Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Brasserie at Mercure, Manchester

Two weeks ago we headed off to a surprisingly sunny Manchester for an afternoon of tea and cake at one of the city's hidden gems.


On a bright summer‘s day, the views outside Manchester's Mercure Hotel are some of the best in the city. Three floors high and overlooking the bustling Piccadilly Gardens, this serene dining area offers an escape from city life, whilst still remaining at its heart. As a Manchester girl, I really loved having the opportunity to view my city from a new perspective, watching people carry out their daily lives whilst taking a quiet moment to enjoy a cup of tea.

Inside the décor is stylish and exactly what you’d expect from a hotel of this kind, and whilst a touch of maintenance here and there wouldn't go amiss, the room was still a delightful space in which to take tea.

On any regular day, Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens can be a chaotic blur of suits, shoppers and students. From the view on the third floor of The Mercure, Manchester, it's a picturesque metropolis and the perfect contrast for a relaxing afternoon of cake and tea. 

The restaurant inside the hotel is laid out very nicely with a separate space for Afternoon Tea and tables for 2 dotted along the huge windows allowing for just the right lighting on a summers day and stunning scenery. 

Like Caroline said, the décor could serve to be updated but nothing too major! With simplistic furnishings and warm natural tones, It really is a very pleasant space to be in. 


I can honesty say that I wouldn’t change a single thing about the Mercure’s menu. A success in its simplicity, this tea offers well executed classics, at a great price and is pretty fabulous. The sandwiches (Ham & Mustard, Cucumber, Salmon, and Egg) were freshly made on soft white and brown bread (always a winner), whilst the scones were brilliantly fruity and delicately sprinkled with icing sugar.

As with any afternoon tea, the main focal point was the cake selection, and on this front the Mercure didn’t disappoint. Out of the three choices available, my favourite was the berry-fruit meringue which provided a nice contrast to the other components, whilst also getting me in the mood for summer. I was particularly impressed with the overall balance of desserts menu, which were neither too cakey or too moussey, instead offering a variety of different textures and flavours to suit all tastes.

I must say, I was very impressed with the Afternoon Tea menu at The Mercure. With a selection of interesting teas and a fantastic cake assortment, it's a complete steal at just £12.95 pp.

The sandwiches were great; fresh bread and a choice of fillings including my favourite, salmon - it was clear we were on to a winner from the start! 

The scones were extra yummy and sprinkled with icing sugar to make the treat all the more sweeter and accompanied by clotted cream and strawberry jam - perfect! 
But of course, saving the best for last, the wonderful cake selection. We had a fab trio of berry-fruit meringue, carrot cake and gorgeous banana and custard pie. I'm quite hard to please when it comes to getting the cake balance right but The Mercure deserves top marks for an arrangement that has a great mix of both light and rich desserts. 

To top it off, as a rather experimental tea drinker, my tea of choice was a gorgeously named, Gunpowder Green. It had a subtle smokey kick to it but was quite soothing at the same time. I'm definitely a fan! 


The lady who looked after us during our visit was friendly and attentive, guiding us through the afternoon tea experience with great ease - great service!

I completely agree with Caroline, the service here was great and our server was particularly attentive and had a lovely bubbly personality too which really added to the welcoming tone. 

Overall Thoughts
At present, the Mercure is one of Manchester’s lesser known afternoon tea venues, but this shouldn’t be the case - if you’re ever in the city check them out - I for one had a fab time!

I am surprised The Mercure isn't shouting about its afternoon tea from its 3rd floor heights! If you're looking for something that doesn't break the bank but feels just as special, be sure to book yourself in! 

Cupcake Rating:
The Mercure, Manchester is situated in the heart of the city's Picadilly Gardens. Afternoon Tea is served daily on the third floor restaurant between 2.30pm and 5pm. Tea is priced at £12.95 pp. and booking is essential. For more information and to book, please visit the hotel's website here.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Charlotte in the City Reviews: 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea at 51Buckingham Gate, London

Last week we sent our London girl, Charlotte Vowden, to 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel to sample their new and exclusive 24K Gold Afternoon Tea. Here's how she got on:

Fit for a King or Queen

The moment you lay eyes on the table set for Gold Afternoon Tea at 51 Buckingham Gate you realise it’s going to be special. Champagne flutes perch on gold coasters beside white and gold-embossed menus, while tea cups finished with patterned gold trim, paired with polished golden teaspoons, stand out against the black tablecloth. It’s dazzling.

