The Waldorf Astoria name has always been associated with grandeur and opulence. I had the opportunity to try the afternoon tea served at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam and it is as grand as I expected.
March 2020 update: price as the current afternoon tea is now dearer (Love & Luck is on until 31/03)
The Setting ★★★★★
Located in a 17th century Palace with a view on the Gentlemen’s canals, the Waldorf Astoria is truly an amazing hotel. Guests can eat in the “Vault Bar” (the hotel building used to be a bank), the “Librije’s Zusje Restaurant” or in the UNESCO registered hotel gardens. The hotel is also known for having its own beehives and serves a honey themed afternoon tea in the summer.
The afternoon tea is served in the Peacock Alley, a superbly decorated lobby with a view on the hotel gardens. The atmosphere is especially fitting for an afternoon tea: the large windows fill the lobby with natural light and the pianist (Wednesday – Sundays) is a true virtuoso.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★☆
The Waldorf Astoria tea selection is very generous with several fine teas to choose from, with an extra tea chosen by the hotel team. There are two recommendations for optimal pairing: one tea for the savouries and another tea for the scones and sweets. Each of the two selected teas were both delicious and perfectly suited for each course.
The staff always brews the tea for you and they will refill your cup if necessary. The water temperature was always right so overall the tea was brewed very well. Even better, the staff displayed both knowledge and passion regarding each tea and its proper pairing with food.
While I appreciate the thought, I much prefer to brew the tea (with the help of an hourglass) and refill the cup by myself rather than wait for someone to do it. Of course the staff will happily put the teapot on the table if requested. Just remember to ask if that’s how you roll.
The Formosa Tong Ting (Taiwanese Oolong tea): ★★★★☆
A very subtle yet sweet fragrance, very light for an oolong (Selected by the Waldorf Astoria team to drink with the savouries).
Black tea with roses (Indian black tea blend): ★★★★★
A delicate flowery taste with a hint of roses, brilliant pairing (Selected by the Waldorf Astoria team to drink with the sweets).
Liu Zhe Shan (Chinese green tea): ★★☆☆☆
Bitter and astringent, yet a very plain flavour.
The Sencha Lemon (Japanese Sencha): ★★★☆☆
Very lemony which results in an acid flavour, not for most palates!
The Golden Yunnan (Chinese black tea): ★★★★★
A very strong, full bodied smoky flavour that is distinctive of Yunnan teas. Almost tastes like a Pu-er tea, which is from the same region. The best choice for connoisseurs who are no put off by strong flavours!
NB: People who fancy something a bit lighter can also order Jasmine tea or Rooibos, both will not disappoint.
The Savouries ★★★★☆
The afternoon tea starts with an amuse-bouche, brought in a gorgeous golden egg. I really appreciate that the Executive Chef, the Two-Michelin starred Sidney Schutte, decided to offer more than the usual sandwiches.
Originality is often too lacking when it comes to the savouries and these are also as delicious as they are beautiful. You’re in for a treat!
Golden egg filled with Shrimp and Miso Mayonnaise: ★★★★★
Simple but brilliant, the Miso adds a distinctive flavour to the mayonnaise. A perfect way to start the afternoon tea.
Foie Gras Lollipop: ★★★★☆
A duck liver lollipop coated with beetroot and served it with a lavash crumble. Tasty, original and aesthetically pleasing.
Caesar Salad on a stick: ★★★★☆
Very refreshing and generously seasoned with parmigiana. A bit difficult to eat but well worth it.
Smoked Salmon Blini: ★★★★★
Blini topped with smoked salmon, salmon eggs, sour cream and fennel cream. Brilliant.
Chicken and Vegetables Dumpling: ★★★☆☆
Filled with smoked chicken, carrots and spring onions and seasoned with Hoisin sauce. More pungent than pleasurable.
Sweet & Sour Profiterole: ★★★☆☆
Ham mousse profiterole topped with Spanish smoked paprika. Lacks flavour, but can serve as a proper transition before the sweets.
The Scones ★★★★★
The scones are tasty and freshly baked, each guest gets one of each flavour: Ginger, Vanilla and Fruit.
The scones come with clotted cream, three different jams (raspberry, strawberry & marmalade) and honey. The jams and honey are from Alain Milliat, an excellent brand that surpasses many of the homemade jams I had in previous afternoon teas.
The variety in both the scones flavour and the assortments earns the scones their five stars.
The Cakes & Pastries ★★★★☆
The cakes are tasty, varied and gorgeous. Make sure to try out each cake as all of them are excellent, with the notable exception of the “Mangiare Chocolate”.
Almond Gâteau Opéra: ★★★★☆
Sponge cake with layers of almonds, strawberry and coconut. Delicious and light, thus recommended to finish the afternoon tea on a soft note.
Mangiare Chocolate: ★★★☆☆
Chocolate cake filled with banana crémeux and peanuts, topped with chocolate mousse and passion fruit. Unfortunately, the banana flavour is so strong that you’ll barely taste anything else…
Pistachio Macaroon: ★★★★☆
The staff recommends eating this one whole, for a little “explosive surprise” inside the raspberry. Spoiler alert: the raspberry is filled with lavender & lime cream.
Sweet Profiterole: ★★★★★
Pineapple, vanilla cream and coriander profiteroles; crunchy, creamy and scrummy. The best cake of this afternoon tea and a great way to get started once you’re done with the scones and savouries.
Rum-Raisin Cannelé: ★★★★★
An excellent cannelé, the balance between the crunchy caramelised outer layer and the soft rum-raisin centre is masterful.
Dulce de Leche Cherry Pie: ★★★★☆
Cherry pie filled with dulce de leche (literally jam made of milk) and topped with lemon meringue. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds, but also very sweet.
The Service ★★★★☆
The hotel team is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. I especially appreciate the passion which emanated from the lady that served us the afternoon tea, who provided us with some details about the beverages, the food and the hotel.
Towards the end of the afternoon tea (around 5 pm), the staff seemed to be slightly overwhelmed so the service was quite slow, which resulted in some of our teas being over-brewed. I know the afternoon tea theoretically ends at 5 pm but many people arrived quite late. Management should consider having more people on Sundays is they want the staff to cope, especially considering the tea service MO.
Below is a video detailing the full contents of the afternoon tea, smakelijk!
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam afternoon tea does live up to the premium image that surrounds the hotel brand.
The food is original, beautifully presented and most importantly, delicious. It’s a pity that the staff was a bit overwhelmed towards the end, but the service is still well worthy of a five-star hotel.
+: Beautiful Hotel located on the canals
+: The hotel team’s tea selection
+: The amuse-bouche
+: Delicious and original food, gorgeous presentation
+: Service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient
-: Limited hours (3 to 5 pm)
-: Staff was snowed under towards the end