In Seattle I think the Fairmont is kind of the place to go. The Queen Mary is very good as well but not quite the same level of luxury. I have had some of the baked goods from the QM and they are great.
I do think the Fairmont.... still getting used to it not being the Olympic, is more of a destination high tea.
this risks accusations of pedantism (not my first...) but 'high tea' is a working class affair generally served about 5 pm which includes major proteins like eggs and cheese which functions as the evening meal. what you are seeking is 'afternoon tea' of tiny sandwiches, delicate cakes and/or scones, fruit, crumpets and other light comestibles. it is served about 3 or 4 pm and is generally followed at 8 pm by dinner.
queen mary refused to allow my companion cream for her tea ("only milk is allowed") and the smell of the bird poop from the front window was not conducive to culinary pleasure. the olympic does an adequate job but nothing near the famed tea at the empress (another fairmont) in victoria
Oh how I miss the Wellington. :(
Queen Mary is ok - it's pretty squished, the birds are a bit gross, etc. The QM isn't a relaxing experience - all they do it tea and it's a tiny little place, so it's clear you are on a schedule and they expect you to keep to it. They pre-make everything, so substitutions seem basically impossible unless prior arrangements have been made. And they are a bit snotty about their teas in an odd way.
The Sorrento serves an afternoon tea in their fireside room, which is nice but a little uncomfortable as it has more of a sitting room feel than a "restaurant" feel. The tea was fine and the nibbles were nice.
Fairmont gets high marks, generally, except the cost.
I enjoyed afternoon tea (although not fancy at all - it's a cafe) at Coffee to a Tea in West Seattle. http://www.sugarrushbakingcompany.com...
I've been to one charming place in Tacoma, but it's been a while...I think it might have been the Hawthorne Tea Room, but I'm not positive.
Here's my break-down: if you want fancy, try the Fairmont. If you want clubby (as in, private club, not nightclub), try Sorrento. If you want to dress up with a tiara and act girly while squeezed in next to other tables doing the exact same thing, try the Queen Mary. If you want to be the only people in a casual place having afternoon tea with pretty good food, try the Coffee to a Tea place. Otherwise, try the place in Tacoma and report back!
This is a little unusual but i do recommend the tea services at Remedy Teas on 15th in North Capitol Hill. They do amazing teas (100s to choose from, each prepared properly) with organic sandwhiches, cookes, etc. This is not classic high tea but incredibly yummy and inventive. They also have a kids high tea that is wonderful. And no i don't work for them - i just LOVE tea!
345 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
There are 3 tea places on the Eastside that I know of. The British Pantry in Redmond has a large selection of tea, also a British restaurant, pub & gift shop. There is also a tea place on NE 24th St. in Redmond across from the Tuesday Morning store & one A Crossroads Mall in Bellevue.