On my very first evening in Edinburgh, I booked into a very fancy afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel for 17:00.Getting there was no problem at all, since I was staying at the Hilton on the North Bridge and from my 5th floor room the view is literally of the Balmoral Hotel. So it was just a few steps away for me!
Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court, Balmoral Hotel
I knew that I wanted to enjoy an afternoon tea while in Scotland, and by all accounts, the one at the Balmoral Hotel is one of the best, so that’s what I booked. Afternoon tea is offered daily from 12p-5p and it’s easy to make the booking on their website. The Palm Court itself is gorgeous, with high ceilings and an elegant tropical feeling.
My tea choice was the Royal Scottish Balmoral Blend (sounded good), which they describe as a blend of Assam and Ceylon. I know absolutely nothing about tea, but it was nice. I also added milk and a little sugar with a shrug…. I just put everything in there! It’s fine. This four-course afternoon tea began with an amuse bouche which was a little carrot pistachio soup. Quite nice!
The next course was the savory sandwiches, which were delivered on a gorgeous tea stack. I have never felt more fancy! On the top, we have a haggis tart with a spot of whisky sauce, and what I believe was a quiche tart with a bit of wasabi. Since I had been in Ediburgh only hours, I had not yet tried haggis, and this was my first taste. I loved it from the start! And I was lucky enough to eat haggis any chance I got for the rest of the week.
On the next level was an egg salad bun and a cucumber sandwich. Both adorable and refreshing. I have never felt so dainty, munching on a cucumber sandwich. Oh my.
And on the bottom level there were three sandwiches: a coronation chicken salad, ham & tomato, and a smoked salmon. This was also my first time trying smoked salmon and I was pleasantly surprised at how “fishy” it is. I guess I was expecting a milder flavor, but wow!
With all this tiered extravagance, I forgot that there were more courses coming! Next was the scones, and I believe this to be the height of the whole experience. These scones were incredible. Still warm, dense yet fluffy. The clotted cream served with it was pretty much heaven, and the jam spread smoothly without getting lumped up like some I had elsewhere. I was served two scones: a plain and one with fruit, which I learned means raisins.
I was sad to see those scones go, and I was getting really full, but I couldn’t wait to see the dessert course. I was served a selection of 3 little pastries: a chocolate, a peanut butter, and a rustic fruit cake. My favorite was the peanut butter, but they were all magnificent. This “afternoon tea” is serious business. I can’t imagine how this would be considered a snack to get you through until dinner. There was no way I’d be eating for the rest of the night.
And lastly, I was sent off with the cutest little mango sorbet cone you could imagine, along with a couple of little gifts: a tiny souvenir tin containing a serving of tea leaves, and a small box of two gorgous bon bons. What regal treatment!
I highly recommend this unique experience when you’re in Edinburgh. This was such fun to be treated so elegantly, and to try several new things I’d never had before. For me, since I was alone this experience took 1 hour, but if you’re with others it can take as much as 1.5-2 hours.