PARK HYATT ABU DHABI HOTEL AND VILLAS
PO Box 52007
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 2 407 1234
abudhabi.park@hyatt.com

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What a strange place Dubai is. It’s been on the Noveltea bucket list for as long as we can remember but keeps getting usurped by places like Stoke on Trent and Whitstable and so its exotic depths have gone un-plumbed… until now. For reasons too boring to go into, one half of Noveltea recently found themselves with a few days and Dihrams to spare in the United Arab Emirates.

Frankly there’s a lot not to like about the place if you put your mind to it. The building are so tall they make your head spin standing on the ground; the bacon is made of beef; you can’t walk outside for want of pavement… and inside the marble floors play havoc I with leather soles; the metro is tediously clean and punctual; and there is such an abundance of poor taste and extravagance it makes one quite envious. Rather than trudge around the malls I hired a sporty little number and set out in search of tea. More specifically I had set my heart on the £75 champagne cream tea at the Burj Al Arab but amid the jumble freeway intersections my hopeless navigation – in combination with Arabic SatNav and road signs – soon lead me the opposite direction down the 7 lane Sheik Zayed Highway with the famous landmark a dwindling speck in the mirror.

So I was I ended up on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi with the thirst of a camel and more or less by accident took the ramp up to the Hyatt Park Hotel. It was only the second Noveltea outing where I’ve been treated to valet parking and all the more propitious for not arriving in a car which required winch-starting. Having swapped the machine for a slip of paper I sauntered unencumbered into the soothing marble lobby, down an extravagant staircase and out to where the Gulf laps against a manicured private beach to the rear. There were two smart outdoor restaurants upholding the curious Emirate tradition of long, boozy Friday brunches and upstairs a slightly less exuberant cross between a London gentleman’s club and a 70’s porno studio to which I retreated in search of cake.

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And what cake! Vanilla slice, chocolate gateau, 4 ruthlessly stylish varieties of eclair and macaroons of every flavour of the rainbow. Each was presented to the table with due reverence, bordering on reproach that we could defile such miniature works of art. Scones followed. I adore being told there’s a 20 minute wait for scones because you know at the time of ordering they’re still dough in a bowl somewhere. When they came – perfect, breasty little buns – they were untouchable hot and oven-scented. In a weighty silver Lazy Suzan came thick, sludgy clotted cream, and jams of fig, apricot, strawberry and cassis. Pre-lacing the scone with a layer of butter has always struck me as superfluous but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. All this was washed down with copious amber Ceylon from a beautiless, if practical, glass cafetière.

The bill: eye-raising without being jaw-dropping. Not terrible value for the service we received and certainly a lot less than the Burj would have set me back without the smug glitzyness that accompanies it.

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Combining tea with DANGER

January 8, 2014

image

No idea if it’s for real but though we had to pick up on this – the world’s most dangerous tearoom.

http://www.uqpu.net/teahouse/

No current plans to review but will reconsider if there’s enough demand…

July 17, 2013

Blog of the week features other friendly bloggers who obsess about tea

 

Today’s featured Blog is:

http://lornastearoomdelights.wordpress.com/about/

“I do like a nice tearoom” says Lorna, who first got in touch last year. Since then she has clearly been busy, not only bumbling round the tearooms of Scotland (and further afield), but even publishing a book about the same, while selling a delightful little range of handmade cards to finance her baking addiction.

We adore her frequent posts, beautiful high-definition illustrations and quirky sence of humour. Keep up the good work!

Where there's tea there's hope

Spotted in a shop window in Bristol

 

2012 has been a busy year for Noveltea for all sorts of reasons. We visit dozens of tearooms over the course of the year and have reviewed plenty for you on our blog and website including Lahloo in Bristol, The Rose in Oxford, and Cup in Glasgow.

 

Find a tearoom on the move

In 2012 Noveltea went mobile: now your nearest tearoom is in your pocket!

