I really enjoy going to hotels which have just reopened and was very impatient to review the Hotel de Crillon Paris afternoon tea. I was not let down, as their tea time is truly extraordinary:
September 2018 Update: The Crillon Paris afternoon tea seems to have changed and looks very different from the 2017 version. I hope to go again soon to revamp this article.
The Hotel de Crillon Paris Setting ★★★★★
The Hotel de Crillon Paris has just reopened after 4 years of extensive renovations. It sits on the prestigious Place de la Concorde, at the bottom of the Champs-Elysées avenue.
A former flagship of the Louvre and Concorde hotels, it is now Saudi owned and under the management of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.
In 1758, Louis XV ordered the construction of two identical neoclassical façades; l’Hotel de la Marine was built on the Eastern side and the land to its west was sold to private individuals who had 4 hotels built, and among them the Hôtel d’Aumont. The Crillon family bought the latter in 1788 but it was quickly confiscated during the French revolution, which saw Louis XVI (grandson of Louis XV) guillotined right in front of the building. In 1907, The Groupe du Louvre bought the building in order to transform the building into a prestigious hotel, under its current name “Hôtel de Crillon”. In 2010, it was sold to a Saudi prince who had it closed for renovations in 2013 so as to obtain the “Palace” distinction.
The Hôtel de Crillon Paris reopened in July 2017 and looks more stunning than ever. The Lebanese architect who supervised the interior renovations, Aline d’Amman, said that she wanted to “create an architecture that would be worthy of the legend by renovating without breaking”. I would say she’s done a great job and I strongly encourage you to take a stroll around the hotel, as the ground floor is accessible to the Jardin d’Hiver customers.
Le Jardin d’Hiver ★★★★★
Afternoon tea is served in the Jardin d’Hiver, which means “Winter Garden” in French. Pay no attention to the name, there are very few plants and the venue is actually a lounge. It’s the perfect setting for afternoon tea: the seats are very comfortable and there is enough space to guarantee some privacy. The gorgeous interior court is visible through the large window, giving plenty of natural light.
The coat of arms of the Crillon family sits above the iconic “Eléphant-armoire à liqueur en cristal de Baccarat” (a crystal elephant-shaped liquor cabinet), a symbol of the hotel (visible in the second picture below). The wall also features a quote by King Henri IV, meant for his friend Lieutenant-Colonel Général Duc de Crillon: “Pends toi brave Crillon, nous avons combattu à Aroves et tu n’y étais pas” which translates to “Repent yourself, brave Crillon, we fought in Aroves without you”. The King saw Crillon as the best captain in the world and both men deeply regretted not to have fought together on the battlefield.
La Cour d’Honneur ★★★★★
The interior court is open to the Jardin d’Hiver customers from 3 pm onward. It is a great place for afternoon tea if you are willing to wait an extra 30 minutes and if the weather allows it.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★★
It is a bit of a paradox but many hotels focus on the food when designing their afternoon tea, at the expense of the beverage itself. It’s the ability to excel in both aspects that distinguishes a great afternoon tea from an outstanding afternoon tea.
The Crillon surpasses every Parisian hotel I’ve ever visited in this aspect. Chef Jérôme Chacesse and tea expert Lydia Gauthier have worked together to create a tea menu worthy of the afternoon tea. She selected 17 “classical teas” and 11 “grands crus”. Some of the tea categories are oddly named (Oolong tea is called Blue-green tea…) but the tea selection is beyond reproach. It may even be as good as the tea menu of the Ritz Paris, which is a reference in the French capital.
The staff has also received extensive training in both tea making and tea knowledge. The brewing technique is perfect and the staff may help guests who wish to pair the tea with a certain stage of the afternoon tea, or a specific pastry. For example, the Pu’er Tonka (photographed here) goes really well with sweets and even more so with chocolate cakes.
Allow me to recommend the Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (a delicious lightly smoked black tea) and the Sencha blend (an exquisite blend of Sencha green teas). If paying an extra 19-22€ does not bother you, the connoisseur teas are a must-try.
Classic teas: 17 (black, green and infusions) – (11-12€ per teapot)
Connoisseur teas: 11 (black, green, white, oolong and pu’er) – (19-22€ per teapot)
Brewing method: Brewed loose*leaf by the kitchen team then transferred to another teapot to prevent over-brewing (best technique)
1 beverage per person with the “4′ o clock afternoon tea” (except connoisseur teas)
3 beverages per person with the “Moment of Reflection afternoon (except connoisseur teas)
The Savouries ★★★★★
Guests who choose the “Moment of Reflection” afternoon tea may choose between two savouries:
- Croque Gentleman: cheese and Parisian ham topped with a Mornay sauce (Truffles, truffle cream and Parmesan)
- Croque Lady: cheese and chicken supreme topped with a quail egg sauce
I’m afraid that I only got to try the Croque Gentleman (photographed below). Its subtle flavour is out of this world. It was served with salad and braided crisps, a great accompaniment to a warm dish.
NB: neither option is suitable for vegetarians and/or vegans
The Travelling Cakes ★★★★★
This afternoon tea is scone-free so you’ll immediately move on to the cakes and sweets. Whether you choose the “4 o’ clock” or the “Moment of Reflection” afternoon tea, you will have the opportunity to sample 5 “travelling cakes” (“gâteaux de voyage” in French). Each is named after a city, as they are meant to represent a state or a country:
- Nagoya (Japan): Sesame and yuzu ♥
- Odessa (Texas): Texas Pecan
- Nairobi (Morroco): Orange blossom, rhubarb and raspberry compote
- Alexandria (Italy): Biscuit cake with walnuts and apricot coulis
- Versailles (France): Almond and raspberry ♥
The Nagoya cake is perfect for those who fancy a slightly sweet and acidic cake (on the left in the pictures below). I’m always happy to eat such a cake, as even my own “sweet-toothed-ness” has its limits.
Every tea cake is as gorgeous as it is scrummy but I do have a slight preference for the Versailles (on the right in the pictures below).
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★★
If you choose the “Moment of Reflection afternoon tea”, you will get to sample many cakes and pastries from the tray:
- Dark chocolate Concorde
- Milk chocolate Concorde
- Pistachio and fruit Concorde
- Luxor (a creamy and bitter chocolate cake)
- Paris-Brest with nut Muesli and crunchy nuts ♥
- Wild strawberry tart with Diplomat cream ♥
- Rum Baba Infused in white Rum with Mascarpone cream and lime
- Fraisier (Strawberry cake) with ginger cream, dark chocolate and raspberry
The wild strawberry tart (on the right in the second picture below) is extraordinary. It’s actually the best fruit tart I have ever eaten. The distinctive aroma of wild strawberries goes perfectly with the slightly sweet flavour of the Diplomat cream.
The Paris-Brest isn’t far behind: it was delicious, crunchy and just sweet enough. Guests who love bitter sweet cakes will favour the Luxor (on the left in the second picture below).
Each cake is scrummy but it gets better: the staff is knowledgeable when it comes to pairing teas and they will be able to provide precious advice to help you find the right tea for the cakes.
I can’t help repeating myself though: do try the “pu’er Tonka” (a connoisseur tea), and even more so if you love chocolate. This tea’s powerful bitterness will go very well with chocolate cakes and pastries (Chocolate Concorde or Luxor cakes).
The Service ★★★★★
The Crillon Paris may have reopened a few weeks ago but the Jardin d’Hiver staff performs as if they’d been welcoming customers for years.
The waitresses or the lounge managers, Amel and Taïna, were all highly professional and attentive. The team is also very knowledgeable about the hotel, the teas and the food.
Below is a video detailing the cakes & sweets (in French):
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Hotel de Crillon Paris afternoon tea is among the best afternoon teas I have ever had. The setting is magnificent, the tea selection is excellent and the food is delicious.
Choosing the “Moment de Reflection” afternoon tea will let you taste many delicious teas and cakes, which makes the Crillon afternoon tea the best in Paris in terms of value for money (except perhaps the afternoon tea for two served at the Bristol Paris). A great deal of effort was put into the tea selection and personnel training. This is noticeable as the teas are brewed perfectly and the staff is also very knowledgeable about tea and proper pairings.
This level of excellence is unusual and so I am granting a “Golden Teapot” to the Hotel du Crillon Paris. This distinction is granted to exceptional afternoon teas, with a level of excellence in every single aspect of the Afternoon Tea experience. The Crillon is the second hotel to ever receive a Golden Teapot and joins the Mandarin Oriental London at the top of this website’s rankings, where the best afternoon teas in the world belong!
September 2018 Update: The Crillon Paris afternoon tea seems to have changed and looks very different from the 2017 version. I hope to go again soo to revamp this article.
+: Gorgeous setting
+: The “Moment of Reflection” afternoon tea
+: The tea selection
+: The delicious food
+: The choice of cakes & sweet (With refills with the moment of reflection)
+: Exemplary service
+: Excellent price/performance ratio
+: The best afternoon tea in Paris
-: The “4’o clock” option is not as good
-: No Scones
Phone number: +33 1 44 71 15 25
Address: 10 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris