Whether it be on my own or with friends, I sometimes go the extra mile with travel experiences. My lifelong friends and I were traveling through Egypt and we were spending a few days in Luxor. We had just finished an adventurous four day cruise up the Nile River that started in Aswan. Spending an afternoon at the historic Winter Palace was just what us ladies needed before we flew back to Cairo. It was a day of cocktails, afternoon tea and a sunset at this luxury resort in Luxor.
The history of this Luxury Five Star Hotel dates back to the British Colonial era and was inaugurated in 1907. The Old Winter Palace had seen its share of events and notables in the over one hundred years that it has been standing. Many European Royals have stayed here as well as the author, Agatha Christie. This is where she wrote her famous book, ‘Death on the Nile’.
Since I am obsessed with afternoon tea and historical places, it was no wonder that I wanted to go that extra mile and spend the afternoon at Winter Palace. We were staying at another resort along the River Nile about a mile down, so we took a taxi to the Palace in the early afternoon.
We arrived earlier than our afternoon tea reservation because I wanted to have a cocktail at their handsome Royal Bar. In Egypt, alcohol is only served in establishments catered towards tourists because it is an Islamic country. Since I do love a cocktail or a glass of wine, I did not mind going that extra mile for a delightful drink!
— Cocktails at the ROYAL BAR—
The Royal Bar inside the Old Winter Palace is just that, a very royal bar! Since we were the only ones there we had these luxurious rooms to ourselves. Well, the bar tender and server were also there, and they were incredible hosts to us ladies looking for a drink.
The space inside the Royal Bar was both sophisticated and masculine in design. The burgundy walls, classic furniture and parquet wood floors added and elegant ambiance while we sipped our cocktails.
After our cocktails were brought to us on a handsome serving tray, we relaxed and chatted while escaping the busy streets of Luxor. It was one of those “Just be in the moment” kind of experiences. If someone told me thirty years ago, that all of us would be sitting in the Royal Bar in Luxor, Egypt having cocktails and waiting on afternoon tea, I would have told them to put the joint down! It is funny where life takes you to and who with.
—— Afternoon Tea ——
Shortly after we polished off our cocktails, we were called into the Victorian Lounge. This elegant room with dazzling crystal chandeliers and ornate furnishings was where afternoon tea was held. We were brought to a sitting area in front of the large window to the left, and this is where we had our opulent tea service.
Fact: The Victorian Lounge was a favorite of King Farouk, the last King of Egypt. From here is where he enjoyed the treasured ritual of afternoon tea. I am not sure where his favorite place to sit was, I like to believe it was on the sofa underneath the window to the left!
Traditional afternoon teas are served sitting in this style of seating. Pots of tea and delectable bites all on a coffee table while ladies sat around on sofas and chairs. This was called “low tea” or the familiar name, afternoon tea. Low tea because it was enjoyed sitting at a low table. High tea is something entirely different. In any case, we were having a legitimate British style afternoon tea on low tables.
The tea service was elegant but I was not expecting anything less. Placed along the classic styled coffee table were delicate embroidered napkins, fine linen and monogramed china. It was very beautiful and I know all of us ladies felt special to have tea here. Also, I know that we secretly wished that our adult daughters would have joined us.
One of my favorite savories of this afternoon tea were the little canapes topped with cucumber and kofta, which is Egyptian minced meat.
This is why I love afternoon tea or should I say obsessed. There is an elegance and tradition to this ritual. First comes the tea and then the plates of delightful bites- scones, savories, tea sandwiches and pastries.
Every place that I had partaken in afternoon tea had their own spin to the food and that is why I also enjoy it. I like to be surprised with the creative talents of the chefs who put together their own version of a ritual that is steeped in tradition.
—— The Sunsets ——
As we were being seated for afternoon tea, the gentleman who was assisting us mentioned that we needed to catch the sunset. He was nice enough to remind us after we were finished and lead us out to the front deck of the Winter Palace. We caught the last moments of that gorgeous sun setting in the distance.
— Old Winter Palace —
This Luxury Five Star Hotel is remarkable in every way. Even if you are not staying here, you are more than welcome to dine and visit the grounds. Although we were not staying here, my friends and I were treated like loyal guests and everyone was very kind. After cocktails, afternoon tea and watching the sun set we decided to walk the grounds and visit the century old Royal Gardens.
The hospitable staff members kept reminding us that we needed to walk through the Royal Gardens in the back of the hotel. Yes, the gardens were very royal and a whole other world from the chaos of touristy Luxor. It was a true oasis of tall palm trees, lush greenery and meandering pathways. My friends and I enjoyed strolling the grounds and remarked how beautiful everything was. It was all so beautiful and so was our day here at the Old Winter Palace.
Enjoying the evening and relaxing in comfortable spaces
Let me be surrounded by luxury, I can do without the necessities!– Oscar Wilde
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