Hyatt Regency Festive Afternoon Tea - 3 stars out of 5
As some of you may know, I’m slightly obsessed with cakes, and not just any old cake, I like the good stuff, the homemade stuff. That’s the reason why I created Togri Bakery so everyone can have access to handmade cakes rather than the dreary supermarket dross. This obsession has fuelled my desire for trying out afternoon teas as it’s nice to have cake made by someone else for a change. Also, afternoon teas make excellent gifts for loved ones. I always treat my parents to afternoon tea for birthdays and so on and they love it.
Seeing as Christmas is upon us and Togri Bakery reached its first year anniversary we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate with an afternoon tea. I discovered that the Hyatt Regency were offering a festive afternoon tea and seeing as we hadn’t taken tea there for a few years we thought it would be an excellent destination. The Hyatt Regency is situated across the road from Centenary Square so it had the added appeal of being very close to the German Christmas Market.
We booked the festive afternoon tea at the Hyatt Regency for 4pm so to allow us plenty of time beforehand to have a mooch around the craft market in Centenary Square and the German Market in Victoria Square. I recommend you book by phone as it took the Hyatt Regency three days to return my email by which time I phoned up and booked it that way. So, I had to email them back to make sure I wasn’t double booked. I hate to be the cause of food waste! So, that was a bit of a faff to begin with.
The Hyatt Regency, as I mentioned above, is on Broad Street next to Centenary Square and is a lovely tall building clad in black, mirrored glass and dominates the area. Parking is really limited at the hotel, and with the library redevelopment at Paradise Circus I recommend you don’t even try to drive to the hotel due to traffic restrictions. We parked at Paradise Circus Car Park, which is council operated, and is on Cambridge Street just behind the new Library on Centenary Square. So, it’s a very convenient location and a short flat walk to the Hyatt Regency. Just be sure to bring lots of coins with you as the ticket machines don’t accept notes nor do they give change. If you prefer to use public transport then the hotel is well served by buses seeing as it’s on Broad Street, however if you choose to arrive by train then you will have a long walk ahead of you as the new trams haven’t quite reached Centenary Square just yet.
Before we took afternoon tea, we spent a few hours browsing the market stalls and taking in the festive atmosphere. With it being a weekday afternoon the markets were nice and quiet. Perfect for shopping and eating a cheeky hotdog, which wasn’t wise as later on we were struggling to finish our afternoon tea. But those food stalls are just too hard to resist.
After all that walking we were glad to get out of the cold and to rest our weary feet. Inside the Hyatt Regency we walked into a very grand lobby with tall pillars and marble floors. The Aria Restaurant is just behind the lobby and is very spacious, with a glass roof and trees growing inside. The atmosphere was very calm, hushed and genteel. A big part of what makes an afternoon tea special is the environment you take it in, and the Aria Restaurant certainly makes you feel special just by being in there.
We waited to be seen to, which took a while as it was a few minutes before anyone noticed we were standing there. Then our waitress seemed a bit unprepared for us as there was a small delay finding the correct menus and finding an appropriate table. This worried me slightly, but I needn’t have done so as everything went smoothly after that.
Our friendly and helpful waitress took our coats for us, always a nice touch, and seated us next to a grand water feature underneath the imposing glass ceiling. Even though the Aria Restaurant is vast and we were the only diners at the time, the décor and layout was very cosy and comfortable and we all felt very relaxed dining there.
The festive afternoon tea at the Hyatt Regency costs £19.95 and is therefore one of the cheaper options in the city with both The Park Regis and Hotel La Tour charging £24.95 and The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel charging £22.
One of the first things we noticed was the lack of choice with the tea menu. We had a choice of three black teas, two green teas and a few herbal teas. My mom and I chose the Assam and my dad opted for a peppermint tea. They promptly arrived in some smart teapots with integrated tea strainers. As to be expected, the tea was loose leaf and of a good quality as my Assam didn’t require milk to take away any bitterness. We were both really taken with the teapots, so much so I had a cheeky look on the internet to see how much they were and my mom actually ordered one that very evening. Weird I know, but that’s how we roll. For your information, the teapot is made by ForLife and it’s very practical and a good pourer.
Anyway, back on topic, our waitress was really sweet and enthusiastic and spent a good amount of time chatting to us whilst we were waiting for our food to be prepared. I could tell she genuinely enjoyed her job, and she tried hard to give us a good afternoon tea experience.
We were brought our food on tiered plates and it was all explained to us. It is quite often the case that you are left to figure out what the food is for yourselves, but that wasn’t the case on this occasion and we appreciated the information.
The sandwiches were cut into diagonal quarters and we were treated to brie and sweet onion compote, cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill mustard, roast turkey breast and cranberry compote and beef and horseradish sauce. The quality wasn’t the best we have had, and the bread was a tad stale, but it was perfectly acceptable and tasty nonetheless. Also, they didn’t put too much salmon on the sandwich, which can make it a bit slimy in my opinion.
We had two scones each, a plain one and a fruit one with the fruit scone being orange and cranberry. I didn’t really notice the fruit scone was any different to a normal fruit scone to be honest. The scones were tasty and fluffy but a tad on the dry side. We had a choice of strawberry and raspberry jam along with clotted cream. Which reminds me, we had no spoons for the jam and cream and we had to ask for plates for the sandwiches. This compounded the lack of preparation we encountered earlier.
The cakes included a slice of Christmas cake, a petit buche de Noel (Christmas log), cranberry macaroon, blackberry and mandarin smoothie and a shortbread Christmas tree. The Christmas cake was fine as cakes go, but my standards regarding cakes are quite high and to me the cake was like a shop bought Christmas cake. Basically it was dry, lacked flavour (and booze), was mean with marzipan and icing and the icing was also quite tough. Not like the Togri Bakery Christmas Cake, which is moist and boozy and very delicious. The chocolate log looked suspiciously like a Cadbury’s mini roll until I picked it up and it was obviously not. It was handmade, moist and sticky with a gooey chocolate fudge frosting and a cherry liqueur drizzle in the sponge. It was amazing and by far my favourite cake that day. Delicious. The cranberry macaroon was tiny and tasted of almonds rather than cranberry. Which reinforces my view that all flavoured macaroons just taste of almonds. I don’t understand the fuss about macaroons. The blackberry and mandarin smoothie was fruity and tasty and an interesting addition to the sweet treats. We have never had a smoothie at an afternoon tea so that was novel. The all butter shortbread Christmas tree was perfectly executed and delicious.
The whole festive afternoon tea experience at the Hyatt Regency Hotel was good and represented good value of money. It is cheaper than other afternoon teas in Birmingham and in places it showed such as a lack of an amuse bouche, a small range of teas, lower quality sandwiches, some excellent cakes with some mediocre cakes, and the attention to detail fell short at times. However, it was an acceptable afternoon tea experience with very friendly and helpful staff in a luxurious setting.
We give the Hyatt Regency Hotel 3 stars out of 5