Afternoon Tea at The Merchant Hotel


Apparently jeans are discouraged.. oops! Well they still served us.

I’m sure my face was quite a sight when the lady in her little blue uniform carried towards us this beautiful tower of treats. Everything so was perfect and miniature, I was scared to touch anything when it arrived in front of me. Oh and the smell! The little scones were freshly baked and their warm, butter, vanilla scent  soon made me very hungry…

We finally made it here, my Mum and I, after she promised some time ago to take me out to Afternoon Tea to celebrate my birthday, her birthday and also my exam results. For many years we have meant to share it together whilst in London or elsewhere, but sadly it never happened. So now, in this magnificent setting of the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, it felt very special indeed. Not least because this building holds special significance as in fact my Dad used to work here when it was still a bank, and before it became this famous hotel. My mum remembers taking me here many times as a small baby to visit Dad, and so coming here when I am now very nearly 17 must be a strange feeling for her!

The outside of the building has a large grand staircase, before you enter into the moving doors and arrive in the enormous Great Room. The grandeur and decoration everywhere is breathtaking and makes for quite an entrance. It also felt very exciting to be here, as just under a year ago, I spent over 4 hours queuing and patiently waiting outside, opposite the main entrance to catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber arriving at the hotel, back when the MTV EMA’s were being held in Belfast.

I was also on a little high after such a successful and exciting first day at my new school. Thank you all so much for your kind words of support! I was surprisingly more confident than I anticipated and quickly said many ‘Hello’s’ and got acquainted with as many people as I could. By lunchtime I already felt part of things, and soon realised that everyone else was as nervous and apprehensive as me on their first day of term. I now look forward to starting my first proper week and really getting into the swing of things.

This delightful looking dessert above, I believe, was an Apple and Cinnamon Charlotte, although all I was worried about was the gorgeous rich chocolate centre. Oh and the other beautiful mousse in a small little glass was an Orange Blossom Jelly and Peach Coconut Mousse shot glass. It was delicious! We were also served a pretty little raspberry macaron (which I really was not too impressed with as the inside was far too sticky and fell apart!) and a tiny little Mixed berry Tartlet which really was delicious! And as for the scones.. Well you should know that I am a huge fan of scones, and so of course these went down a treat. Enough said.

Having never really tried proper pastries before, or anything of this kind anyway, I was blown away by how you could incorporate so many different flavours, textures and processes into one small bite. The aroma of the Orange Blossom Jelly really was incredible, and me and mum spent ages trying to figure out what it was.. (we thought Jasmine, obviously a little off on our tasting skills!) I had always been fascinated by the pastries and desserts of France, and yet this shows that they are also right on my doorstep. I have vowed to find out how to make these little desserts one day, they are just incredible! However, as mentioned above, the macaron left a little to be desired. It was pretty much hollow, and one whole shell side came off, leaving a gaping, overly sticky hole, with all of the filling attached to the other side. I passed this one to mum, who didn’t mind the praline filling. This made me very much proud of my own macaron attempts.. It wasn’t even smooth on top! (Oh and apologies for the sticky plate!)

However, all in all, I loved this little outing and it was an experience I will treasure for many years to come I’m sure. Once back at school and work we would rarely have time to do things like this together, with a younger sister and another brother to look after too, my mum is a busy lady! After a quick visit to the equally gorgeous Ladies’ Restroom, of course, we were off for a spot of shopping! A day well spent.

A x