Afternoon Tea at Mottram Hall
Afternoon Tea has really made a comeback and it seems to be served in most places now, although it is still seen as a treat due to the price tag usually associated with it.
The trip to Mottram Hall, Nr Prestbury, Cheshire was no exception, as it was my friend's birthday and therefore the chance to have a catch up and a birthday treat was combined and because my friend lives nearby it seemed an ideal location.
This was my first visit to Mottram Hall. It's about a 50 minute drive for me, from one side of Cheshire to the other. Being Good Friday the roads were quiet and the weather was beautiful, so the drive was a very enjoyable one.
It is an imposing sight upon arrival. There's a long driveway to follow and a golf course forms part of the hotel, which meant the car park was pretty busy but I did manage to get parked, even though it meant a fair walk to the Reception. I did feel the signage could have been a bit better, as it wasn't immediately obvious how to best get to the Reception. As it turned out you had to walk all the way round and couldn't cut through.
There was no-one to greet me on Reception, which was disappointing, which meant I had to rely on the fact that I knew the name of the room hosting the Afternoon Tea, from my booking, thankfully for me. It was like a rabbit warren with doors and corridors leading in all directions. I did wonder about leaving a trail of bread to be able to get out!
Upon finally reaching this room, The Champagne Bar, I asked a member of staff about my reservation, and I was shown to The Garden Suite and asked to choose a table.
The booking was 2pm and I didn't expect to be stepping over the housekeeper's vacuum along the way or indeed having to listen to it whirring for a while (as you can see from this image)
I chose the table set for two to the left of this photo. although did feel it a bit small. I sat and waited for my friend to arrive. The waiter did ask if I wanted a drink whilst I was waiting, so I ordered one and it arrived quickly.
My friend arrived shortly after and we perused the menu and looked at the tea menu on offer too.
We sat for 30 mins waiting for someone to come over to us before we had to go and find a member of staff ourselves. Again, very disappointing.
Out tea order was taken, although no apology was forthcoming about our wait.
I chose the British Mint & Caramel as I had had this one before and knew I liked it. My friend chose the Mottram 1940.
When the tea arrived, the waiter spilt the tea from the teapots onto the table cloth and also from the milk jug ..... not a great start!
I noticed that my friend's teapot had not been cleaned properly from the previous time it was used and the cups were also stained inside. No china teacups in sight either, which is a huge disappointment for me. If you are serving good quality leaf tea, why serve it in bland (and stained) porcelain cups, it really is below par.
We also had to ask for sugar and tea strainers to be brought - again, not up to scratch from a service point of view.
The Afternoon Tea stand then arrived and we had such a small table that we had no room to put this on there. The waiter looked around the room and decided to bring a chest/trunk item over and rested the stand on that, as an extension to our table. It helped but it wasn't ideal.
The outer sandwiches were dry and a bit crispy, which meant they had been sitting out beforehand. Once again, it was substandard and not what you'd expect.
My friend and I both agreed that the salmon sandwich had the best flavour of them all and was the most tasty.
We finished the sandwiches and moved onto the small cakes.
The macaroons were lovely, light and not too chewy. There was no gold leaf on the chocolate honeycomb bars, not living up to the description and the meringues on the lemon tarts could have chipped a tooth they were that hard..... and no sign of any raspberry as described - I looked everywhere!
The caramel doughnuts were good at least.
During our time eating the sandwiches and cakes, we were not approached by any member of staff to enquire as to our satisfaction, again, a very mediocre customer service displayed.
Moving on to the scones - the very small scones. They were in fact very nice but two bites and they were gone. There was no choice of jam available, so if you didn't like raspberry, hard luck!
At this point we had drunk our tea and were looking for a replacement but once again had to go and find a member of staff.
The empty teapots were collected and a new one brought (we both opted for the Imperial Earl Grey) and this time they did bring clean tea strainers and replacements cups.
We did have a nice view of the garden terrace (below)
The Afternoon Tea at Mottram Hall was £23 per head.
In my opinion it fell short of this price tag by a country mile. The welcome was poor, the service was poor, the food was mediocre and the atmosphere was non-existent. No background music to create an ambiance of any kind. I have paid a lot less and received far more elsewhere.
Would I return - sadly not, nor would I recommend this to anyone else.
With a building as impressive as this and a price tag as hefty, I expected far more than I received and they certainly need to up their game to deliver the standards expected of a typically British past time. Having a nice building isn't enough, you need the experience to compliment it and this was well short.
If I had to give a mark out of 10 it would receive - 4/10