 

We’ve also been baking, of course in the THQ kitchen and look forward to sharing some of our better concoctions in the New Year as well as a special little expose we’ve been preparing about the ones which didn’t work so well. (On this note, one thread which attracted a lot of attention was The exploits and misadventures of Herman the German Friendship cake – a cautionary tale of the unexpected pitfalls which await the unwary). 

 

Delicious apple cake enjoyed with a cup of tea

Herman the German Friendship cake passes through the Noveltea kitchen on its worldwide journey.

 

Amongst other inervations we’ve introduced our new BlogWatch feature, which lets us bring to light other tea-related blogs like Afternoon Tea Total and Tea for You and Me. If you manage such a blog or website, or just know of one we might like then please do get in touch.

 

Blog of the week features other friendly bloggers who obsess about tea

New in 2012: our BlowWatch feature focuses on the exploits of fellow tea-lovers

 

Noveltea was established – all those years ago – to help fellow tea lovers find great afternoon tearooms. What continues to delight and surprise us year on year, though, is the enthusiasm we get in return.Along the way, and among others, we’ve met Fanny, Sam and Jane from vintage tea party planners Nips and Crumpets, and the guys from The Attic, Bristol. This year we met TV presenter Maddie Moate, spent a week with Professor Robert Murphy in his beautiful cottage in Ireland and made contact the Chester Ladies Cycling Club and are very much looking forward to a project together in 2013.

 

Maddie Moate

We bump into TV presenter Maddie Moate who is happy to model our new range of headwear

 

Allow us to extend our warmest seasonal wishes to all the above, and of course you our loyal readership. 600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012 and in the same period we understand that this blog got about 3,500 views. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years. For more nerdy statistics and figures you can view our full annual report.

It only leaves us to iterate our thanks and best wishes and we look forward to seeing you back next year.

 

Lily Pemberton signature Amos J Harris signature

For what is fast approaching more years than we care to remember we have been reviewing afternoon tearooms across the UK, from trains to treehouses, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, from terrifically good to just terrific. We rate all establishments using our uniquely developed ‘Noveltea Teapot Rating’ system from 1 to 5 but It was put to us recently by the good ladies of the Chester Ladies’ Cycling Club that we have never formally published the criteria upon which we base our judgements… Until now.

 

Noveltea.co.uk
Teapot Rating1

Defining
characteristics

Roughly how far
would you travel?

One pot

Dreadful. This is reserved for when somewhere is unhygienic or dangerous about the place.

Would travel >100 miles to avoid.

Two pots

A notch below the average UK tearoom. Something wrong here.

Would to travel >50 miles to avoid.

Two and a half
pot

Your average UK tearoom, that is: squirty cream, butter and jam from small plastic containers, microwaved scones, stale or mass produced cake, cheap tea bags etc.

If there were only two tearooms in town we’d pick the other one.

Three pots

A notch above the average tearoom but again nothing too special. The majority or the places we visit seem to achieve 3 – 3.5 pots.

If there were only two tearooms in town we’d pick this one.

Four pots

Now we’re talking. A great tearoom with no signs of any of the faux pas present in their poorer 2.5 pot relatives.

Would travel >50
miles just to visit.

Five pots

Five potters are few and far between and we reserve the honour for the very best of the best. All the above is taken as read; it must possess something genuinely unique to well and truly blow your socks off.

Would travel >100 miles just to visit.

 

1. These ratings are subjective and depend on many factors, not least how we’re feeling at the time. We attempt to be honest and accurate above all things; some ratings are based on a single visit, however, so may be artifactually high or low. If you own a tearoom and find fault with our review then we would encourage you to get in touch with a view to us revisiting your establishment or removing it entirely and forthwith.

 

So there we have it. A list of tearooms in each category is available at our website and new ones are being added all the time. If there’s something special about your favourite tearoom, be it crisp linen napkins, fresh-from-the-oven cakes and scones, or the genuine smiles then please do get in touch.

