vanartgallery.bc.ca


Stop 2: Into the Forest with Emily Carr, an afternoon tea at the Fairmont’s Notch8 restaurant

Table with tea pot and afternoon tea food display, with wood and forest decorations in front of a painted background
Credit: Leila Kwok

Walk through the elegance that is Vancouver’s Fairmont Hotel to their in-house restaurant, Notch8 for some authentic afternoon tea. In a room tucked away at the back of the restaurant, visitors will step into an inspiringly immersive Emily Carr forest theme, with shades of painted green on the walls to place settings with faux-fern centrepieces. Plus, Gallery members who book afternoon tea on a Thursday or Friday will be greeted with complimentary bubbly (or soft drink). 

The menu itself incorporates multiple layers of Carr-themed items. The ‘Woo’ bread, a sweet roll with hints of cinnamon and named after Carr’s Javanese macaque, Woo, is a nice addition to the classic buttery scone. Stand out savory items include the BC forest mushroom tart and the Fraser Valley duck ham with Saskatoon berry. Highlights of the bottom dessert level are the visually-impressive Emily Carr macaron and the huckleberry cheesecake.

It wouldn’t be afternoon tea without some loose-leafs included in the price. To drink, the Ontario Icewine (yes it’s tea, contrary to the name) is a great balance of sweet and silky. For add-on cocktail options ($22+), Scorned By the Timber was delightfully smooth and subtle. The Emily Side-Carr also offers some fun name play, if you happen to be pun-inclined. But if you order the Fancy Forest, be careful to not spill the drink when removing the glass from the small opening in the presented casing.

Ultimately, is it worth it? If you’re looking for an elevated and unique dining experience with somebody who appreciates art, it is worth a reservation. The food, service, and price point are on par with what you’d expect from the Fairmont. And while this meal would be better appreciated by those familiar with Carr (hence the recommended gallery visit), the general Canadian forest theme is accessible enough that the spirit won’t be lost on those who don’t know her or her work. As for me, I’d say this experience was definitely my cup of tea.

Price: $74 per adult and $40 for children 12 and under.

Dates: May 30th – September 2nd, 2024 (served Thurs–Sun, at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm) 

Website: fairmont-hotel-vancouver.com