Words by Selina Julien
The most spectacular sunset appears just on cue as we arrive at the top of the hill, allowing the sweeping vistas of Bath’s infamous Royal Crescent to be bathed with warm golden hues. It’s certainly a sight to behold.
Nestled in the centre, The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa ticks all the boxes for a discreet five-star establishment. Its unimposing entrance is loyally manned by welcoming doorman Martin, who quickly engages in conversation. Once establishing that it’s our first visit to the hotel, and indeed to Bath, he doesn’t hesitate to offer advice on the best position for a photo. Unsurprisingly, his picture with the glorious Georgian architecture behind us was the best of the entire visit.
The short meandering walk through the hotel’s pretty courtyard, beautifully lit with fairy lights, gives guests – especially first-timers like ourselves – the wow factor even before stepping inside its resident restaurant, The Dower House.
Attentive waiters warmly greeted and guided us to our table as we were presented with the choice of afternoon tea with or without a glass of Tattinger Champagne. Sipsmith Gin, Reyka Icelandic Vodka or Plantation Rum can also be ordered instead of the Champagne if spirits are more appealing in the winter climes.
Either way, tea-lovers will be spoilt for choice with the extensive selection of 14 Ronnefeldft Teas. Alongside the classic English breakfast, there’s a smoked China black tea, Golden Assam, and Rooibos cream orange – a flavoured herbal infusion from South Africa – just to name a few.
The Dower House exudes a wonderfully relaxed ambience with soothing accents of grey and cornflour blue, an excellent contrast against the crisp white tablecloths that adorn each table. A striking bust sits proudly against the traditional 18th century window which offers great views of the secluded gardens.
The Royal Crescent Classic tea (there’s also a vegetarian version) appears with several silver tiers all vying for attention. The finger sandwiches include smoked salmon served traditionally with cream cheese, Clarence Court egg mustard cress, coronation corn-fed chicken and thick slices of roast beef with lashings of horseradish. It’s all very moreish with hearty fillings, and the roast beef was particularly delightful.
The favourite tier for both my plus one and I was the freshly-baked scones served with a delicious dollop of Devon clotted cream and strawberry preserve. The Bath buns are replaced with Stollen buns – flavourful sweet German buns – infused with spices and fruits and a little surprise nugget of marzipan in the middle.
However, perhaps the most visually enticing tier was the beautiful selection of seasonal-changing cakes and pastries. Kudos to the head pastry chef Mikey Topp and his team for creating not only miniature wonders of art, but also mouthfuls of magic with delicate flavours. Expect an assortment throughout the year and exceptional treats during the festive season, such as the likes of the mulled wine macaroons and the cranberry mousse with a mincemeat frangipane tart, which were tasty mini mince pies elevated with a zesty twist.
In a nutshell
Afternoon Tea at The Dower House is a decadent treat for all seasons with excellent service and a relaxed ambience, which makes it a firm favourite amongst returning patrons and newcomers alike.
The Afternoon Tea Menu is served daily between 1.30pm and 4.30pm. Priced £39.50 per person, £53 with a glass of Champagne, or £68 with a flight of Champagne.
Address: The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1 2LS
Phone: +44 (0) 1225 823333