Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Afternoon Tea Review: The Gliffaes, Powys

For those of you who like to take your afternoon tea in a rural setting, may I suggest The Gliffaes Country House Hotel just outside of Crickhowell in Powys, South Wales.

Afternoon tea here is buffet style, and a very reasonable £12.50 per person.

The rooms where tea is served are quite special.  There is a large, comfortable lounge with a roaring fire, leading into a smaller but no less beautiful sitting room that then opens up into a large conservatory with views across the valley.  On a sunny and warm day, sitting on the terrace must feel quite special.  Alas on the day I visited, it was a misty and cold day and we sat right by the fire in the main lounge to stay cosy.

The afternoon tea makes its appearance at 4 o'clock sharp, and is laid out on the tables along with plates and napkins.  A member of staff is on hand to pour tea or coffee.

Sandwiches: 4/5
The sandwiches were on a mix of white and brown bread, and included tomato (no cheese?!), cucumber, chicken and egg.  They were perfectly adequate, but nothing special.  Had obviously been freshly made.

Cake: 3/5
The cake was a mix of types and quality.  First of all, the flapjack was the best I have ever tasted - the perfect texture, not too heavy or sweet, with a hint of orange.  I was disappointed with the cherry shortbread, which was missing the crisp texture.  I also found the ginger cake to not quite reach the standard I expected - the icing was sweet and gingery, but the cake itself dry and yet more gingery and in need of a hint of lemon or something to cut through and lift it.  Also sampled, and that were good, but not excellent, were lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sponge, chocolate cake, rocky road and scones.  I take testing afternoon tea very seriously, and I didn't stop tasting until I couldn't physically fit any more in.

Service: 5/5
A team of staff were continually replenishing the cakes and sandwiches, and one member of staff was tirelessly dishing out the teas and coffees.  

Ambience: 5/5
I really enjoyed being in the cosy surroundings on such a misty Welsh day.  We attended on a Saturday so it was very busy - my sister has been on a week day and her and a few friends had the entire lounge to themselves.  There are lots of copies of Horse & Hound and other such country life magazines to read, and it's quite informal as people use the hotel as a base for walking and other outdoorsy activities.  Beautiful grounds.  Children are welcome and there were lots of them there when I was.  Whether you are a parent or not will decide whether you think this a plus or minus point.

Crockery: 3/5
Standard, rather uninteresting.

Tea: 3/5
No choice of tea!  My single-most, largest criticism.

Overall: 4/5
It was a particularly busy day and there was a large queue for the buffet but I'm not blaming the staff.  I think perhaps the procedure could be reassessed - maybe have teas and coffees on a separate table to stop it slowing people down?  Or have waitress service for teas and coffees so that people could just help themselves to the cake?  It really would be lovely to be able to order a specialty tea.  Also, some of the buffet is a bit tricky to manage - it's fine to get a plate with a few different cakes on, but once you start factoring in that you need to put some jam and cream on your plate to have with your scone, and that you also need to carry a cup and saucer, and a napkin, you realise you don't have enough arms and have to take another trip.  And join the back of the queue, again, by which time your tea is cold.  So, for a busy day, 3/5 is my score overall, but if you can time it right, 4/5.

1 comment:

  1. What an enchantingly lovely setting to enjoy a proper afternoon tea. There's a famous old hotel called the Empress in the city of Victoria here in British Columbia which puts on an old-fashioned inspired afternoon tea most days. I've never been to one, but really hope to the next time I'm in Victoria (which is long overdue...I haven't been there since I was 14).

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Your outfit is so cute and stylish!


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