The French oddly renamed the afternoon tea tradition “tea-time”, perhaps as an excuse to take a few liberties and make it “à la française”. Let’s start by reviewing the Afternoon Tea served at Le Bristol Hotel Paris, one of the best in France:
The Bristol Hotel Paris Setting ★★★★★
Simply magnificent and located near the “Palais de l’Elysée”, The Bristol Hotel deserves its reputation of being among the best Parisian five-star hotels. Everything is tastefully decorated in the 18th-century style, for your enjoyment whether you’re having your tea at Café Antonia or simply walking around the hotel corridors.
The staff is very welcoming and will happily share a few anecdotes which may remind you of the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Remember to ask about the story behind the lift/elevator (13th picture) and to meet the “Bristol Hotel Paris resident cats, Fa-raon and Kéopâtre”, who peacefully enjoy their five-star hotel cat lives (14th picture).
I could write a whole article on the beauty of the Bristol Hotel Paris but a few good pictures are better than a thousand words :
Whether you’ll take the tea indoors in “Café Antonia” or outdoors in the courtyard/garden “Jardin français”, this tea will be perfect for guests who enjoy art, luxurious hotels and tranquillity. I strongly recommend to visit the “Jardin français” and weather permitting, to have the afternoon tea there.
Twice a year, a famous French artist contributes to the hotel’s decoration. As of now (mid-2016), it’s “Daniel Buren” who is one of the most famous conceptual artists in France. The first picture was taken last Christmas so the artist’s contribution is not visible. Back then, it was just a few discrete bronze statues.
I am a profane when it comes to conceptual art, therefore, I will refrain from commenting Buren’s work. I will let you form your own opinion from the pictures below, the colourful structure is unmissable.
Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★★
There is a generous selection of teas: black, green, white, oolong and infusions. Each guest can choose two beverages with the tea-time menu, which can then be refilled at will. An extra beverage will cost you 15€.
I especially recommend the “Sencha Yamato”, a deliciously refreshing green tea, as well as “Paris est une Fête” and the “Jardin des Poêtes”, both excellent choices. The hot chocolate is a marvel, however, I do not suggest ordering it too early, it will kill your appetite!
The “two beverages per guest” limit may be a problem thus it’s preferable that each guest orders a different beverage, as the unlimited refills will allow you to easily share it with your party.
The Savouries ★★★★★
More often than not, the savouries are merely made a few ordinary sandwiches but at the Bristol Hotel, they are original and varied: “Vegetables and Cumin Financiers”; “Veal, Rocket and Parmesan Sandwich”; “Smoked Salmon Feuilleté” & “Chicken Club Sandwich”.
My favourite was the croissant shaped “Smoked Salmon Feuilleté”, a delight for the palate.
FInd below a video detailing the afternoon tea selection (in French) which should stimulate your appetite, regardless of your mastery of the language:
The Scones, Muffins & Madeleines ★★★★★
While most afternoon teas serve scones alone, The Bristol Hotel tea-time also comes with muffins (chocolate and raisin) as well as madeleines. It’s delicious, but you will probably have to ask for a doggy bag as all of these are rather huge.
The scones are served with clotted cream and three sorts of jam: blueberry, strawberry and orange marmalade. It’s a pity that these are not homemade, but that’s probably the only qualm I have about this afternoon tea, at least food wise.
The Petits Fours & Pastries ★★★★★
I would love to give these a sixth star as they are so delicious. The Bristol Hotel Paris has its own bakery and that has a significant impact on the quality, both in taste and appearance: “Malagasy Vanilla Pastry Cream Chouquettes”; “Wild Strawberries Tart”; “Tarte au Citron”; “Pistachio/Raspberry Macaron” & “Hazelnut Financier”.
I cannot even begin to express my preference for either of these… However, my afternoon tea companions went with the “Hazelnut Financier” going as far as to say that this was one of the best cakes they ever had.
Finally, some extra pastries can be ordered straight from the cart (see the pictures below). I’ll make sure to try them out next time in order to update this article, and also to properly photograph the “Bristol Hotel Paris resident cats”.
The Service ★★★☆☆
It’s surprising for a five-star hotel, but the service is the weakest part of the tea-time. Everything about this tea is amazing, so the bar is set rather high. One of the waitresses was a bit rude and the staff was not very accessible, despite the fact that our table was very visible from the bar.
in England, the staff always makes sure you have enough tea, spontaneously offering refills. I’m well aware that this is a French hotel but for a British tradition, you must learn from the best!
I did not notice this flaw last Christmas, maybe it’s due to summer season or simply to that specific waitress… I would like to thank Nathanel who took great care of us as well as Simon, Morgane and the whole Front Office team.
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
I cannot let the slightly weaker service waste this tea experience, this tea-time is fitting of the hotel’s reputation: marvellous.
Do not look any further, it’s one of the best afternoon teas in Paris, along with the Hôtel de Crillon.
The Hotel Bristol Afternoon tea’s pricing policy has changed significantly: the “afternoon tea for two” is nowhere as much as a good deal as before. It probably still is a fantastic tea time, but the value for money isn’t as good compared to last year’es offer (85€ for two people).
+: A magnificent Hotel at a great location within Paris 8
+: The Jardin Français, a gorgeous garden
+: Solid tea & beverage selection
+: The food, original and delicious
-: Service is not five-star hotel worthy
-: No bookings
-: Expensive (2018 update)