As British expats we simply adore afternoon tea, a quintessentially English tradition that has spread from the drawing rooms of 19th century aristocratic society and into the lobbies of five star hotels worldwide. For us, afternoon tea represents a pleasant reminder of home and though the stereotype would indicate that us Brits sit down each afternoon to indulge in the customary tea and scones, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’ve probably had as many afternoon teas in the UAE as the amount of years that we’ve lived here (4). As Brits we love to complain (unfortunately it’s in our nature) and the problem perhaps lies in the fact that the quality can be so hit and miss, that often it’s not worth the risk of being disappointed.
With Mothers Day fast approaching, we excepted an invitation to sample the newly launched afternoon tea at Hyatt Capital Gate, a property that we’re very familiar with and have enjoyed on each visit. Located close to ADNEC, Hyatt Capital Gate is predominantly a business hotel but one that has a huge advantage as being one of the most recognisable landmarks in Abu Dhabi. Taking on the appearance of a cobra ready to strike, this five star hotel has been purposely built as the world’s further leaning tower, with an incline of 18 degrees westward. It’s an architectural marvel and one that’s become as much a symbol of Abu Dhabi as the Emirates Palace or Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Hyatt Capital Gate is predominantly regarded as a business hotel but the team have cleverly positioned the property as a tourist attraction and though the food and beverage options may not be as vast as some of their competitors, there’s a strong reliance on quality over quantity. With afternoon tea being held in The Lounge, a cosy space of high backed arm chairs that despite being located off the main reception, feels more like an intimate library than a juncture of the hotel lobby.
Being on the 18th floor certainly helps and the lean of the hotel provides guests with remarkable views of the traffic whizzing along Khalij Al Arabi Street, heading downtown towards the glittering towers on the corniche. Our previous visits to The Lounge have been for the Wednesday wine and cheese nights (one of the most reasonably priced in Abu Dhabi) but the space is altogether different in daylight.
This afternoon tea is relaxed and refined and begins with a wooden presentation box that’s home to a variety of teas. Each selection of leaves is contained within a small glass jar and we suggest you take a moment to indulge in the aroma of each product before making your choice. The selection includes Floral Jasmine, Imperial Earl Grey, Traditional English Breakfast, Organic Peppermint, Chamomile and Masala Black Tea (to name just a few), plus the options of coffee or hot chocolate. What we appreciated most was that not only are the beverages unlimited but you can switch to a different blend without incurring any extra expense. It’s an all to common problem at afternoon teas in Abu Dhabi to be limited to one blend, or worse still one cup, before incurring a surcharge. It’s refreshing to see that Hyatt are less concerned about money saving techniques and more about the customer experience.
Our last afternoon tea experience in an off-island hotel that we won’t name, involved not only dry cakes and rock hard scones but the practice of refilling our already infused teapot with fresh water rather than adding new tea leaves in a bizarre cost cutting measure. Thankfully none of these problems plague the offering at Hyatt Capital Gate and though the afternoon tea is not strictly traditional, it’s an innovative take on the concept that we throughly enjoyed.
The bottom layer of a three tiered stand is home to the finger sandwiches but even these are not as you would necessarily expect. A staple of afternoon tea, the cucumber sandwich comes on a sun-dried tomato bread, while the chicken and pesto is presented to look more like a Swiss roll. Traditionalism creeps in with the smoked salmon and lemon crème fraiche sandwich and it was the pumpkin and goats cheese that was our favourite.
Moving up a level we arrive at the scones, a make or break factor for us when it comes to afternoon tea. Impressively the scones here are made a la minute, meaning they’re freshly baked and arrive warm to the table. The scones come in two varieties (plain and raisin) and are up there with the very best, buttery and soft without being too crumbly. Served with clotted cream, a selection of jams and lemon curd, you’re free to order as many as you can manage, with the condiments replenished as often as the tea.
The final tier contains a delightfully moist carrot cake with a light frosting and a chocolate mud cake that is richer and denser in nature. Yet that’s not all! An additional plate creeps onto the table and contains rose and lavender macaroons, mini fruit tarts and chocolate covered caramels. Aside from the scones, these were our favourite items of the day with the macaroons tasting like Turkish Delight and the chocolate lollipops oozing a liquified caramel as soon as they’re bitten.
We don’t know what it is with afternoon teas and celebrity guests! On our previous visit to Etihad Towers we had the pleasure of running into Hollywood movie star Tyrese Gibson. Here at the Hyatt Capital Gate we were sat on a table next to Denis O’Hare, star of some of favourite television shows (The Good Wife, American Horror Story, True Blood). Coincidence perhaps but one that leaves us asking “who will we bump into next?”
We believe you should give serious consideration to the afternoon tea at the Hyatt Capital Gate this coming mothers day. The quality of the food and service combined with the impressive view make this a memorable experience but one that is likely to be popular so we suggest you get your bookings in fast.
Visit late in the afternoon and The Lounge becomes a wonderful spot to take in the sunset. Move out onto the terrace and make a night of it with shisha and sundowners or if you’re still a bit peckish (unlikely) there’s always the Mediterranean charms of 18 Degrees.
The Afternoona Tea at Hyatt Capital Gate is offered daily from 1pm – 6pm:
– Classic Afternoon Tea AED 99 per person
– Sparkling Afternoon Tea AED 125 per person
Location: Hyatt Capital Gate, Level 18, Embassies District, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 7am – 1am
Phone: 02 596 1234
We were invited to dine at The Lounge. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. One photo used courtesy of Hyatt Capital Gate.