The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is among the city’s most luxurious establishments. It is especially renowned as the most prestigious wedding venue in Turkey. Let’s see if their afternoon tea is on par with the hotel’s reputation:
The Setting ★★★★★
The hotel is located on the Bosphorus’ European coast. This part of Istanbul js one of the most premium locations in the area and this is unsurprisingly where most of the city’s five-star hotels are located.
The Kempinski Istanbul is divided into two parts: A modern building, where the afternoon tea is served, and the historical Cirajan Palace building, a former Ottoman Palace which is now the most prestigious wedding venue in Turkey.
I wasn’t very lucky with the weather as it was a very grey day but the Çırağan Palace is even more beautiful when the night comes.
The Gazebo Lounge ★★★★☆
The Gazebo Lounge is located on the hotel’s ground floor, in the new building. The location is ideal as it offers a very nice view of the Bosphorus year-long.
I love the lounge’s atmosphere: it offers plenty of space and a general feeling of tranquillity that is perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
Live music: Friday to Sunday from 4 pm to 6 pm
The Gazebo Terrace ★★★★★
I’ll say it straight away: having afternoon tea at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is a much better experience when the weather allows you to sit on the terrace, as is the case at the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus.
The Gazebo Lounge is open all day so arriving early will not guarantee you a spot on the terrace on a beautiful day but I sure recommend trying to book and/or request priority once a table is free.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★☆
There are 10 teas and infusions from Ronnefeldt, as well as the traditional Turkish tea. While the tea quality was excellent, I was a bit disappointed by the overall lack of choice. There are no white, oolong teas or pu’erh teas on offer.
Still, the afternoon tea includes coffee and a glass of sparkling wine so there is no way you’ll get thirsty. I suggest trying the hotel’s hot chocolate (30 TL) as long as you’re confident in your appetite.
10 teas & infusions from the Ronnefeldt teahaus (black, green and infusions)
Brewing method: Brewed in a teapot brought to the table; infusion cannot be stopped (the tea is bound to over-brew sooner or later)
The Savouries ★★★★☆
The Cold Savouries ★★★★☆
The afternoon tea starts with five cold spreads and one tart, reminiscent of what you’d be served in London:
- Salmon Spread
- Cucumber & cream Spread
- Turkey Spread
- Ratatouille Spread (veggies) ♥
- Egg & watercress Spread
- Smoked cream cheese Tart ♥
Everything was tasty, with the notable exception of the salmon which fell short due to the bread being too dry.
The Hot Savouries ★★★★☆
The hot savouries are then brought on the three-tier stand, along with the scones and cakes.
- Mozzarella, tomato and duck liver Sandwich
- See bass Quiche ♥
- Tempura Shrimp
- Suboregi (soft cheese layered pastry)
These were very nice with the exception of the sandwich which was rather bland.
The Scones ★★★★☆
The scones are served with strawberry jam and Turkish clotted cream (which is closer to whipped cream). Both scones are nice and soft but as they are brought along with the hot savouries, it is quite likely that they won’t be warm once you start eating them.
None of the afternoon teas in Istanbul are served with traditional clotted cream so this criterion cannot be taken into account
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★★
The Afternoon Tea Cakes ★★★★★
At this stage, many people won’t be feeling very hungry anymore. But if your appetite is as good as mine, you’ll be able to enjoy the best part of this afternoon tea:
- Lemon Cheesecake
- Chocolate Cake with Apricot Jam ♥
- Fruit Tart
- Red Velvet Cake ♥
- Walnut & Caramel Cake
I loved the chocolate cake which reminded me of the famed Sachertorte (an Austrian speciality).
Now, this may sound obvious to those of you who are familiar with Turkish Cuisine but these cakes are all quite sweet!
The à-la-carte Cakes ★★★★☆
Smaller appetites will be happy to see that there are plenty of cakes and pastries to order. Allow me to suggest the “Kempinski Mondial Cake” (pistachio, white tea, chocolate mousse, crispy almond praline, pineapple & cherry juice).
Cakes: 35TL; Ice-cream and Sorbet: 10TL
Service is courteous and efficient, as expected in a Kempinski hotel. The staff even brought us a hot towel at the end of the afternoon tea. These little attentions are always most welcome.
Below is the afternoon tea menu detailing the tea and cake selection.
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★☆
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Afternoon Tea is not for the faint of heart: it comes with plenty to drink (tea, coffee and sparkling wine) and lots of food, both savoury and sweet. The hotel’s strongest point rests in its location as it sits on the Bosphorus and offers a prime view of Istanbul.
Costing 170 TL per person, this afternoon tea is quite expensive by Turkish standards. It’s a bit strange that there is no option without a glass of bubbly, as is usually the case.
+: Fantastic location
+: That view of Istanbul
+: The Gazebo Lounge Terrace
+: The Beverages
+: The Cakes & Sweet
+: Kempinski service
+: Good value for money
-: Afternoon Tea is served in the new building
-: Limited tea selection
-: Quite expensive
Phone: +90 212 236 7333