For many it’s an annual treat to look forward to so it’s important to select your festive afternoon tea carefully. Here are 20 venues around Ireland that deliver on setting, style, service, and seasonal eating …
The Shelbourne, Dublin
The sum of many parts – sparkling chandeliers, the glow of the fire, impeccable service and delicate piano music – Festive Afternoon Tea, €65, at The Shelbourne is a feast for the senses. Served in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge from November 25 to early January, it offers dainty sandwiches, warm buttermilk and cranberry scones with clotted cream and Shelbourne preserves, and homemade gingerbread. There’s also a selection of treats such as a sherry trifle, choux buns with salted caramel mousse, and mango tarts. A champagne afternoon tea is available, €85, as is a special children’s festive afternoon tea for €35 per child; www.theshelbourne.com.
Killarney Royal, Co Kerry
As Killarney’s most central boutique hotel, Killarney Royal has been owned by the Scally family for three generations. Hospitality is in their DNA and the family has curated a relaxed yet personal ambiance within the hotel. Christmas afternoon tea, served in the Lobby Lounge in front of the fire, includes tea or coffee and a glass of mulled wine accompanied by homemade mince pies, mini desserts, buttery scones, and a selection of open and closed sandwiches. Served until Saturday January 7, from 12.30pm – 5pm it costs €30 per person; www.killarneyroyal.ie.
Killashee Hotel, Co Kildare
Since taking over in April this year, FBD Hotels & Resorts has completed the first phase of an initial €3 million refurbishment programme at Killashee Hotel, outside Naas. The stylish new Larkspur Lounge is the setting for afternoon tea, a firm favourite with both guests and visitors to the hotel all throughout the year. The festive afternoon tea will be served from December 1 through to January 3 and is €35 per person; www.killasheehotel.com.
The Heritage, Co Laois
Served in the cosy surroundings of The Galleria, The Heritage’s festive afternoon tea menu includes tasty sandwiches, warm fruit and plain scones with jam and clotted cream, mince pies and seasonal treats such as choux buns with roasted chestnut, white chocolate and mandarin mousse with cranberry granola and carrot, walnut and ginger cake with blood orange curd. From €40 per person, pre-booking is essential; www.theheritage.com.
Adare Manor, Co Limerick
Hosted in the magnificent Manor House Gallery, afternoon tea at Adare Manor is a treat to remember, with a menu designed by executive pastry chef Xavier Torne – a glass of champagne is the perfect final touch to an afternoon of elegant indulgence. This is part of the “Afternoon Tea Retreat” package which includes overnight accommodation for two in the Manor House and breakfast the next morning, €835; www.adaremanor.com.
Galgorm, Co Antrim
Catch up with friends or get the family together in Galgorm’s elegant glass Conservatory, with a view of the cascading River Maine, while indulging in some treats. From finger sandwiches with all the Christmas trimmings to cakes and scones, guests will be spoilt for choice with Galgorm’s winter afternoon tea, from €44 per person; www.galgorm.com.
The Westbury, Dublin
The Westbury Gift shop has just opened and has lots of gorgeous items selected by The Doyle Collection’s chairman Bernie Gallaher. Pick up one of the Donegal Turf candles, or perhaps a cocktail set from The Sidecar before enjoying festive afternoon tea in The Gallery. This must be one of the most iconic venues to celebrate the season – overlooking Grafton Street and its twinkling lights. Priced at €60 per person, or add a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne to the proceedings with the champagne tea, it’s €78 per person; www.doylecollection.com.
The g hotel, Galway
A stylish treat taking in the Christmas ambiance and décor, festive afternoon tea at The g hotel is served in the gorgeous lounge overlooking Lough Atalia. Enjoy a glass of Taittinger champagne before indulging in a selection of freshly baked fruit scones and sandwiches including smoked salmon rillettes with dill and cucumber, coronation turkey and cranberry, as well as sweet treats from traditional Christmas pudding to a salted caramel yule log. Afternoon tea is served with a selection of Ronnefeldt teas or coffee, and is €38 per person. Add a glass of champagne for €22. Available to book until January 6; www.theghotel.ie.
Castlemartyr Resort, Co Cork
Newly refurbished, there’s been a real buzz about Castlemartyr Resort and Christmas is a chance to see the new interiors and decorations in The Manor House, where afternoon tea is served. Choose between a traditional tea for two, €72, or the champagne version, €90, for two. Dainty savouries, scrumptious scones, and petite pastries accompany luxury tea blends all set against a sparkling backdrop; www.castlemartyrresort.ie.
Afternoon tea is served in the buzzy Lobby Lounge or by the fire in the Reading Room at InterContinental Dublin from December 1-31. The hotel’s pastry chef Orna Larkin has created the menu which includes fluffy scones, pain d’epice, gingerbread and lots of delicious finger sandwiches. There’s also some decadent desserts such as orange eggnog pannacotta; pear, pineapple and vanilla mousse; and dark chocolate, chilli and passionfruit entremet. The festive afternoon tea is €65 per person and the champagne version is €80 with a well-deserved glass of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut champagne or Blason Rosé champagne; www.intercontinentaldublin.ie.
