During our stay in Northern Ireland, Kat and I were treated to a festive afternoon tea in the Europa Hotel, located right in the centre of Belfast. We were entertained by the pianist in The Piano Lounge while we relaxed in comfortable chairs overlooking Belfast’s Great Victoria Street.
Our afternoon tea experience began with an introduction to the selection of 10 Thompson’s Family Teas, grandly displayed on a trolley. I must say, I found this quite exciting. See, I’d spotted the trolley the evening before but hasn’t realised these were teas. In fact, I had mistaken them for elaborate bar snacks and am so glad I didn’t dip my hand in and try any of them. As our hostess Helen McCune discussed each of the teas with us, she allowed us to sample the aroma of each in turn. Strangely enough, she thought we wouldn’t want to smell the rooibos and orange tea but being South African, that was my favourite and smelled like a little piece of home!
Once we had chosen our teas and opted to take champagne, our selection of festive finger sandwiches, pastries and cakes was brought to us on a delightfully modern three-tier stand.
The finger sandwiches were divine. I was really pleased that for once, salmon was not served but prawn and lobster instead. I am allergic to salmon but can eat prawn and lobster in limited quantities.
The finger sandwiches were served on Irwin’s Fresh Breads and in addition to the prawn and lobster, we enjoyed the Givan’s clove baked ham with wholegrain mustard, County Down roast turkey with savoury stuffing, and free range egg with spring onion and rocket. Our favourite was certainly the roast turkey, so much so that we asked for a second portion and barely left room for the pastries and scones.
One of the best aspects of the afternoon tea at the Europa Hotel Belfast is that guests are encouraged to sample as many of the teas as they so desire. Naturally, I began with the Rooibos with Orange, a delicately subtle tea, blended with orange and vanilla. It was delicious and I consumed the whole pot. With our scones, I enjoyed the Earl Grey Special and I finished off with the Florida Fruit Tea, a zesty infusion with orange, apple, papaya and rosebud seeds which proved an excellent accompaniment to the pastries.
We were treated to both plain and cranberry scones which were light and fluffy. Kat was a little concerned that they were served with buttered cream rather than clotted cream but to be honest, I prefer them that way.
We were also served traditional Christmas cake, miniature mince pies, Armagh apple and cinnamon sponge cake, gingerbread cupcakes and, by far my favourite, a Christmas trifle. Thank goodness we were encouraged to take our time because we were certainly full by the end of the meal.
As you may have noticed throughout my post, the produce at the Europa Hotel Belfast is all locally sourced and some items, for example the Thompson’s Family teas, were selected specially for Hastings Hotels. What impressed us most about the afternoon tea is how well-thought-out each aspect of the experience is from the teas to the delicious and interesting sandwiches to the selection of pastries and sweets. We appreciated the generosity of the portions and the offer of more sandwiches, which we gladly accepted. We especially appreciated the chance to sample a selection of teas and the chance to choose each tea according to our tastes.
All of these factors make the Afternoon Tea at Europa Hotel one of the best that I have experienced. I enjoyed it so much that I would love to return one day with my mother for one of our frequent afternoons off together.
Europa Hotel, Belfast
Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7AP
028 9027 1066
Cost: Afternoon Tea £20, Champagne Afternoon Tea £28
Open: daily from 2pm to 5pm.
We were guests of Hasting Hotels and Tourism Ireland during our stay in Belfast. As always, I promise to share sincere and honest opinions with my readers.