The Caledonian Hotel has been revived and revitalised and is now a Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It’s sleek in its new colour scheme somehow makes it seems larger, more spacious. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the carpets – when you visit, you’ll see what I mean – but I loved the chandeliers all the way from Austria.
The original venue for afternoon tea, now houses Chris & Jeff Galvin’s new restaurant The Pompadour by Galvin on the first floor. The murals have been retained, I am sure you’ll be happy to hear. The Pompadour together with the Bistro de Luxe are the Galvin Brother’s first venture outside London.
The new venue for afternoon tea Peacock Alley is in a far more accessible place, not far from reception and the front door. The room is spacious and flooded with natural light. In the evening it is transformed into a bar area perfect for a drink before eating at the Brasserie complete with special lighting.
The seating is comfortable, with plenty of cushions a boon for those of us with short legs. Looking round on that Sunday afternoon, most of the guests seemed to be locals rather than hotel guests, many arriving laden with shopping and sitting down with an audible sigh. A sigh that said “Aahh, now I can relax”.
What I am very pleased to say, is that the same talented pastry chefs Chris and Heather continue to create the selection of delights for the tea stand and we recognised some of the waiting staff too.
A word of caution, do not go for afternoon tea if you have booked to go out for dinner. You just won’t have room!
Mr E F chose the special Caledonian Royal Scottish Tea blend, I opted for a rose tea – both were refreshing. The Caledonian a rich golden colour, the rose, pale and delicate.
We had to try everything of course. Starting at the bottom, our favourite of the sandwiches were the ham and mustard. The ham was particularly flavoursome. Onto the scones (plain or fruit), which were warm served with clotted cream and jam – please couldn’t we have Scottish jam rather than little pots from Essex? The scones are light and perfectly baked. (If indeed you do not feel up to the full afternoon tea, you can savour a cream tea instead).
Onto the top tier of the cake stand. It’s always a dilemma which to eat first or looking at it another way, which to leave until last. Although tempted by chocolate eclairs and bit size fruit tarts, we went for the cakes first. Here we found our favourites, mine the battenburg cake with superb marzipan icing, Mr E F a glorious pecan and date cake with a hint of ginger. Looking back at my original review, I see I am a create of habit, the Battenburg was a favourite last time. We finished up with the fruit tarts and eclair which was topped with a generous layer of dark chocolate icing – perfect.
Should you not manage to finish all the tiers of cake, you are offered a box to transport the remaining ones home – so you can dream of Afternoon Tea over your coffee the next day.
Tea is served from 2pm to 5 pm daily. Cost is £22 per person or £30 with Pommery champagne.
The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB
0131 222 8888