My family recently had the pleasure of enjoying a Festive Afternoon Tea at the Culloden Estate & Spa just outside Belfast. In family tradition we meet before Christmas in a local hotel. This was the first time we had chosen the Culloden and we have already decided it will become our traditional venue of choice. With ease we reserved a table over the phone a couple of weeks before. The whole experience was memorable from start to finish. We were greeted on arrival by a friendly and courteous manager called Peter and taken to a beautiful table overlooking Belfast Lough and a direct view of the famous herb garden within the grounds of the Culloden Estate & Spa (worth a visit!). Although the Mitre restaurant (where we dined) and Crozier lounge (just to the right when you enter) were busy, especially in the run up to Christmas, we felt as if were the only party there as our dedicated server checked on us throughout our time there as well as another manager called Jeff - not too often, but just the right amount to remind us they were there to make our time all the more enjoyable. The ambience was relaxed and the hotel was beautifully decorated, elegant and stylish. Each table had a miniature poinsettia which was a nice touch.
As we had come for Festive Afternoon Tea we only had to choose our hot drinks. There is a fabulous selection of fine teas and coffees and the staff are only too willing to recommend one that may suit your preference. The best part was when our server came out smiling with a beautifully stacked selection of pastries, sandwiches and scones (which were still warm!). Having experienced many 5 Star hotel afternoon teas, I can say with ease that the Culloden surpassed all of my expectations by presenting such a fabulous festive fayre! There was a generous range of various freshly filled finger sandwiches, salmon in mini croissants (my favourite) and a selection of vegetarian sandwiches. We had mentioned this at the time of our reservation and it was duly noted as my sister had her own plate of several vegetarian filled sandwiches. The pastries ranged from macaroons, festive mince pies, chocolate eclairs, Baileys' (!!) shots with candied orange and even white chocolate shortbread. There was so much that we weren't even able to finish it all, but we were able to take anything we didn't eat home in beautiful little boxes to enjoy at home. Our whole experience was finished off with a glass of champagne, which you can enjoy for an additional charge (definitely worth it, especially if you are there for a special occasion) and we were then left free to enjoy the view for a little longer until we had to travel home.
The staff made the whole experience so memorable, nothing was too much trouble. The food was fresh, tasty and the presentation was impeccable. Top tip: don't eat before you go, this is no ordinary afternoon tea. Will we be back? Definitely... why wait until Christmas, there are birthdays and other occasions which will give us an excuse to return sooner! A great place to start off the Christmas festivities.
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