Sunday, 18 March 2018

Afternoon Tea Review: Celtic Manor

On Friday I treated my mum to afternoon tea at Celtic Manor as a belated Mother's Day treat.  The hotel is a five star golf resort just outside of Newport in South Wales, and so within easy reach for both of us.  We know lots of people who have been there, but it was our first ever visit.  The building is a little strange looking from the outside (it's sometimes unkindly referred to as appearing like 'Colditz' from the M4 as one drives past!), but once inside the airy foyer makes a very good impression with its high glass ceiling and the curved balconies.

Celtic Manor @porcelinasworld

Celtic Manor @porcelinasworld

The afternoon tea menu we tried was the standard winter one (they were changing the menu over to the Spring one a few days after our visit).  The tea is £21.50 per person on a weekday, and £29.50 on weekends. The menu did sound very impressive, here's what was on it.

Afternoon Tea

Savoury Selection
Baked pear, feta and walnut tart (V,G,D,E,N)
Tomato cream cheese and avocado crostini (V,D,G)
Smoked salmon and spiced beetroot relish blini (F,D,G,E)

Sandwich Selection
Salt beef and horseradish baguette with watercress (G,Mu,D)
Cheddar cheese and cider chutney (V,D,G,SD)
Egg mayonnaise with mustard cress (V,E,D,G,Mu)
West coast crab brioche roll, with crisp lettuce and spiced mayonnaise (G,Cr,D,Mu,E)

Hand-made Cakes and Pastries
Almond and glace cherry Florentine tart (V,D,G,E,SD,N)
White chocolate opera slice (V,D,G,E,S)
Lemon meringue torte, lemon and lime curd centre (D,G,E,SD)
Salted caramel whoopie pie (V,D,G,S,E)

Freshly Baked Scones
Warm fruit & candied peel scones and vanilla bean scones (V,D,G,SD)
Served with strawberry preserve and clotted cream (V,D)

As anticipated, the food was truly excellent.  It arrived on a savoury plate each, and a three tier stand of sweet items to share.  Starting with the savoury, the presentation was wonderful.

Celtic Manor @porcelinasworld
The 'savoury selection' and sandwiches

I ate two of the salmon blinis as I traded my mum an egg sandwich for one.  Those little feta tarts had delicious pastry, I particularly enjoyed that.  We moved on to the scones, and were impressed.  They were mini scones really (are full size ones ever necessary as part of an afternoon tea?), and extremely well made.  Little clouds, one with fruit, and one plain.  As for the cakes and sweet pastries, we only managed half of them.  The lemon meringue torte was sharp (just how we both like it), and the white chocolate opera slice was a slice of heaven.  They were exceptionally good.  My eyes looked longingly at the remaining whoopie pie and florentine tart, but my stomach said no.  My mum felt the same, so we both left those and decided that they could be a treat to take home for my dad instead.

Celtic Manor @porcelinasworld

Overall I felt it was an excellent afternoon tea, and my mum was very pleased with her belated Mother's Day treat.  However, I have eaten many afternoon teas over the years and it's not just the food itself to consider when I'm writing a review.  I like to be very thorough.  So, aside from the food, you might want to consider the setting and the service.  These were of course discussed with my mum, who is also an authority on afternoon teas.

The setting is rather a disappointment.  Rather than being in the grand pillared restaurant itself, the afternoon teas are held in the 'Garden Room', a sort of conservatory annexe.  There are no carpets or other soft furnishings, which made for unsuitable acoustics as it was so busy.  It was very, very loud and we got a bit of an impression we were in a canteen.  As for the table settings, there were those lovely crisp thick tablecloths and napkins that all good hotels have.  The crockery is plain.  Oddly, the teapot and coffee pot were mismatched and felt far too large for the table, they were both fairly heavy and awkward to pour.

The tea selection wasn't particularly extensive for a 5 star hotel. I think there were only about 8 different types on the menu.  I opted for Earl Grey, purely because I hadn't had it for ages, and my mum had a coffee.  I appreciated that it was leaf tea rather than bagged, that was a nice touch.  However, the leaves were loose in the pot rather than being in some kind of infuser for easy removal.  This meant that after my first cup the rest had brewed too long and become a little on the bitter side.

As for the service, there was room for improvement.  (This seems to let down quite a few places, I feel like I mention this in pretty much every afternoon tea review I write?)  Staff were professional but we had long pauses while we tried to get some hot water, some spoons, some more water, the bill...  Honestly, for a place with so many staff there didn't seem to be anyone assigned the task of checking on existing tables!  Also, when we asked for the remaining cakes to be boxed up to take away, they just brought a box and left in on the table for us to fill ourselves.  Manouevering a gooey whoopie pie into the box just using our table cutlery and not a proper cake slice was a mission and a half.  I feared for the crisp tablecloth but we managed eventually with a bit of teamwork!

It is always fun to visit somewhere different for afternoon tea and we enjoyed our Celtic Manor experience.  I think the quality of the food is really some of the best I've had at an afternoon tea, and for the price (on a weekday when it's cheaper!) it's decent value.

So what did I wear for the occasion?  Of course, I put on a frock for tea.  I chose one by Karina dresses, because it's stretchy and a lot of cake can be eaten in it!  In a momentary loss of sanity I nearly opted for bare legs, then remembered that it's not Spring quite yet (snow was forecast for the next day) and put some opaques on.  As a concession, I pinned a flower brooch to the dress, and picked light coloured accessories to try and at least pretend that winter's over.

Is it?!  The snow did arrive yesterday!

Celtic Manor @porcelinasworld

Linking up with: #iwillwearwhatilikeVisible MondayPassion for FashionFancy Friday


  1. You really can't miss Celtic Manor when you're driving past on the M4. I've often wondered what it was like inside. It's a shame the afternoon setting wasn't a grander room, and that there was room for improvement in both the service and the table setting. It all looks and sounds rather delicious, though, especially for that price. Love your dress and it looks fantastic paired with those opaques! xxx

  2. Okay, can you believe that after visiting the UK for 19years and over more then 28times, I never had a afternoon tea! Shame on me!

  3. Glad that you and your mother had a nice time. I like the outfit you chose to wear. Thank you for the review.

  4. Sounds like a bit of a letdown (boooooooooooo!), but the photos were beautiful, and the food sounded really tasty.

  5. I do love it when they include feta tarts or some other savoury than just the sandwiches. Sounds fab but could be better. Thanks for the review x

  6. I can't believe the Celtic Manor looks like that inside, it's hideous from the road when we drive past. I'm amazed!!
    I'm not a fan of cake but the feta tarts - oh yeah! xxx

  7. The food looks lovely, but it was a shame it was let down by the acoustics and the service. My family is going to the 5 star hotel on the edge of my village for afternoon tea on Good Friday for my mum's birthday. I'm really looking forward to it because the chef was in the finale of Masterchef last year and has a really good reputation. xx

  8. Celtic Manor always looks a bit grim from the road. That tea looks delicious - I'm surprised to hear they don't put more effort into the setting for serving it; I would definitely expect some nice potted palms and fancy china in a five-star venue.

  9. Ha! I grew up on the Ringland council estate down the road from the Celtic Manor. I remember when it was the Lydia Beynon maternity hospital before was sold to become a hotel. It is a monstrosity on the hill there! I visited decades ago and haven't been back since. The menu look great...I may have to visit again.xx

  10. Somewhere I’ve been! I didn’t realise it was a 5 star hotel though - I never got that impression from my room... and sounds like you didn’t from your experience either. Although I remember reading that stars were to do with facilities more than anything else once. The food looks good at least - and I did have some lovely eats their too, even though it was a conference buffet! xx


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