Tea in the desert: sand-whiches at The Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi, UAE

January 23, 2014

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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