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High Tea at Hadley’s

Not so imposing from the street these days, but Hadley's Orient Hotel is once again grand and decadent inside

There is no doubt about Hadley’s Orient Hotel. It has the ambience and romance which the Canberra to Sydney train lacked -prices to match of course, but a lovely experience now and then. Mother’s Day was the perfect occasion.

Potted palms, comfortable leather armchairs and paintings fill the lounges

Hadley’s is a Hobart institution. Established in 1834, it has had chequered fortunes in its 184 year history, but was always the place to be. Many of the infant colony's leading lights such as surgeon, naturalist and parliamentarian William Crowther, or lawyer, and esteemed expert on biology and zoology, Morton Allport made their home here and it was also popular with the odd premier, Prime Minister and politician. Other distinguished guests included stars of stage and screen such as Errol Flynn and Dame Nellie Melba (1909), triumphant Antarctic explorers Mawson (1911) and Amundsen (1912) and a smattering of royal visitors, sports stars, musicians and comedians. 

Special guests include Errol Flynn and Polar explorers Mawson and Amundsen. When Amundsen arrived, looking dishevelled and accompanied by his dogs, he was given a room under the stairs because it was feared that "...he would be the sort who might leave without paying." He was feted three days later after his achievement was acknowledged by the King of Norway                                                                      – excerpt from Hadley's Courier

Always an early adopter of the latest technology, Hadley's was among the first places to have electric light, telephones, an electric lift and hot water. At one stage it even even boasted a skating rink* and has since been host to theatre restaurants, discos and numerous bars. Since 2014 however, it has been restored to its former splendour, befitting its historic position as a favoured hostelry of the well -heeled and famous.

The light - filled atrium has hanging plants on its walls. It's packed today. We have to stand in line until everyone is seated

The architectural scale is grand. While waiting for the doors of the atrium to open, we are invited to wait in one of the luxurious lounges. The grand piano plays. Chandeliers hang from high ceilings. Historic prints and water colours line the walls. Potted palms occupy vacant niches and fresh flowers adorn low tables. At last we are shown to white wicker chairs and seated at tables dressed in white linen with crisp linen napkins. Discreet but attentive waiters fill our glasses with bubbly. Then the teapots arrive – Green Rose for my daughter, French Earl Grey for me, followed by tiered cake stands of wicked delights.  It takes us three rounds of one Hour parking to finish and still there’s a morsel over, plus the packets of fudge all the Mums have been given.

In case you were wondering what High Tea was all about, you can read about it here - just click to enlarge the photo –excerpt from Hadley's Courier

A bit of food porn -Sorry, we'd already eaten the top layer before I thought of taking a photo

I should never drink in the morning. It does me in for the rest of the day, but the pleasant glow remains. Should I ever accidentally get rich and famous, I am looking forward to trying the 71 guest suites, especially the Explorers' room. Wish me luck. Don't worry if you missed out on High Tea for Mother's Day. They serve Traditional Afternoon Tea  from 2- 5 pm. Wednesday to Sunday, but you do need to book. 

Trevor, our lovely waiter hams it up

Many thanks to my darling daughter for a lovely morning.
- and No, this is not a paid ad for Hadley's!

* There's some disagreement here. Hadley's Courier says it was a roller skating rink, but  Postal History Records  show it to have been an icerink, not so far fetched given that the  then owner had icehouses on Mt. Wellington, from which he had ice brought twice a day.