Cost – £35.00 for two people (Aug 2019) using a voucher from Travelzoo. Normal price is £29.50 per person.
Parking and Access – There is no parking at the hotel. However, there is a carpark nearby at Cambridge railway station and also some metered on-street parking in the vicinity. Be aware that parking is not cheap in Cambridge. There are toilets near to the entrance to the hotel, accessible on the flat. The room where Afternoon Tea is served is next to the entrance and is accessible on the flat.
Background – The Tamburlaine Hotel is a big new hotel on Station Road near to Cambridge railway station. We had had their Afternoon Tea on our list for sometime but had been putting it off due to the price. However, we then spotted Travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com) were selling vouchers for Afternoon Tea at the Tamburlaine for £35 for two people. This made it a much more realist proposition, so we purchased a voucher and booked our Tea.
Contents – 4 rectangular sandwiches (smoked salmon and cream cheese, ham and mustard, cucumber and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise). Two small medium scones (one fruit and one plain), a mini Tiptree pot of strawberry jam, a mini jam jar of lemon curd and a mini jam jar of cream. A macaroon, a chocolate truffle, a small cube of carrot cake, a mini banana sponge, a square of chocolate cheesecake and a pot of jelly with basil panna cotta. Pot of tea from a large choice.
Options Available – This Tea is also available with either Prosecco or Champagne.
Comments – On arrival at the hotel, we had to wait around in the lobby until someone appeared to take our names and show us to a table. We were offered a table right by the door but asked to move a bit further in. We were then given a table by the window. We were asked if we would like some water. We asked for some tap water and were given a carafe of chilled water without glasses. We had to ask for glasses as well!
The waiter then brought us a tea menu in a wooden container with pots of tea to look at and choose a tea from.
The table was laid with pretty pink and white china with Tamburlaine written across the middle, linen napkins and a cake knife and fork and a spoon.
Some tables had a large tiered cake stand next to them. However, ours did not. The chairs were a bit varied. The green chairs were big and comfy, whilst the pink chairs were rather snug!! There were also some basket type chairs with seat cushions.
A few minutes later we were asked which tea we would like to drink with our Afternoon Tea. We chose one pot of English Breakfast tea and one pot of hibiscus and raspberry tea.
We then waited.
The tea took over half an hour to arrive!! In that time the waiters were only in the room very occasionally, so it was difficult to ask what had happened. Eventually it arrived (with a brief apology) in two brass and glass teapots with integral strainers. Then we had to wait for some milk to arrive separately for the English breakfast tea!
The tea was of a good strength and was made with loose tea leaves. We were offered refills but only asked for the English breakfast tea to be refilled. The fruit tea was refreshing and pleasant.
The Afternoon Tea took even longer to arrive. Again, the staff were conspicuous by their absence. We were about to query it when if finally arrived.
We were brought three round plates. One containing the sandwiches, one the scones, jams and cream and a final, larger plate containing the cakes and desserts.
I had to ask the waitress that brought the sandwiches what the fillings were. At no time had we been asked about allergies or dislikes and the fillings were not listed anywhere. The sandwiches etc were just put on the table. As frequent readers will know, we are not keen on mustard. Mustard is one of the fourteen main allergens. However, luckily, we do not have an allergy, just a dislike. The sandwiches included a ham and mustard one. I asked if we could have ours without mustard. The waitress immediately took the whole plateful back again! Luckily, she returned quite quickly with a set of sandwiches without mustard. Sadly, we never saw this efficient waitress again.
The sandwiches were made with a mix of brown and white breads. Unfortunately, the bread, especially the brown, was rather dried out. The ham appeared to be from a packet and the cucumber was the thinnest I have ever seen. I like my cucumber thin but this was barely visible! The sandwiches were not particularly well filled apart from the ham.
The scones were small medium in size and had been warmed up. They had been slightly overcooked and were a little dry as a result. The fruit scones had exactly two raisins each, both on the very bottom of the scones!
There was barely enough jam for us to spread on one scone each. So, we had jam and cream on the fruit scone and lemon curd on the plain one. The lemon curd was delicious.
There was also only enough cream for one scone each. The cream had been put into a mini jam jar that was the same size as the Tiptree jar. It was very runny. The menu described it as Devonshire clotted cream but I have never seen such runny, white clotted cream. It is usually fairly thick and is more creamy in colour. This cream, which we poured out of the pot, looked more like double cream.
We started the cake part with the macaroons. We had non-matching macaroons but neither seemed to have any particular flavour. They were chewy, however. The chocolate truffle was very nice. I could have eaten more of those! The carrot cake was moist and tasty but I wasn’t too keen on the little banana sponge. The chocolate cheesecake was tasty with a slightly gingery base. However, whoever thought basil was a good flavour for a panna cotta??? Normally this would be a favourite for me. Luckily, I hadn’t left it until last! It was really not nice at all. It had a slanted base layer of red jelly which was nice. However, the basil part was definitely not to our taste at all!
Service was, frankly, pretty poor. This is an expensive Afternoon Tea in a hotel that positions itself as luxurious. However, the two staff members were rarely in the room and took ages to bring anything. The waiter was efficient when he was around but kept disappearing for long periods. I would expect an efficient and discreet staff keeping an eye on customer’s progress, being available to assist when required. When we were ready to leave, we had to wait some time before anyone appeared. Then we had to actually get up to catch the waiter on our way out. The room was about half full whilst we were there.
On our way out from the hotel, we used the facilities. I must admit, I thought the toilets had been done very well, with Edwardian style fixtures and fittings.
Sadly the one thing missing was toilet roll!!