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If you’re looking for an afternoon tea venue steeped in history, then you can’t beat a visit to Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel in the heart of Warsaw.
Opened back in 1901, Hotel Bristol was built on the site of Tarnowski Palace, what used to be the home of an aristocratic polish family. Over the years the hotel has played many roles: it hosted the first government session upon independence, was used as a HQ during WWII and managed to withstand the Warsaw Uprising whilst many buildings around it were turned into rubble.
Falling out of favour as the years went on, the hotel was later nationalised and eventually donated to the University of Warsaw by the Prime Minister where it was used as a library until 1981 when it closed.
Thankfully this was not the end however. After the fall of communism Hotel Bristol was restored, eventually reopening in 1993 and is now known as one of the top luxury hotels in the city.
Now back to its former glory, Hotel Bristol is an absolute beauty to visit, with a jaw-dropping art nouveau interior that sends you back in time.
Afternoon tea at Hotel Bristol, Warsaw
Afternoon tea is served in the gorgeous Column Bar, with its dark stained timber panels, leather banquette seats, geometric friezes, chandeliers and wall lights designed by the hotel’s original architect Otto Wagner.
It takes a few moments to acclimatise to this room, which oozes classic sophistication, especially when you rock up with the other half and step kids straight from your delayed flight!
But even in jeans and jumpers and feeling slightly out of place we were more than ready for our sarnies and cakes, so although a spot dishevelled and slightly late, after a short conversation between our waiter and the chef it was agreed that they would still serve us our afternoon tea even though the kitchen had officially shut, cheering us up no end.
Wasting no further time, we opened the menu to see what our drink options were. I did consider the champagne option, which includes a glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, but chose to stick with one of the many impressive tea options, which saw classic English Breakfast accompanied by some unique flavour combinations.
Celebritea joins Assam with vanilla, then if you’re a fruit or herbal tea fan you might be intrigued by the Ruby Mentha; fresh mint and strawberry, or Tearilli; flavoured green tea enriched with pieces of pear, apple, bamboo leaves and flowers.
After choosing from the 12 tea varieties on offer, the waiter went off to bring out our food. Unfortunately there’s no personalisation available so you get what you’re given, never great for picky eaters like myself. However, between Justin and my step-kids we were able to share out the dishes between us so everyone got something that they liked!
The savoury canapés
Afternoon tea is served on a classic three-tier tray, so we started, as you should, at the bottom with our savoury canapés.
Some of the classics were there, such as egg mayonnaise and (polish) ham and mustard sandwiches, but out of these my favourite by far were the gorgeous smoked salmon and cream cheese rolls. These were like soft edible clouds, melting in the mouth with the perfect salmon to cheese ratio. Foodie bliss!
The prawn cocktail also went down well, as did the goat’s cheese mousse with red onion compote, which was served a flavoursome brown bread.
Scones that left me sad
Sadly, in my opinion, the scones did let the tea down. Tiny in size, they were also cold (freshly served scones where the cream melts in are the best!), which was disappointing. It also wasn’t clear on the menu that the scones were all fruit, which mean that (yup picky eater again!) I had to be super classy and sit there picking out the raisins. Thankfully my fellow dinners are used to my idiosyncrasies, so it wasn’t too cringe-worthy a situation, and even though they were small I wasn’t going to miss out on some scone action!
On the plus side I was impressed that we were given proper clotted cream rather than the whipped variety that occasionally pops up from time to time and the family also enjoyed the jams and ‘orange butter’, so it wasn’t all bad.
Things turned around when we reached the final tier tray – after a disappointing vanilla panna cotta the smiles returned when we turned to the sponges – a moist Battenberg was joined by a tasty pistachio cake with passion fruit mousse and my firm favourite – a chocolate nut roulade, topped off with a brandy snap.
These didn’t last long I have to say, which in my household is a definite sign of approval!
Sometimes the venue can make all the difference as it did on this occasion, for me the highlight of afternoon tea at Hotel Bristol has to be the setting, closely followed by the delicious savouries.
Even though the scones may not have been spectacular they were still enjoyable and the desserts didn’t disappoint, so overall it gets a thumbs up.
Well priced by afternoon tea standards but expensive by Polish standards, this was actually one of our most expensive meals in the city, but even so it was well worth it and I would definitely recommend the Column Bar as a great option for afternoon tea if you’re visiting Warsaw.
Afternoon tea at the Column Bar in Hotel Bristol is available Thurs-Fri from 12.30-5pm and Sat-Sun from 2-5pm. Traditional afternoon tea costs 59 Polish Zloty (approx £11 at time of writing) with Champagne afternoon tea at 99 Polish Zloty (approx £19 at time of writing). Find out more at www.hotelbristolwarsaw.pl/en/afternoon-tea.
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