Trust me when I say that The Grand Hotel in York is very ‘ginerous’ with the quantity of gin and tonic that accompanies their marvellous Hendricks Gin afternoon tea.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off my fortnight of 37th birthday celebrations – afternoon tea with some of my favourite fabulous ladies in what claims to be ‘Yorkshire’s only 5 star hotel’.
The Dorchester it is not, but that’s not a bad thing. There aren’t many luxury 5 star hotels that manage to pull off such a warm, friendly, down-to-earth welcome like the Grand does. A proper Yorkshire welcome. Even a couple of schoolboy service errors couldn’t dampen our gin-soaked afternoon.
Wonderfully swish and swanky
We were shown to Hudson’s Restaurant at the end of a long, lavishly decorated corridor-come-seating area with splendid period detail and high ceilings.
The heads of well-heeled guests were buried in The Times, The FT and The Telegraph. They were seated comfortably in the opulent, over-sized dark velvet arm chairs, some sipping on a Martini. It’s all wonderfully swish and swanky and ‘old-world’ – certainly not the place for a red top or a copy of Heat magazine.
My fellow blondes (of varying ages) and I were seated at our table and almost immediately, (quite some time before we were served our gin), two silver stands were placed on our table piled high with all sorts of delectable, tasty little treats.
Afternoon Tea at The Grand is not for the fainthearted – you will certainly not be leaving hungry. Three plates full of savoury and sweet, mouth-watering delights.
“Where’s the gin?”
The gin did take a while to materialise. Whilst the staff prepared the teapots of mother’s ruin, we tucked into the selection of savouries, all of which were truly scrumptious. My favourite from round one was the Yorkshire fettle and sun-blushed tomato tartlet:
Followed by the apple and fennel sausage roll:
The Beef pastrami, Emmental cheese, dill pickle and rye bread sandwich was scrummy and a smoked salmon bagel with chive cream cheese is always a winner isn’t it?
Penny-pitching this hotel does not. I’d go as far as to say even the largest of Yorkshire appetites would struggle to finish the Grand’s afternoon tea.
As part of my new, healthier lifestyle I’ve shunned pastry, white bread and sugary treats so far this year so when I was given the green light to tuck in yesterday, I hoovered up round one without coming up for air.
Sometime mid-way through my gluttony, three huge teapots where placed on our table full to the brim with Hendricks Gin and tonic. We were each given a teacup containing ice and a rolled cucumber shaving. We poured, we clink clicked with our little pinkies out we slurped our G&Ts and sighed a sigh of content.
Slurping the stuff back like it was a cup full of Taylors Gold was inevitably going to be the ruin of us all. Remarkably easy to drink from china, the Gin was being knocked back at a rate of knots whilst we continued in our quest to hoover up the scones, jam and Masham clotted cream, before we moved onto the top tier of sweet treats.
On to the sweet stuff
Well of course the highlight was the gin & tonic cupcake with lime butter cream:
Followed closely by the date sponge, stem ginger frosting and honeycomb:
We couldn’t take the orange cheesecake, gin and mandarin syrup jars home so we polished them off too. And nibbled on the Choux au Croquelin, dark chocolate and praline cream for good measure. What we couldn’t quite manage was boxed up for us to take home.
By now we were all a little merry. Well, quite a lot merry actually. After a shot of caffeine we all moved into the hotel bar area for a ‘one for the road’.
A night cap – or 6
A beautiful, sophisticated, stylish and cosy bar filled with those Telegraph reading guests, this time sipping a G&T from the vast collection on the drinks menu. Or at least it was sophisticated until we rocked up.
The ‘one for the road’ turned into quite a bit of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which was very drinkable. Followed by a bottle of Processo. We had a wonderful time laughing (far too loud) in the somewhat quiet and subdued bar. Although as the clock ticked, the place did start to fill with a more excitable crowd, but by this time it really was time for us to head home.
After a group hug with the bar man, and the receptionist, and the concierge, and the door man, and anyone else who stepped in our way, we eventually called it a day around 9pm.
Bloody marvellous afternoon – I highly recommend The Grand Hotel in York for any celebration. Or just a afternoon of poshing it up with a gaggle of lovely lady friends.
Do make sure you visit the flamboyant bathrooms – they really are quite spectacular. I couldn’t resist the bathroom selfie – my zebra print against that marble glitz and gold looked like something out of Donald Trump’s nursery.
A massive thank you to The Grand Hotel in York and all their wonderful staff for kicking off my birthday fortnight in true style and treating me and the Golden Girls to such a fab afternoon. My first boozy day out in 2017 will hard-to-beat.
Hendricks Gin Afternoon Tea and The Grand is £31.50 each and is available throughout Jan.
Click here to find out more.