Afternoon tea @ The Bristol Hotel: Review

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I love a good afternoon tea. But, just as with a roast dinner, I can be a bit picky. In some places, the scones are a letdown. In others, the cake selection is a bit boring. Others skimp on the jam and cream, while I’ve had some where the sandwiches have clearly been made in advance and aren’t tasting their best.

On a recent visit to Bristol, my mum stayed at the Bristol Hotel on Prince Street: the first time she’d stayed there, and she was pretty impressed. So impressed, in fact, that we decided to give the place a go for afternoon tea on her last day.

We were given a choice of the restaurant, whose floor to ceiling windows overlook the water, or the lounge, with its comfortable sofas and dimmed lighting. With a big celebration in the former (and a sleeping toddler when we arrived), we chose the latter – our low table and two sofas giving the occasion more of a relaxed feel.

The price point is about average for an afternoon tea – £19 per head – and includes sandwiches, mini cakes and both fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and jam, as well as the tea itself. There’s also a champagne version available for £25…but with my mum having received a free bottle of fizz as part of her stay package, we chose to have that with our afternoon tea rather than paying the extra.

Find our review of the River Grille at the Bristol Hotel here

The fizz arrived straight away and was pretty tasty, not too dry, not too sweet. Good start! We did have to ask for our tea, though – the order wasn’t taken when the food order was, meaning the laden stand arrived before our hot drinks. Our server was very apologetic, though, and our loose teas (with beautiful vintage print china cups) were soon brought over.

Afternoon teas generally look pretty impressive, and this one was no different: the sandwiches on the bottom tier, the scones in the middle and the sweet treats at the top.


Bristol Hotel Afternoon Tea


And the finger sandwiches were delicious: a selection of delicate cream cheese and cucumber, thinly sliced ham with just enough mustard for a decent kick, and a classic egg mayo. We loved the fact that the smoked salmon variant was served as an open sandwich on a thick slice of dense, soft rye bread as well, for a bit of variety.


Bristol Hotel Afternoon Tea - Sandwiches


The scones were the perfect size (too big and I can’t manage the cakes, too small and it seems stingy), with one fruit and one plain each. They were brilliantly baked, with a lovely glazed top and a dusting of icing sugar – and while the portions of cream and jam seemed a little on the meagre side for the three of us, our waitress was happy to bring more over when we asked.


Bristol Hotel Afternoon Tea - Scones


The sweets? They were a little more hit and miss. The macarons at the Bristol Hotel were a great example of their kind, nice and chewy and with a good crack to the shell. The mini Victoria sponges were light and fluffy, with a good ratio of filling to cake. And the small person woke up just in time to enjoy the generously iced chocolate cake, which was rapidly devoured…

While we loved the intensity of flavour and the tart taste of the passion fruit panna cotta, it was a little too grainy for my liking. And the mini lemon tarts, as pretty as they looked, featured an incredibly hard pastry without much real flavour, and a bitter, overly runny filling that didn’t do anything for us.


Bristol Hotel Afternoon Tea - Cakes


Overall, though, a great experience at the Bristol Hotel: friendly service, a nice environment and tasty food that certainly filled us up. Now my next task is to find a great afternoon tea in Bristol that focuses more on the savoury than the sweet…if anyone has any ideas, let me know!


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