It's no secret that I'm a lover of this ritual - at half past three, everything stops for tea - and have written about a few of my experiences before (see here). However, it really is one of life's little luxuries, and I only ever really go for afternoon tea on special occasions. Lets face it, if I were to scoff copious amounts of cake on a regular basis, I'd definitely start resembling the Michelin man in no time at all.
So, with that in mind, I was delighted when a little email arrived inviting me to Cheltenham's Malmaison to test out their afternoon tea (permission to gorge without cause granted). Soon enough, after a much needed half day at work on a Friday, off I went - friend in tow - to see what all the fuss was about.
In case you've been living under a rock for that past couple of months, Malmaison has found its home in what used to be Montpellier Chapter. From first glance, you can't really notice any change, other than maybe a couple of widescreen TVs in the lounge areas and a completely different menu coming from the kitchen, but that's fine; it was lovely hotel before anyway, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it - capiche?
Malmaison's afternoon tea is a bit more contemporary than most - especially in comparison to the countrified Cotswolds versions. The triangular sandwiches have been ousted, instead being replaced by wraps and a burger; there's not a tart in sight, and we have a selection of gluten free goodies alongside a fruit smoothie?! Don't worry though, I very much doubt that there's an inch of health in that smoothie (healthiness doesn't come into question with afternoon tea - ever); it's basically a mini milkshake, and delicious it is too. Oh and there's a fruit scone, obviously.
The wraps were a good touch - slightly less bread to fill up on - but I couldn't find much crème fraîche with my salmon. And with the chicken and avocado one, although the chipotle mayo had the right reddish hue, it wasn't smoky or spicy at all. C'est la vie.