Considering how exceptional the Mandarin Oriental London afternoon tea is, I had some really high hopes for the Mandarin Oriental Paris, which is now home to Michelin starred charismatic chef Thierry Marx:
The Mandarin Oriental Paris Setting ★★★★☆
The Mandarin Oriental Paris is among the city’s newcomers in the world of French “Palaces” with the Peninsula Paris. It sits on rue Saint-Honoré, just a few minutes away from Place Vendôme, Madeleine and the Jardin des Tuileries.
The hotel opened in 2011 and is located in an “Art Déco” 1930s building which used to be occupied by French government offices. There is no grand façade and the entry is actually very discrete compared to other Parisian hotels. “Mandarin Oriental” hotels are usually decorated in a very modern way and the Mandarin Oriental Paris is no exception. Architects and designers have done a remarkable job, especially on the courtyard which is gorgeous and gives the lobby all its charm.
The Mandarin Oriental Paris is the only French hotel which is certified “Haute Qualité Environnementale” (High Quality Environmental standard). It rewards “green buildings” which satisfy many criteria (environment and health related) but also meet certain standards of comfort.
Le Camelia Restaurant ★★★☆☆
Afternoon tea is served in Le Camelia restaurant. The decoration is very modern and the interior design reminded me of a spaceship.
I’m not too keen on these kinds of decoration which seem a bit too cold to my taste. It’s a relief that the big windows offer a view of a courtyard open to the restaurant’s guests during good weather.
The Courtyard ★★★★★
The courtyard garden alone makes the visit worthwhile. If you like greenery and enjoy the company of sparrows, having an afternoon tea on the terrace will be a relaxing experience right in the middle of Paris. A big fountain divides the courtyard into two, with half the space allocated to Le Camelia restaurant and the other to the Sur Mesure restaurant by Thierry Marx.
A tree is suspended above the water by ropes which are tied according to the principles of a Japanese art called “Shibari” (literally “tied” in Japanese). In the West, Shibari is mainly known as an erotic activity… Whether you like it or not, the birds seem to love it and use it as a vantage point, ready to seize the opportunity to catch a few crumbs!
If possible, I recommend sitting down in a yurt or even at the birdcage shaped chef’s table (only for groups of 6-8 persons).
The courtyard is open when the weather allows it and some tables are even available when it rains
The yurts and the chef’s table are only available when it does not rain and are for groups
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
This tea selection does disappoint slightly, as it’s quite insufficient for a five-star hotel of this calibre. There is a mere election of15 teas and infusions from JING, a rather average tea brand which I’ve already mentioned many times in other articles.
The pu’er is ordinary and lacks flavour, I recommend the oolong tea which is probably the best among the rest.
Choice of teas: 15 from JING (black, green, white, oolong, pu’er and infusions); tea bags
Brewing method: Brewed in the kitchen using tea bags
1 choice of tea with refills per afternoon tea; 12€ for an extra teapot
The Savouries ★★★★☆
The savouries are quite tasty but a bit frugal. There are three savoury bites:
- Cucumber and cream cheese
- Salmon and compote ♥
- Pastrami and mustard
The small salmon and compote toast is delicious. The sweet and salty combination works out perfectly.
The Scones ★★★★☆
The scones were well cooked but not excessively so. It’s quite unusual to eat such a crispy scone but I love it :
- Matcha tea and white chocolate ♥
They are served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. This would have been perfect with one or two extra toppings.
The “matcha tea and white chocolate” scone is delicious and original.
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★★
As is usually the case in Paris, the sweets make up for more than 80% of this afternoon tea:
- Chocolate Fondant
- Vanilla almond Cake ♥
- Hazelnut and fudge Financier
- Strawberry soup
- Canelé Bordelais
The almond cake is very pleasant as it’s both light textured and tasty. Guests are supposed to keep the strawberry soup and the canelé for last, in order to finish on a light note.
Each guest who orders the afternoon tea may choose one pastry from the menu. You may have a hard time choosing as the cakes on offer are both delicious and beautiful.
I chose the ‘Rubis’, a litchi biscuit, mascarpone cream and raspberry confit with a white chocolate shell (photographed below). That cake was amazing, the taste was soft, subtle and extremely pleasing to the palate.
You will also notice that this afternoon tea attracts the attention of the birds. Be wary as some of the sparrows are cheeky enough to steal a few crumbs from right under your nose!
Each pastry costs 15€, which is a very reasonable price considering the quality. You may be able to try out a few different ones or even order some instead of the afternoon tea.
The detailed pastry selection is visible below (second picture).
The Service ★★★☆☆
Service is courteous and efficient.. but a little slow. This is due to the collaboration of several teams within the Mandarin Oriental during the afternoon tea preparation.
I recommend ordering the tea and the pastry as soon as you arrive (it’s possible to choose your pastry at the counter even before you sit down).
Below is a video detailing the contents of the afternoon tea (in French):
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★☆
The Mandarin Oriental Paris afternoon tea is among your best bets in the city on a sunny day. The courtyard is gorgeous and the company of many sparrows may even let you forget that you’re right in the heart of the first district of Paris.
The tea selection (insufficient for a hotel in this category) and the slow service do not warrant a perfect score.
+: The courtyard
+: The sparrows
+: The delicious food
+: The pastries
+: Good value for money (48€ per person)
-: Le Camelia restaurant’s UFO decoration
-: JING tea selection
-: Slow service
Address: 251 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris