The Peninsula Paris is one of the few five-star hotels where I’d had afternoon tea before starting this website. 2 years later, here I am to review it properly:
October 2020 Update: The afternoon tea is now served from Thursday to Saturday only. Prices updated. – Pour la version française, cliquez ici
The Setting ★★★★★
The Peninsula Paris opened up in 2014 after 6 years of meticulous renovations, where craftsmen, designers and engineers worked together to create a historical and yet comfortable hotel, up-to-date to modern standards. They have done that really well, as the hotel is both magnificent and luxurious, both inside and outside.
The building is located on the Kléber Avenue, just a stroll away from Arc de Triomphe. It was built in 1864 by a Russian nobleman and it may very well be the most history-rich hotel in Paris: it used to be a palace (from which Queen Isabelle II of Spain intrigued to seize back power), a luxury hotel (Hotel Majestic), a military hospital for the British aristocracy during WW, a ministry of defence building, the HQ of the German military command during the Nazi occupation, the UNESCO head office, a government-owned conference centre (where the agreements ending the Vietnamese conflict and the Cambodian civil war were signed) and was finally sold to a Qatari company in 2008.
The “Peninsula” hotel group only own ten hotels in the world and The Peninsula Paris is the first hotel of the brand to open up in Europe. It is also the last French hotel to be granted with the “Palace” distinction, which is an official recognition of the highest level of service. There are only 23 “Palace” hotels in France (e.g. The Bristol) even though many hotels are trying to obtain this distinction (The Ritz or the Crillon).
The Lobby ★★★★★
Afternoon tea is served in The Lobby, which is among the most outstanding I have ever seen. The high ceilings, chandeliers, mirrors, golden leafs and palm trees tastefully come together, combining modern and Belle Epoque styles.
Every weekend, an orchestra plays in The Lobby. We had the pleasure of listening to Vita and her orchestra all afternoon. She is a brilliant singer: each of her songs was rewarded with much well-deserved applause.
Live music: Yes (weekends)
The Terrace ★★★★☆
Weather permitting, it is possible to enjoy the afternoon tea while sitting on the terrace. I don’t recommend it these days as the weather is way too hot but the terrace is very enjoyable, as long as the traffic noises do not bother you (the terrace sits on the Kléber avenue)
The Rooftop ★★★★★
Even though the afternoon tea is unfortunately not served there, the Peninsula’s rooftop is well worth checking out: the view of Paris is amazing!
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
There are 20 teas & infusions on offer (black, green, white, oolong & herbal). The teas are brewed at the proper temperature and brought in a gorgeous teapot bearing the Peninsula’s coat of arms. The brewing method isn’t exactly ideal as the teapots are brought with the tea bag still inside. It’s a good thing that we were also served with a teapot full of hot water, allowing us to rectify the brew if the tea becomes too strong.
I was slightly disappointed by the hotel’s “Limited Edition Peninsula blend 1866” as it tasted fine but ordinary. I much preferred the “Almond Oolong”, which is very pleasant and has a distinctive flavour of almonds, vanilla and spices.
My main complaint would be about the absence of precious or connoisseur teas, it’s quite unusual for a five-star hotel!
Choices of teas: 20
Brewing method: Brewed in the teapot (tea bags), to be adjusted with the hot water teapot
One beverage per person (14€ per extra teapot)
The Savouries ★★★☆☆
Six savouries per person, which are actually three savoury bites brought in pairs:
- Sesame bun, Scottish smoked salmon, rocket salad and ricotta cheese
- Cucumber, Greek yoghurt, fresh dill
- Smoked beef wrap, baby gem lettuce and Meaux mustard
The savoury bites are tasty and refreshing. They are perfect when the weather is so hot but the choice is rather limited.
The Scones & Croissants ★★★★☆
The scones flavours can vary: green apple, rosemary, yuzu… with many toppings such as jam (strawberry & apricot), orange marmalade, honey and traditional clotted cream.
On top of the scones, a brioche-shaped croissant stands on the top plate. It’s delicious and light, to be enjoyed with or without the jam.
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★★
The cakes & sweets are brought on the three-tier stand during the week and are on the buffet on weekend. In that aspect, the Peninsula Paris afternoon tea is a must-try for big appetites!
Between the chocolate fountain and the huge variety of cakes, any sweet tooth will have a proper blast. Be careful as the buffet is only served on weekends (Saturday/Sunday).
These are the cakes which are served all week long, whether it’s on the buffet or the three-tier stand:
- Tiramisu in a shell
- Hazelnut, granola & milk chocolate Shortcake
- Chocolate Éclair
- Candied orange-scented madeleine ♥
- Strawberry, rhubarb and basil tart
- Lemon meringue pie
The Candied Madeleine was the tastiest, with the Tiramisu as the second best (it would have been perfect with more biscuit).
Several things are added to the weekend buffet. The selection varies according to the mood of the chef (Laurent Poitevin) but here are a few examples:
- Paris-Brest (choux pastry and praline flavoured cream) ♥
- Orange cheesecake
- Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate fountain (pineapple, cherries & Financiers).
Good news for lovers of French praline (praliné), the Paris-Brest was simply extraordinary! If you’re lucky enough to find it on the buffet, do keep it for last in order to finish with the most excellent.
Speaking of excellence, the staff also played a big role in the experience. Each table was served with a plate chocolate-coated cherries as the buffet was closing. It’s that kind of generous elegance that distinguishes a five-star “Palace”, such as the Peninsula Paris, from other hotels.
The Service ★★★★★
The service is excellent, as expected from such a venue. Whether it”s the Lobby managers or our waiter Rajiv, the whole team is efficient and highly professional.
Below is a video detailing the contents of the stand, with Vita’s musical orchestra in the background (this video is in French and does not detail the cakes & sweets, as this video was shot on a weekend):
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★☆
The Peninsula Paris afternoon tea is a must-try for any respectable sweet tooth: The hotel is gorgeous, the Lobby is extraordinary and the service is perfect. Special commendation to the orchestra, which was brilliant.
The weekend buffet is especially worth it. Such a high variety of high-quality cakes makes the Peninsula Paris afternoon tea one of the best in the city, especially if you’re a sweet tooth! It’s a pity that the tea and savouries weren’t on par with the rest.
October 2020 Update: The afternoon tea is now served from Thursday to Saturday only. Prices updated.
+: The grand setting
+: The Lobby atmosphere
+: The musical orchestra (weekend)
+: The best view of Paris
+: The cakes & sweets buffet (weekend)
+: The service
-: Run-of-the-mill savouries
-: No fine or connoisseur teas
-: Not as good on weekdays (No buffet and live music)
Phone: +331 58 12 67 54
Address: 19 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris France