Overall rating: * * * * *
The iconic Balmoral Hotel is the address in Edinburgh; standing as it does at No. 1, Princes Street, above Waverley Station; it’s in the heart of the city, and dominates that area of town. If the Balmoral is the address, the Palm Court is the place to have tea. It’s a classical experience; an institution in Edinburgh to be enjoyed under the glass dome and Venetian chandelier.
Passing the kilted doormen outside the Balmoral, you’ll enter the grand yet understated foyer, with lovely flowers on the central table. Continuing past the flowers, the Palm Court is directly ahead. A smiling hostess greeted us, took our coats, and then seated us at our reserved table and offered menus. Were the palm trees real we wondered? They looked somehow too perfect, but we were assured that they are indeed real, and are kept in tip top condition by the staff.
Having come for afternoon tea, that is of course what we ordered, and the parade of food began with an ‘amuse bouche’ of spicy tomato soup. We were also served our choice of teas from the extensive list, and invited to change to different selections at any point during our visit. Teas on offer run from the traditional such as Royal Scottish Balmoral Blend (a blend of Assam and Ceylon) and Earl Grey, to the more exotic such as Rooibos, Gunpowder Green, and Passion Fruit & Orange. A range of coffee choices is of course available as an alternative to tea.
A display of sandwiches and savouries was soon delivered, including delights like smoked salmon and coronation chicken. Following this, the next ‘course’ consisted of wonderfully fresh baked scones, jam and clotted cream, and a selection of individual cakes and other sweet treats. A highlight was the crème brûlée, served inside an eggshell. Just when you think you can’t possibly eat any more, the friendly wait staff will wheel the trolley over, and offer a further selection of sweet temptations such as macaroons and small jellies. Finally a palate cleansing mini sorbet cone was delivered to each of us, as well as a ‘take home’ gift of a small tin of loose leaf Balmoral tea.
Enjoying Executive Pastry Chef Ross Sneddon’s creations at the Palm Court is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and music provided by a harpist adds a further touch of glamour to the already beautiful surroundings. For a special occasion, or indeed just to treat yourself, tea at the Palm Court is a must when you’re in Edinburgh.
I don’t know whether the service provided includes helping you to leave the building if you eat too much, however we managed to raise ourselves from the very comfortable armchairs, retrieve our coats, and stagger outside for a much needed stroll.
If you go:
Tea at the Palm Court is served daily from noon – 5pm, and booking In advance is highly recommended to avoid disappointment. Reservations can be made online through their website:
Price: £35.00 per person. Champagne by the bottle or glass is available at a supplement.
Stewart Mandy enjoyed afternoon tea at the Palm Court in June 2016 as a guest of the hotel.
Article written: July, 2016