51 Buckingham Gate

To get proceedings underway the waiter will invite you to take a seat so he can pour you a glass of Luxor Pure Gold 24K Brut Champagne, half a bottle of which is included in the price of the tea, and within which flecks of real gold dance around among the bubbles.

After this he will officially welcome you to five star hotel 51 Buckingham Gate with an explanation as to what you are about to be served. It sounds a little formal but in such regal settings, just minutes from Buckingham Palace, the sense of ceremony feels appropriate.

The Full Tea

Taken in a wood-panelled room where people talk in hushed tones the Gold Afternoon Tea is new to the hotel, which has a gorgeous Victorian-Edwardian stone and brick façade, and the courtyard which resides at its centre is a wonderful place to relax after you've eaten. The savouries include parma ham and ruccola mille-feuille, beetroot bread with sun dried cherry tomatoes and a smoked salmon pinwheel. The variety of ingredients and textures used puts  traditional platters of finger sandwiches to shame.

The tea menu offers a range including green, black and white as well as herbal infusions. Running with the gold theme I chose the lotus tea which has a rich yellow colour and tastes superb.

Prepare to be wowed when the scones and sweets arrive on an all-gold three tiered cake stand because everything that's edible glitters – even the cream and jam for the scones is sprinkled with gold leaf. Such an impressive sight is worthy of a fanfare upon entrance.

The pâtissier has put an admirable amount of effort into both the recipes and decoration of the cakes and pastries - such as the Gold Leaf opera cake with a nest of spun sugar on the top - but the crowning glory is the champagne and gold leaf jelly. Served in a small glass it is spruced with a white chocolate flower and has a gold dusted centre. It’s elegant, simple and a light way to finish a heavy afternoon tea. By the time your plate is cleared even your lips will be glistening with a dusting of gold.

51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites & Residences’ new 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea costs £99 for two.  It includes a range of scones, cakes and sandwiches as well as half a bottle of Luxor Gold Leaf Champagne. Available until 31st December 2013, booking required with at least 24-hour notice.

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.

Twitter: @charlottevowden

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club: Twitter Teas

A couple of months ago we asked our lovely twitter followers to tweet photos of their favourite Afternoon Teas - this is what we received!

1. First up, sent in by @MoorsideFriends was Annie's Liverpool - we're loving the stand and Strawberry Shortcake selection!

2. In at two, sent in by @sameverett203, was Harvey Nichols Manchester - what a classy looking tea!

3. Cuthbert's Liverpool was another favourite with both @Thynie and @_ladyvic_ listing it as their fave - we have to say that we couldn't agree more - read our review here!


 Cuthbert's take two by @Thynie...

4. Number four was the the Great Gatsby Tea at Harvey Nichols 5th Floor London - submitted by @Loopy279 - don't you just love it?

5. Who's for tea at Eric Lanlard's Cake Boy? @cookesarah was and so are we - Read her blog post Here

6. Kelly-Michelle (@80pairsofshoes) had a few favourites and we love them all - Check out her blog!

Browns Hotel...

Landmark Hotel London...


Intercontinental Park Lane, Royal Afternoon Tea...

Lanesborough Hotel...

The Berkeley...

The Dorchester Vintage Afternoon Tea...


7. Submitted by Olivia Seymour (@Ollyseymour), the Belfast Merchant Hotel tea has to be one of our favourites - wonderful colour palate!

8. @tgirlheloise shared our love of the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester with this wonderful photo!

9. Simon Dunn Chorlton (SDV_Chorlton) recommend their own Chocolate Afternoon tea and we have to say it looks absolutely delicious!

We love being inspired by your teas. If you'd like to feature in our next twitter teas post, get in touch at @TeacupReview with the hash tag #TwitterTeas. 

In the meantime let us know your thoughts, have you been to any of the places above. Can you recommend anywhere else? Get in touch!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: PIMA Bar at Hilton, Liverpool

Afternoon Tea; it's what sunny Saturdays were made for. Here at The Afternoon Tea Club, we headed to Liverpool to spend an afternoon in style at one of the city's top venues, Hilton Liverpool. Here's what we thought ... 

Tea Time


Situated in the heart of Liverpool's L1 complex, PIMA Bar boasts the perfect location for both shoppers and Albert Dock day trippers alike. Housed on the ground floor of Liverpool's Hilton Hotel, the bar is a crisp white canvas for modern day dining. Huge windows are draped with long white curtains that let in just the right amount of light yet separate the bar from the busy restaurant strip outside. The tables are laid out in a traditional way with white linen table cloths and minimalistic copper furniture. Bold artwork brings a burst of life to the room and injects a bit of colour to this otherwise simplistic yet contemporary dining space. 

Located only a few short minutes away from Liverpool’s iconic Albert Dock, the Hilton Hotel’s PIMA bar was the location of our latest Afternoon Tea adventure. Decorated throughout with white chiffon drapes and a selection of quirky Charlie Chaplain movie posters, the Hilton's tea lounge pays hommage to the cinematic legend with a projector screen placed at the foot of the room as a tribute to the late, great Chaplain. The colour scheme inside is simple, with clean lines, white table cloths and brown leather chairs which compliment the overall flavour of the tea well.

Pink Bubbly!

This is definitely one of the most sophisticated looking tea arrangements we have come across. Presented on dark wood with individual sections for each stage, it really is a very modern interpretation of Afternoon Tea. 

We had pre-booked a special Pink Champagne Tea and when seated we proceeded to sip on glasses of gorgeous Pink bubbly. However, when our tea arrived it seemed a lot less pink than we had anticipated. When comparing with neighbouring guests, their tea appeared to have a much wider selection of fuchsia treats, which made us question if ours was in fact the standard tea option. However, despite the lack of girly cakes, our tea was actually very good. 

We had a selection of sandwiches including; egg, prawn, ham salad and classic cucumber. The ham was delicious and definitely my favourite, with the refreshing cucumber sandwich coming in at a close second. 

Sandwich Selection

The scones were also really tasty and we each had our own individual pots of jam which was very handy. The scones were also pre-cut which was a nice touch and definitely limited the chance of mess! 

Finally we had a very well balanced selection of cakes including; chocolate fancies (complete with cute treble clef decoration), Victoria sponge, battenburg and raspberry sponge. They looked so good I had to question if they were by Mr Kipling himself! I loved the Victoria sponge the most, possibly one of the fluffiest cakes I've had on my tea travels. 

The one thing that let this afternoon down was the actual tea. For starters, our food didn't arrive with a pot of tea and so we had to wait a little while to ask a staff member to bring some over. We were surprised to learn that there are no tea options and instead guests are given a standard pot with a tea bag. Thankfully I'm a fan of a good old cuppa but more mature tea lovers might be a little put off by the lack of choice. 

Fancy Fancies

In the absence of a pink afternoon tea, the Hilton's standard offering is a good alternative!
Presented on slick compartmentalised box stands, the Hilton’s afternoon tea offers a unique interpretation of the traditional past time. During our visit we were treated to two of these lovely stands, but I could definitely have attempted a third - I must however note, that I was little disappointed by the absence of a tea selection, but I guess you can’t have it all.

If you read the blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m a stickler for freshness and also that I can't stand stale bread... well, I’m happy to report that the Hilton didn’t disappoint. Served on a variety of white and wholemeal breads, the finger sandwiches at the PIMA bar came in four flavours: Prawn; Egg; Cucumber & Cream Cheese; and Ham & Mustard. My favourite of the selection was definitely the Cucumber & Cream Cheese which was very light and refreshing. Offering up a similar success rate, the sugar dusted fruit scones with Bonne Maman conserve and clotted cream, were equally delicious, whilst the cakes were incredibly well balanced. Out of the selection available, my favourite had to be the chocolate fancie, which was deliciously rich, with a lovely iced finish. I also loved the strawberry garnish which accompanied the cream!
Warm Scones


The service at PIMA was good but there are a few areas that could be improved upon. When our food arrived there was no explanation of the different layers, a custom we have become quite familiar with during Afternoon Tea, and it would have been nice to have known a little more about the menu. I also noticed that we were not offered a tea top up which was a little disappointing for me. The staff did explain it was a particularly busy afternoon and those we did meet were really lovely and very friendly. I just felt that the restaurant could benefit from a better system so that guests are looked after in equal measures and at more consistent intervals. 

I won’t focus too much on the negatives because they’ve already been covered, but I agree with Laura that the Hilton Liverpool could benefit from a more structured service rota and perhaps a couple of extra staff on hand to assist during peak times. However, this aside, all of our interactions with the staff on site were very pleasant and courteous.

