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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.