Newest Review: ... to spend a honey moon night. The service on arrival is very good. We were offered tea and coffee in the drawing room (at no cost) whilst ... more
A little tea-dious.
Cliveden House Luxury Hotel (Berkshire)
Member Name: magenta23
Cliveden House Luxury Hotel (Berkshire)
Advantages: Novelty, the scones and cream and jam!
Disadvantages: Everything else
**Please note this is review on a visit for the Afternoon Tea service only**
Cliveden House is a grand stately home in Berkshire set in over 300 acres of National Trust parkland. The grounds and house are open to the public to visit most of year round, but during the Christmas and New Year period is open only for hospitality, including Afternoon Tea.
The hotel side of the business is run by the von Essen chain of luxury hotels, there are many outrageously grand rooms to hire for the night..starting at £200 per night and rising. The hotel also serves dinner and afternoon tea to non staying visitors in the lobby, but you must book.
I visited here for a family afternoon tea between Christmas and New Year. Upon entering the grounds you are greeted with huge 'closed' notices, we knew this referred only to the grounds, but for people who haven't done their homework this could prove very off putting and maybe these off season signs need to be reviewed so it's made clear what is open and what is closed.
From entering the estate, it's quite a drive to the house, but is a very grand sight once you arrive. Not one for stately homes, I was impressed I was going to eat here but my first thoughts were 'it looks haunted!'.
There was six of us for afternoon tea. Myself being the youngest, and some elderly relatives. We were seated in a sort of makeshift 6 seater table. I understand these places have antique furniture that are pieces in their own right and it doesn't all match but it was rather and awkward set up for the 6 of us. Three were sat on a low sofa, one on a reclining type armchair at the end and myself and my Nan on a rather high wooden bench facing the others. It felt like we were looking down on them. I was extemely uncomfortable sitting on there and I'm sure my Nan was even more than me.
The place was reasonably busy with about 7 or 8 groups in for afternoon tea. There were 4 members of staff around and first of all we were seen to relatively quickly. The menu consists of about 20 varieties of tea. Myself not being and adventurous tea drinker, I've never liked anything but good old PG.. struggled. I supressed my urge to say 'builders' and settled on Ceylon. My mum hates tea and asked for coffee!!
The tea was brought by a French 'waiter' who poured our drinks for us and left the pots on a nearby sideboard. He then brought out the food which was a good amount of food for the amount of people.
For six people, we got 3 cakestands each of 3 tiers. The bottom tier had a selection of sandwiches cut into little fingers. (Crusts off of course!) These were a selection of fillings but, it was a bit like a guessing game as to what was what. No menu was provided for food so we were a little unsure what we were eating. The next layer had fancy little cakes, which looked so much better than they tasted. Sickly sweet and very dissapointing. I was expecting cream buns and eclairs. They were however mini pink meringues, and wafer creations which were very much for show. The top layer was scones with cream and jam. These went down well with all of us. Finally something we all knew!
By the time we were halfway through the food, we were thirsty again so I hopped up to get the pots and pour the rest of our tea. Bad move. The waiter was not happy, I was told off for pouring our pots of tea. That was his job apparently, however instead of pouring us more tea he informed us as those pots had been there a while, fresh pots were on their way. These took a further 15 minutes to arrive. It was brought by another female member of staff, who poured all the tea but forgot mum's coffee. I think we really all would have just preferred our original pots and could pour it as and when we were thirsty. After all they were left next to us but we couldn't touch them!! I understand they want to provide excellent service and are probably told to pour all drinks for guests, but the staff just weren't there when you needed them, so the whole thing ended up being a little ridiculous.
The lobby we were situated in was grand I guess. There was a huge fireplace, everything was dark wood, and well very sately home. To me though, I wasn't getting posh and upmarket but more stuffy and old fashioned. I think it just missed the mark.
The Afternoon Tea cost £24.50 a head. Not as much as I was expecting but a reasonably high price for what we got. The amount of food was more than subtantial. We worked out about 4 little sandwiches, 3 cakes and 2 scones per person. We didn't finish it all though and they put our left overs in a box to take home. This took a further 15 minutes for the waiter to find a box, however. For the service, attitude of the staff and uncomfortable setting however I feel it was not worth it. Nice to tell your friends you've had afternoon tea at Cliveden, but I won't be doing it again.
Summary: Should have been so much better
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