Lahloo Pantry,
12 Kings Road,
Clifton Village,
Bristol,
BS8 4AB
0117 329 2029

http://www.lahlootea.co.uk/

 

As the city of Bristol boomed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, largely thanks to industrialisation and the trade people and commodities, so the doomsday-book village of Clifton swelled in size and in opulence. Today it’s home to some of the smartest shops and addresses in the city and is a likely place as any to find the finest tearooms. Of all of these, Lahloo Pantry, named after a Chinese tea clipper, is perhaps the very finest of all.

Given its unpropitious position (by the bins around the back of WH Smith) and demure frontage you could be forgiven for missing it entirely but in the year since it started trading in 2011 it has established an enviable reputation among the good folks of Bristol. Hopes raised, and bellies rumbling we were the first customers in on Saturday morning.

The décor is minimal but inviting: bare wood, warehouse lighting and casually stacked tea chests and paraphernalia, amongst which you perch on high stools. The menu is funky and economical. The service is sharp without being pushy. The anticipation is unbearable.

Many tearooms face the problem of how to enforce appropriate brewing times upon their impatient clientele. Some provide little egg timers and a strainer; others (like the Attic Tearoom) opt for ingenious mechanical gizmos which drain the liquor off the leaves at the appropriate juncture. At Lahloo they take the attitude ‘why risk it?’. After all when the tea is that damn good why not let the pros decide how and when to serve it? So tea comes served in a small cast iron pot, pre-infused and ready to roll – the coffee in rather scientific-looking conical flasks. Both were astoundingly good, in fact we’d put our necks on the line here and say possibly even The Best.

After that they could do no wrong. For Lily: delicious savoury scones with homemade chili jam. For Amos: a selection of cakes and patisseries that, days later, still send him into little reminiscent spasms of pleasure. It is very seldom we enjoy tea as much as we did in Lahloo, and unprecedented that we should order second helpings to go.

Lahloo is an outstandingly good tearoom in Bristol

 

 

Read more tearoom reviews in the South West

The Rose Tearoom,
The High,
Oxford
OX1 4AS

01865 244429

http://the-rose.biz/

Back as Oxford undergraduates, where we met, there weren’t that many serious contenders to the title of ‘Best Tea in Town’: it was between the Grand Café, the Randolph and the Old Parsonage (whose reviews can be found elsewhere) and of the three the former was a clear winner. Then one day a new tearoom opened up on the High which threatened to change everything. The Rose was chic and classy and offered a fabulous selection of loose leaf teas and an equally impressive variety of fresh cakes, scones and savouries with which to marry them. Although we made careful notes on the back of a napkin as we always do, we were let down by our filing system (that is to say the box under the desk in the spare room) and due to this gross oversight our review was never made public… until now.

Unfortunately the delay does not seem to have been in The Rose’s favour; it has not only lost out on the glory associated with such a prestigious review but in the intervening period it appears to have fallen in out estimations. The original napkin, although somewhat grubby does clearly say 4 pots out of a possible 5 but when we visited it today, try as we may, we felt physically unable to be so generous.

Where have they misplaced that all-crucial extra pot? The tea and cake is actually just as good as we remember; there remains an exciting assortment of fine teas and the scones practically grab you by the lapels and scream ‘fresh’ in your face. In fact we’ll put our necks on the line and say judged solely on this basis it could still be the best in Oxford. But please! What happened to the service? Call us stuck-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddies but:

1)      A Gallic shrug is not a serviceable answer to a question, neither is pointing mutely at the cake display;

2)      If you can be lured into conversation we’d rather have it with your face than your retreating behind;

3)      The bill is the bill and as such not to be presented as if it were a pair of your soiled underpants

And since you’ve gone and got us in a complainy mood we also resented having to walk through the kitchen to get to a toilet which looked like it belonged on an Indian sleeper train. It doesn’t do to dwell on negatives and we do accept – indeed hope – that this may have been an unfortunate one-off but until we know we can be treated with the civility deserving of their (really rather good) tea, our hands are tied.

