An art-tea afternoon with Van Gogh and The Caledonian Hotel

It’s the most talked-about event in the capital for quite some time, so a visit to Van Gogh Alive was a must for a girlie afternoon in town. When I discovered that The Waldorf Astoria – The Caledonian was celebrating its partnership with the event with a special Van Gogh Themed afternoon tea, our plans were complete.

The Caledonian is an institution and despite my less-than-subtle hints to my daughter (age-12) that Peacock Alley lounge, formerly a railway station concourse and ticket office, is rather salubrious, I’m not sure she was prepared for quite how lovely it is. As we were shown to our table in a comfy booth her eyes grew wide and she declared it to be ‘very fancy’. Fancy indeed, and the service here is perfectly pitched. We are brought the tea menu and both the adult and child’s afternoon tea menu.

I chose an orange blossom oolong tea (not quite Van Gogh’s almond blossom, but close) and my decidedly unfancy daughter plumped for a hot chocolate (which turned out to be pretty fancy in the end).

Unable to stop myself from spoiling the surprise I scan the tables around us and spot a cake stand featuring what looked like it could be Van Gogh themed delights. It looked stunning from a distance and I was so excited to see it close up.

First up came a plate of exquisite sandwiches and savouries. The children’s version is simpler and my daughter was asked if she’d like to swap anything out that she didn’t like – which was a lovely touch. Sandwiches were soft, with generous fillings and I loved the crispy duck, rocket, cucumber and coriander wrap.

The star of the show arrives shortly after and I indulged in a glass of bubbly to celebrate. The cakes are delicate and exquisitely crafted to look like the works of Van Gogh. I wonder at the skill that’s gone into creating them and hope that they taste even half as good as they look.

I don’t wish to entirely ruin the surprise, but I will say that there’s a sunflowers inspired macaron, a rich chocolate tart with a self-portrait of the Dutch master, a starry night gateau and a frangipane with almond blossom, amongst others. The buttermilk and citrus scones were light and fluffy and we loved the fact that the jam and cream came served in little acrylic paint style metal tubes for us to squirt out. This got my daughter’s creative juices flowing and she created a lovely flower, which she promptly squished between the two halves of her scone.

We left feeling very satisfied and looking forward to continuing our afternoon of culture just a short walk away. The Van Gogh Experience was well-worth a visit and we were happy to sit down on the floor and watch the amazing light-show telling the story of the artist’s life while enjoying his great works. The sunflower walk-through was an instagrammer’s dream and my daughter could hardly contain her excitement, or her camera phone finger and proceeded to snap away with gusto.

Immersive Sunflower Room by Richard Blake

Grabbing a Van Gogh rubber duck in the gift shop to remember our day by we headed for home feeling culturally enriched.

Enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea experience at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh. Exclusive to Van Gogh Alive ticket holders, enjoy a discounted rate of £45/person including Afternoon Tea and a Van Gogh inspired cocktail, available March 17 – July 17, 2022. Reserve now to experience a special Van Gogh Afternoon Tea available for a limited time from March 17th – April 13th. Exclusively for bookings in Peacock Alley, reserve your space today by quoting ‘Van Gogh’ in your booking notes or directly to our reservations team. Van Gogh Alive ticket confirmation must be presented upon arrival to your reservation.

To book, visit: or Phone: 0131 222 8832

Tickets are available at £22/20 (concessions) for adults and £15 for children, with school group discounts available and Under 5s are free of charge.