Cost – £35.00 per person. Plus 10% (£3.50), service charge, added automatically (Dec 2022)
Parking and Access – There is parking at The Fellows House, but it costs £24!! There is some limited parking available in nearby streets, but you need to check the signs, as much of it is resident’s parking, or is metered during some hours of the day. Parking can be difficult in Cambridge! There are bus stops nearby.
The entrance to the hotel is on the level, through rotating doors. Afternoon Tea is served either in the Sage cafe area or the lobby area, both right by the main entrance.
There are toilets available nearby, which are also accessible on the flat.
Background – The Fellows House is a new aparthotel owned by Hilton. It is now our nearest Afternoon Tea venue to home! When we spotted the hotel advertising a Festive Afternoon Tea, we decided we should book and try it out.
Contents per person – A plate containing a small cup of pea soup, two mushroom arancini and a small piece of beetroot salmon gravelax. Three rectangular sandwiches (smoked salmon with cream cheese, ham and mustard and coronation chicken). Three tiny scones (one plain, one goji berries and one dark choc chip), a mini pot of Tiptree strawberry jam and a mini pot of Tiptree marmalade and a pot of clotted cream. A small square of chocolate opera cake, a macaroon, a small square of carrot cake, a mini pecan tart and a small cup containing passionfruit and orange panna cotta. Pot of tea.
Options Available – There was also a vegan option available for this Afternoon Tea.
Comments – On arrival we were asked to choose where we were going to have our Afternoon Tea. The small Sage Café was full with people working on their laptops, and didn’t look particularly relaxing, so we chose to sit on the comfy chairs in the lobby area.
This area is between the main entrance and the reception desk, so it did feel a bit like being in an entrance hall, but the chairs were comfortable and there was a large Christmas tree to give a more festive feel.
There was also a great piece of Cambridge artwork on the wall next to our low table. It was made from bits of bicycles!
We were asked straight away which type of drink we would like, but were not given the options. We chose a standard English Breakfast type tea.
The tea arrived fairly quickly in two glass teapots, with the loose tealeaves in a cage in the centre of the pot. The milk was in a small pottery milk jug with no handle. We were also given an insulated glass cup to drink the tea from.
The tea was desperately strong for me. So, after one cupful, I asked for a cold drink instead. I had a small bottle of Bottlegreen Apple Presse. This was added to the bill at the end (£3.50 plus 10%!!). My companion went for a cup of coffee in place of the awful tea. This was not added on.
The insulated cups were incredibly hard to drink from. The lip was far to thick. As a result, it was almost impossible to drink without it pouring down your chin and on to your clothes! I ended up drinking the one cupful I had, with a napkin held underneath. We both disliked both the tea and the silly cups!
The first part of the tea to arrive was a glass plate for each of us, containing three savoury items. These were a mini cup of pea soup, a small piece of gravlax and two arancini balls. The soup and the piece of salmon were good, but the mushroom arancini were really delicious.
Once we had finished the plate of savoury bits, the rest of the Tea was brought out on two round cake stands with three flat black layers on each, containing the food.
The sandwiches were a reasonable size and were well filled and fresh. The fact that there were only three each was offset by the savoury plate we had already eaten. We had requested our ham sandwiches without mustard, in advance, and these were as we had asked for them.
The scones were tiny and had not been warmed up. They were so small that it was difficult to cut them in half. Especially the plain scone.
The types of scone we were served did not match the advertising, but this did not bother us as they were similar. All of the scones were a bit hard, as though they were a bit overdone.
We had each been given a jar of strawberry jam and a jar of marmalade. It seemed an odd choice. I don’t like marmalade, so we asked to swap the marmalade for a second jam each. The man we asked said he would have to go and see if there was any more available!!! This was odd, given it is a large hotel, with a restaurant and a café! Anyway, it seems he found some, and we were each given a second jam and the marmalade was taken away.
There was a scoop of clotted cream, in a small dish, for each of us. This didn’t look much, but as the scones were so small, there was just about enough.
None of the cakes were very large. We would have much preferred to have been given larger pieces of fewer cakes. The macaroons were fresh, but different on each cake stand, which makes me think they had been bought in, rather than made on site. However, the panna cotta was extremely tasty. I could have happily eaten a bowl of that!
Service was a bit average at best. We had to wait for someone to come past the lobby to get anything. When we wanted to ask about the jam, my companion went off into the Sage café to try to find someone. However, there was no one in there either!
One irritation was the music. Where we were sitting, we were getting a mix of Christmas carols from one area, and pop music from somewhere else. Given that this was the lobby for the hotel, I would expect the music to be sorted so that it invited you into the hotel. Not a confusing mix of different sounds like we experienced.
We both felt the Afternoon Tea was expensive. Cambridge is an expensive city. However, this was pricey, but was not special or different enough for the price being charged. Also, if I am being automatically charged an extra 10% for service, I expect to receive good service.
Whilst there was nothing wrong with the food, the most noticeable thing was the complete lack of any attempt to make it even vaguely festive! This was a Festive Afternoon Tea in December after all!! Not one item was Christmassy. And it would have been so easy to do. It was a bit disappointing.
All opinions expressed in this review are my own. The photographs are all my own.
I remain completely anonymous and always pay for my Afternoon Teas. They are never gifted to me by the businesses reviewed.
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