Bushmills Inn, Co Antrim
If you’re taking in the north coast for some Christmas shopping, do check out THE GLOSS X The Shopkeeper’s list of recommended stores in the area. Afterwards book the festive afternoon tea at the quaint and characterful Bushmills Inn. Tea is served in the cosy Loft where classic sandwiches, savouries, and sweet treats are given a festive twist. The afternoon tea is served from 12pm – 3pm until December 31 and is £38.50 per person; www.bushmillsinn.com.
The Hardiman, Galway
The Hardiman, celebrating 170 years in Galway this year, overlooks Eyre Square where the Christmas Market is now in full swing. Guests popping in for afternoon tea at The Hardiman have a great view of the entertainment – including the Big Wheel and the Carousel – from their seats in the Parlour Lounge. Served from 1pm-4pm until January 6, afternoon tea is a mix of festive favourites with a twist (smoked turkey and cranberry aioli on brioche) and classic sweet treats such as a red velvet cake, cherry chocolate cheesecake and salted caramel and pistachio tartlet. Costing €32 per person or €39 per person with a glass of bubbles; www.thehardiman.ie.
The Westin, Dublin
This historic 19th-century hotel is the antidote to seasonal stress where effortless elegance and seamless service prevail. Pop in after shopping on Grafton Street, where The Atrium Lounge is a favourite for Christmas Perrier-Jouet afternoon teas (€142 for two) or in The Library, which provides cosy nooks and a fireplace for more intimate get-togethers; www.thewestinhoteldublin.com.
Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, Co Wicklow
If you are Christmas shopping at Avoca or Powerscourt House & Gardens, why not enjoy an indulgent festive afternoon tea in the Sugar Loaf Lounge at Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa with its panoramic views? Served daily from 1pm-5pm this gorgeous experience includes delicate sandwiches, buttermilk scones and a delicious assortment of pastries accompanied by your choice of tea or coffee, €110 for two; www.powerscourthotel.com.
Fernhill House & Gardens, Co Cork
The Georgian mansion house of Fernhill is firmly established within the West Cork social scene – mainly due to the popularity of its vintage afternoon tea. Guests can relax by the fire, or enjoy the garden views while being pampered by the O’Neill family and their team. Fernhill’s festive afternoon tea is available throughout the month of December when guests can sample an enticing selection of savouries, scones and divine patisserie. From €29.50 per person; a takeaway afternoon tea is €25 per person; www.fernhillhousehotel.com.
Mount Juliet Estate, Co Kilkenny
The focal point of Mount Juliet’s decorations is its Gingerbread House, now extended to include a whole village! Have a look, while you visit for its festive afternoon tea, €45 per person, served in the elegant Manor House every Saturday and Sunday. On the menu: finger sandwiches, homemade scones, jams, macarons, cakes, and spiced mulled wine. For extra sparkle, choose the champagne afternoon tea, €60 per person; www.mountjuliet.ie.
Wineport Lodge, Co Westmeath
If you want to escape the seasonal stress, this is the perfect location. Bike rides, boat trips and country walks are on offer at Wineport Lodge, while Glasson village with its traditional pubs, craft shop and gallery is just a short stroll away. Enjoy a day out and book its festive afternoon tea, served from 1pm-4pm either with bubbles or mulled wine, from €30 per person, €36 with a glass of prosecco or €45 with a glass of champagne; www.wineport.ie.
Stauntons on the Green, Dublin
One of my favourite hotels in Dublin, because of its art and views over St Stephen’s Green, this is a lovely location for a discreet afternoon tea after shopping in the city centre or taking in some of the exhibits at MoLI. Afternoon tea includes freshly baked scones, finger sandwiches and tempting festive treats as well as your choice of tea and freshly brewed coffee. Celebrating something special or just fancy an extra treat, guests can add a bottle of prosecco or champagne to toast the season; www.stauntonsonthegreen.ie.
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Available from Monday, November 28, there’s a sense of occasion about afternoon tea in The Great Room Restaurant at The Merchant Hotel. This is the decadent backdrop for a seasonal twist on its traditional tea with mince pies, Christmas cake and other savoury delicacies. Afternoon tea is also served in The Great Room Lobby and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Lounge and is £44.50 per person (which includes a gift for every guest!). There are two sittings, either 12pm – 2.30pm or 3pm-5.30pm. Should you wish to include a glass of Ruinart Brut or Forget-Brimont Rosé Champagne, the cost is £57.50 per person; www.themerchanthotel.com.
Carton House, Co Kildare
Served in the magnificent Gold Salon at Fairmont, Carton House, its festive afternoon tea, €65, features dainty sandwiches (honey baked Irish ham and smoked Knockanore cheddar, smoked salmon with horseradish cream, cucumber and egg with minted cream cheese and tarragon mayonnaise) as well as scones, (savoury, plain and cranberry) and patisserie (Mont blanc, choux buns and Armeniac). Add a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne for €88. Sittings are available to book every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 1.30pm and 4.30pm; www.cartonhouse.com.
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