Monday, 29 July 2013

Afternoon Tea Review: The Angel Hotel, Cardiff

It's time for tea once more.  On this cake mission I took my mother to The Angel Hotel in Cardiff.  Not to be confused with the Angel in Abergavenny (which does a truly superb afternoon tea - read my review here), this is a large Victorian hotel in a prime spot opposite the castle.  I had a voucher offering afternoon tea for two for £24, which sounded like a bargain as it would normally cost that each.

I've been into this hotel before, to meet friends or to attend conferences, but I'd never before taken afternoon tea and it was near the top of my list of Cardiff afternoon tea establishments to sample.  Our tea included sandwiches, scones, cake and a glass of champagne each.

Sandwiches: 4/5
The sandwiches were on a mix of white and brown bread, and included salmon, egg, ham, and grated cheese and pickle.  They were very much the standard sandwiches you get at these hotel chain teas, nothing especially exciting but they were freshly made and hit the (hungry) spot.
Cake: 3/5
There was only one type of cake, a lemon sponge, with the rest of the offering being patisserie.  There were cheesecake type desserts in little bowls, and sweet pastry tarts filled with creme patisserie and fruit.  It was a swelteringly hot day but the room we were served tea in was relatively cool, and as the cheesecakes and tarts had already started to wilt a bit on the plate, I suspect they had been laid out on the tiers in a hot kitchen waiting for our arrival.  The scones were nice, but didn't stand out from the many I have eaten over the years.

cardiff afternoon tea review the angel

Service: 4/5
The staff seated us and brought our drinks and cake-stand swiftly, but disappeared after this.  It took some time before we could attract attention just to get some water.  The waiter was polite, and apologised when he realised we'd needed water for a little while.

Ambience: 2/5
Stepping through the chandelier-lit bright hallway at the base of the sweeping staircase into the dining room and bar is an anti-climax.  The dining room is situated on the castle-facing side of the building and unfortunately in the afternoon this means it's in shadow - the sun is on the opposite side at this time of day.  The room is also decorated in the cold and bland could-be-anywhere style that pervades hotel chains.  It was mostly empty save for one other table when we arrived, and a little background music wouldn't have gone amiss to help cheer it up a little.

Crockery 2/5
Nonedescript.  It looked quite sad and boring on the veneered boring table, which didn't even have a tablecloth.  There was a cakestand, but it was one of those bare-minimum wire ones that you just put your own plates on, and unfortunately the plates were plain white in a budget rather than chic way.

Tea 3/5
I had a pot of very nice Earl Grey, and my mother had coffee, which she said wasn't anything special but it did the job.  I can't remember the full selection of tea from the menu, but it wasn't particularly extensive.

Overall 3/5
It was pleasant, but not outstanding on any level.  I think they're missing a trick in such a beautiful Victorian building not to continue the grandeur that's on the outside, on the inside.  They've got some serious competition directly opposite in the form of Pettigrew tea rooms, but that's more like sitting in your Grandma's living room - The Angel is different from Pettigrew's because it serves alcohol and is in such a grand building.  I hope someone catches on to this, redecorates, orders some fine bone china and overhauls the menu.  In the meantime, my tip would be to take tea in the sunny lounge adjacent to the hallway - you can at least enjoy nicer lighting, furniture and ambience than in the dining room.  Come on Angel, don't sell yourself short!


  1. I rather like that you assign a rating to the crockery. I frequently take note of it in restaurants as well. Shame that was so run-of-the-mill for something as lovely as tea.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. I love to go to fancy tea and used to have a tea club where we would host a tea once a month for each other. I LOVE, love, love how you rated each bit of your experience. I do this in my head. Love how you've done it here. I rate books I read with my vintage enthusiasts rating on music, dance, and fashion. Thanks for the great blog post and awesome rating scale idea for tea!


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