Go on say it: we’re stuck-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddies.

3/5 pots

Read more tearoom reviews in the Midlands

Our cup of tea… in Glasgow

September 15, 2012

Cup Tearoom
311 Byres Road
Glasgow
G12 8UQ
0141 357 2525

http://www.cupglasgow.co.uk/

 

The stream of Lily’s eulogy was halted – but only briefly – by the tinkling of our electronic egg timer, which informed us that our Ceylon Ruhunu was good to go; if you’re in business of eulogising (or afternoon tea for that matter) you’ll find plenty to occupy you here.

‘Cup’ was a chance discovery and, like finding a twenty pound note in the pocket of a pair of trousers you haven’t worn for a while, a very welcome one indeed as we battled against the rain down in Glasgow’s “posh” West End. Once inside a ceiling-high glass frontage affords this quirky modernist tea room a light and airy demeanour, in despite of its compact size, and instantly banished our fears and demons of the wet and threatening Lothian streets. Seated efficiently yet with warmth we stared agog at the burgeoning tiered cake stands of our fellow diners, the weighty menu of teas and tisanes in front of us and the bar to our rear, constructed from an edible wall of fairy cakes.

We placed our order and waited with a strange mixture of excitement should the food live up to our seventeen storey high expectations and apprehension in case it should not. When it arrived what little professional veneer we had continued to affect was replaced by undiluted, childlike glee: each cake was a work of art, each sandwich a celebration and the scones tasted like they’d been plucked from the oven only milliseconds beforehand. Needless to say in all the excitement our eyes and the size of our tummies lost track of one another and when the euphoria subsided we ended up gazing (Amos: wistfully, Lily: tearfully) at the remnants of our repast but we needn’t have worried as doggy bags – although nothing as vulgar as a bag, of course – were on hand and we clutched them tightly under our coats on the subway journey home lest we be mugged.

Justifying 4 and a half pots was the easiest decision we’ve ever had to make; justifying why it doesn’t earn the coveted 5 pots was probably the most difficult. Certainly if there’s a better tearoom in Scotland we should like to know about it.

 

Read more tearoom reviews in Scotland

Cup of Brown Joy – Elemental

September 14, 2012

A week has past since the Great Herman Debacle and life is gradually returning to normal at THQ. True, the walls around the boiler may never return to their original colour and there is a faint yeasty smell in the air which has proved resistent to even the most liberal daily doses of Febreze. We have been all but living on a delicious apple and cinnamon cake which issweet and  crispy on top and moist in the middle as a good cake should be. The bruise on my hip is fading and tomorrow we’ll pick up my coat, jacket and trousers from the dry cleaner – hopefully cakemix free.

Above all we got back in touch with some old friends. Rose calledfrom Canterbury to say that just when she thought her week couldn’t get any worse someone had played a horrible practical joke on her in the post. We declined to offer any further explanations but then Hannah rung from the Post Office, where she had been judiciously summonsed to explain why the morning’s mail bound for Fulham was all stuck together.

“If I hadn’t recognised your writing I would have called the police!”, she chided.

Finally, Olivia sent us this picture from Sailsbury of the package she received the following day:

Never underestimate the potential mess involved in sending live yeast in the post

If at first you don’t succeed: Herman arrives in tact (more or less)

I would hesitate to call the episode an unmitigated success. On reflection I think sending ANYTHING living in the post is probably best avoided. In this instance it seems the pressure of the gas given off by the metabolising yeast (like a frail shoot punches up through thick tarmac) was enough to cause lid and tub to part company somewhere on the tube, and then again in the local sorting office.

We have heard several mentions of Herman the German Friendship cake since then and each time we roll our eyes knowingly and swear that if anyone pulls that stunt again it’s going straight in the bin. You know, the one with the dent in it.