I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of afternoon tea. My lust for savoury food is far stronger than my sweet tooth, and I am really not all that bothered about cake – especially not the dense, spongy kind found on so many afternoon tea stands across the country. Sorry Mary Berry!
So there I was, thinking that afternoon tea was one of life’s little luxuries that I just wasn’t that into, but then everything changed.
I tried the festive afternoon tea from The Angel Hotel & Restaurant in Abergavenny.
It all started with a sunny 45 minute train journey from Cardiff Central Station, and on the day I made the trip, the weather couldn’t have been better for a scenic train ride through the Welsh countryside. From Abergavenny train station it’s just a 10 minute walk to the Angel Hotel, where the warmest of welcomes was waiting for me.
Check in was quick and painless, so I went straight up to my room to explore my home-from-home for the night. My suite was huge, with big sash windows to let in loads of light, a huge comfy bed and a modern bathroom with a big double shower. Lush.
No sooner had I thrown off my shoes and spread myself out on the bed with the intention of getting a few emails done, there was a knock at the door. A delivery of hot, strong mulled wine, and a couple of still-warm, homemade mince pies (which were also suitably boozy) greeted me. Ah, if only every Monday afternoon could play out this way!
Having scoffed the pies and necked the wine in what must be record-breaking time, I cracked on with my emails until 4pm, and then it was time to head downstairs for the aforementioned afternoon tea.
I was joined on this trip by a host of other South Wales bloggers and journalists, so to keep things private for us, our afternoon tea was served in the hotel’s wine cellar, but usually it is served upstairs in the Foxhunter bar. The original brickwork, curved ceiling and festive decorations made the room feel so cosy – it would be the perfect location for a private dinner party.
After much anticipation, a procession of cake stands piled high with treats began filing in, and were met with a chorus of ooh-ing and aah-ing from our team of intrepid gluttons!
On the bottom tier, a selection of dainty sandwiches included local smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, mixed cheese and turkey with stuffing & cranberry.
The middle tier offered a selection of cakes – mince pies, christmas cake, custard slices, raspberry towers, strawberry & white chocolate baked cheesecake and a chocolate roulade. The best news? Not a slab of boring, dense sponge in sight.
The winner, was the top tier of ‘posh party food’ as I like to call it – prunes wrapped in bacon, ham & onion quiche, beef & mushroom choux buns, pea, ham & mint spring rolls, coronation chicken tartlets, salmon mousse cups with gherkins and a ricotta, feta & pine nut samosa. Finally, an afternoon tea fit for a savoury-fiend like me!
We washed down our treats with a couple of glasses of chilled champagne, and I chose a delicate Earl Grey tea, served black. Even though we were almost fit to bursting, we were also presented with a warm, freshly baked scone each (served with jam and clotted cream of course) and a miniature sherry trifle topped with toasted, flaked almonds. I managed a few mouthfuls of both before I was utterly defeated, but the good news is that the staff at The Angel will happily box up anything you can’t finish and let you take it away with you.
Suitably stuffed and a little tipsy, we headed back to our rooms for a bit of R&R. I took the opportunity to veg out in front of my flat screen TV for a bit, whilst some of the other girls went for a long soak in the bath. Really, I should have taken myself for a hard uphill run and a few hundred sit ups, as at 9pm we were due to start eating again – this time in the Angel’s ‘Apres Ski Bar‘ in the hotel courtyard.
You can see the hut in all its glory in our festive mannequin challenge!
The bar has been thoughtfully decked out to resemble a cosy alpine-ski-lodge, and was created especially for the Christmas party season. It’s bookable every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December and January – but if you’re going to pay them a visit, make sure it’s on a Thursday.
On Thursday nights only, the hut offers an special menu of authentic alpine delicacies. Priced at £35pp this includes:
- Viande séchée (air dried beef, with cornichons and onions)
- Boozy cheese fondue served with crusty bread & new potatoes
- Swiss apple tart with cream
- Plus an aperitif on arrival and a coffee or tea to finish
In the interests of research, we had to sample the lot!
It’s safe to say our whole party loved the Apres Ski Bar – I love doing something a bit different and think it’s great when people go all out with a theme, which these guys definitely have. A three course feast in the cosy confines of the hut is a great way to spend an alternative evening with friends and I could easily have stayed until my vision got blurry, but sadly, as I had to be up at 6.30am to catch the train back to Cardiff, I called it a night soon after dessert.
As you can probably tell, since returning from my stay at The Angel I haven’t stopped raving about it; it really is that lovely. I was blown away by the attention to detail shown throughout my stay, and as a bonus for nature-lovers like me, I’m told the hotel makes the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Brecon Beacons – something I sadly didn’t have time to try on this occasion.
I can’t wait to go back soon to find out for myself.
The Angel Hotel is a member of the prestigious UK Tea Guild, having previously held an ‘Award of Excellence’ since 2008. Only nine hotels outside of London have achieved this, and in 2011 the Angel Hotel were proud recipients of The Tea Guild’s top national award, the Oscar of the tea world. Afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel is priced at £27.80pp.
Apres Ski at the Angel Hotel is available throughout December and January. See here for more info.
Double rooms (B&B) at The Angel Hotel start from £85.