Pink Cakes!

Overall Thoughts
I did enjoy my afternoon at PIMA - proven in the fact that we very much overstayed the afternoon tea hour and a half welcome slot! I think that it perhaps relies on the fact that as a Hilton restaurant, guests will continue to come, therefore the restaurant maybe dwindles a little in the quality department in comparison to some other hotels we have visited. Still the food was really great, the staff were friendly and I think that with a tighter service, afternoon tea here could be perfect - with a few more tea choices! 

High Notes

As with anything, there is always room for improvement and I just know that with a little attention, the Hilton can offer the top rate experience that its name commands. Nevertheless, great food and friendly staff - well done!


PIMA Bar is located on the ground floor of Hilton Liverpool in L1. Afternoon Tea prices range from £13.50 to £21.00 pp. For more information and to book, please visit their website HERE.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Wimbledon 'Not Afternoon Tea' at OXO Tower

Following hot on the heels of their successful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Not Afternoon Tea, OXO Tower have launched their themed delight - Wimbledon Style!

Experience the tastes of summer:

Join us at the OXO Tower to celebrate the fabulous fortnight of tennis with a Wimbledon themed Not Afternoon Tea Experience. OXO has planned a best of British affair, yet with the promise that there won’t be a scone in sight.
The ‘first serve’ is a glass of delicious OXO Champagne. Choose one of the four Not Afternoon Tea plates (a selection of decadent desserts paired with a unique cocktail) and enjoy a smoked salmon and cucumber crostini. Finish on a sweet note with a gingerbread tennis racket with strawberries and cream pistachio coated truffles to take home; meaning everyone’s a winner.
Glass of OXO Champagne
Smoked salmon and cucumber crostini
Gingerbread tennis racket with strawberries and cream pistachio coated truffles to take away.
So what do you think? Will you be heading to OXO Tower this summer?

Available at the OXO Tower Brasserie Sunday – Friday, 3pm until 5pm and Saturday from 2pm until 4.30pm. Friday 14 June until Sunday 14 July. For more information or to make a reservation please call 020 7803 3888 or email

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Charlotte in the City: Bond & Brook, Fenwick on Bond Street, London

Last week we sent our London tea gal Charlotte Vowden, to sample the delights of a designer afternoon tea at one of the city's most fashionable venues. 

Tucked away on the second floor of Fenwick on Bond Street, chic restaurant and bar Bond & Brook offers a dainty afternoon tea that could tempt even the most dedicated of shoppers away from the West End stores.

Separated but not severed from the shop floor by glass divides, Bond & Brook has a sleek contemporary style with white walls, a polished marble floor and a dazzling pewter bar that acts as a divide between the bar/lounge area and formal dining space. 

In keeping with its location among the designer labels of Fenwick’s ladieswear department, there’s a subtle fashion theme running throughout - from a library of fashion-related coffee table books and magazines to iced gingerbread biscuits shaped like shoes that are delivered on your tea stand. They’re details that don’t go unnoticed. 
Served from 3pm, by which time the restaurant’s lunchtime rush has passed, afternoon tea is taken at tables dressed with crisp white cloths and delicate silver cutlery. The menus and napkin holders add a welcome injection of colour, ensuring that the minimal style doesn’t feel clinical. Large windows along one wall allow natural light to flood the space but on a dull day a variety of tall funky transparent lamps shed light on proceedings. 

For such a modern setting the afternoon tea is surprisingly traditional. Edibles come out on a three-tiered stand and the ornate tea service is pure silver - the two-handled sugar pot is particularly darling. Tea is sipped from fine china cups, which the attentive staff are happy to keep topped up. 
The selection of teas on offer is modest but all tastes are catered for and the Angel Peach is a summertime must. The choice of finger sandwiches, dressed with a salad garnish, includes classics such as Wiltshire Ham and English Mustard but a Devon crab and mayonnaise number features alongside cucumber and mint to provide something a little different. 

Petite sultana scones come in twos and they’re adequately light and fluffy while the confections, sprinkled with glitter, are delicious and bite-sized - so taking your time to savour the treats and not eat them in one go is advised. The lavender shortbread with marshmallow and jam is best enjoyed if you let the chocolate it is encased within melt in your mouth.

Bond & Brook does not operate a dress code which makes it perfect for a spur of the moment afternoon tea fix, but it gets busy at the weekend so booking is recommended. The portion sizes make it a treat rather than a full-on indulgence, ideal for ladies who want to get back to the serious business of retail therapy post-tea.

The Bond & Brook afternoon tea is £18.50 per person and is served daily from 3pm. To make a reservation visit:

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.

Twitter: @charlottevowden

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Wimbledon Tea at the Dorchester, London

Celebrate the Wimbledon season at the Dorchester!

With tennis ball cakes and a wimbledon mousse, the Dorchester's offering looks set to take centre stage this summer. read more here:

Wimbledon, the world's most famous tennis tournament will be celebrated at The Promenade at The Dorchester. Enter into the spirit of the occasion by enjoying one our special Wimbledon Afternoon Teas, with Champagne, tennis inspired cakes and pastries, and strawberries & cream, naturally. 
What do you think? Are you loving this tea as much as us? Comment below with your thoughts or message us at @TeacupReview

Champagne Wimbledon Afternoon Tea and Pastries, £55.00 per person, Five sittings Daily: 1.15pm, 2.30pm, 3.15pm, 4.45pm and 5.15pm, A discretionary service charge will be added to your bill. All prices include VAT. For further information, please telephone The Dorchester on +44 (0)2076298888 or email Visit their WEBSITE

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Product Review: teapigs tea bags

It's always nice to arrive home to a huge gift bag - even better when it's full of fab tea - which is exactly what we got from the lovely folk at teapigs.

teapigs selection

Teapigs offer a huge selection of teas and we were treated to four of their fantastic flavours including; super fruit, everyday brew, peppermint and Darjeeling earl grey. Here's what we thought!

The first thing I noticed about teapigs was the lovely packaging. Boxed in neutral brown card and labelled with individual colours for each flavour, they're very cute and modern and have quite an indie feel to them. 

The teabags themselves are a little different too. They're shaped in small pouches which kind of look like mini drawer fresheners - and they smell just as good as them too! The bags are designed in quite a revolutionary way with biodegradable sachets and traditional strings for brewing. 

My favourite of the four flavours was the peppermint - refreshing on its own but incredibly soothing with milk. Just the perfect cup to wind down with before going to bed and a real winner in my household. 

For those who like a strong brew, everyday brew is great. It's bursting with flavour and totally holds up to its name. 

I could definitely see myself buying this tea in. 

time for tea.

What’s better than sitting outside on a hot summer’s day with a nice glass of iced tea? - Nothing - And with the lovely weather we’ve been having recently, now might be the perfect time to give Teapigs Super Fruit Tea a try. I’m not sure if it's been created specifically for the iced tea market, but it certainly fits the bill and is absolutely delicious with a couple of ice cubes. As it says on the box, the flavour is strong and fruity, with exciting berry bursts and an exhilarating citrus hint - offering a distinctive yet subtle blend. I also tried it warm and have to say that it's just as nice and well worth a try if you're in the mood for something a bit different.

Like Laura, the peppermint tea was another favourite in my house and I'll definitely be buying more soon - Renowned for its digestive benefits, it's a great one to drink after meals!

For their great presentation and delicious flavours, teapigs are definitely worth a try.


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Afternoon Tea News: High Tea at Parliament

Fancy lording it for the day at the Houses of Parliament?

Here's what you can expect:
Tea can be taken in the elegant surroundings of the Pugin Room in the House of Commons; an historic room which provides fine views over the River Thames.

The House of Commons chefs have created a tempting array of savouries such as citrus marinated Scottish salmon with cream cheese, lemon curd and chive on a mini bagel, and free range egg mayonnaise with watercress on wholemeal bread. Sweet courses include sultana scones with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream, and Valronha chocolate delice. Beverages are a selection of loose teas or freshly brewed coffee. Vegetarian and gluten-free requirements can be accommodated.
Will you be heading off to parliament for a high tea? Let us hear your thoughts - comment below or tweet us at @TeacupReview

The afternoon tea option is available as an add-on to selected guided tours on:
Saturdays between 1st June and 24th August 2013, Thursdays and Fridays between 1st and 23rd August 2013 and will be served at 2pm, 3.45pm and 5.15pm in the Pungin Room and priced at £19.95 (+entry costs) Please visit their WEBSITE for more info
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