Although Mum and I had decided that we weren’t doing “flashy Dubai” this vacation, it was Christmas and so there had to be a few lovely treats involved. The one I was most excited about was going to the recently opened Bvlgari Hotel for their afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea is one of Mum and my favorite things. You get little sandwiches and cakes, and tea which makes Mum happy even if I struggle through the hot beverages part! I like the savory bites the most. Don’t get me wrong, I like the cakes too but the little sandwiches are my highlight!I even wore my Bvlgari sunnies (despite the lack of sunshine that day!) in my bid to be as fabulous as the hotel!
Which is probably why I was as completely and utterly disappointed as I was.
As you drive onto the island, you cannot work out why a hotel with such a lovely name could be located in amongst so many industrial office looking buildings. No wow factor whatsoever.
Then there is the hotel itself. As you drive up it has zero wow either. The staff are all dressed in beige/brown, so that’s blah too.
By this point I was seriously wondering whether we had found the right place.
The lobby wasn’t anything spectacular and the only nod to Christmas was the red berries in the giant vases/urns. That said, we were the only non-regional people that I saw so perhaps it was out of respect to their staying guests?
We were given the option of sitting on the balcony or in the lounge of the lobby, and opted for outside because at least you could see the ocean. I think it would have been a much nicer view had the sun been out, but it was a lousy day so it just added to the general dull theme.
The outside of the hotel had some pretty lace work cladding so that was nice to see.
There wasn’t really any Bvlgari branding aside from the back of the cutlery, so that wasn’t hugely exciting either.
We chose our tea – Jasmine Pearl for Mum and Peppermint for me (it’s the only hot drink I come close to enjoying aside from hot chocolate!), and sat back waiting for the yummy little treats to arrive.
I would at this point like to say they were fantastic with my nut allergy and made a few amendments to my choices.
This was mine:
This was Mum’s:
Not hugely different but enough to make me feel a little hard done by! I love strawberry tarts and cannolis, but they both had some form of nuts in so they were taken away from me. Yay for being alive, but boo for one being replaced by a panna cotta.
There was a delicious piece of chocolate cake substituted though and that was a huge win. It was a dark chocolate and raspberry flavour and stunning. That was probably my favourite of the sweets.
Both Mum and I felt that there was however too much sweet for balance against the savory. Even the plain scones were sweetened.
The lemon curd and strawberry preserve were quite delicious, but added more sweet to the overall experience.
We had asked at one point for another of the absolutely delicious smoked salmon sandwiches but were told they didn’t refresh. Bluntly.
To put it in perspective, cut a normal slice of square white or brown sandwich loaf bread in to 6 pieces and that is probably about the same size as this sandwich. We didn’t ask for a refreshment of all 4 of the sandwiches. Just the smoked salmon.
The other shock was that the second pot of tea was charged at AED 40. At no point were we told, on booking or on ordering, that the AED 290 afternoon tea only accounted for one pot each. Mum loves tea at the best of times and Jasmine Pearl is her absolute favourite so she naturally wanted a second pot. Had I known that was the case I would have skipped mine because I am not a huge fan of even peppermint tea and the bottle of water was included in the price. AED 40 isn’t a huge sum but it just grated having to pay more when the starting price is already quite high.
On top of that, it tasted like they had thrown a bit more tea in the already stewed pot and then just added water. Not good. Then they charged us for the substandard tea which she basically didn’t drink anyway. Extra not good.
Given all of the above, I would not return. I also wouldn’t recommend it. I found it over priced and mean. Also, the staff weren’t quite as polished as you would expect from a hotel like this. They literally ‘plonked’ things on the table and we had to ask for an explanation of what we were being served. There was no finesse.
This was an overwhelmingly disappointing experience and a complete waste of AED 620. For half the price I could have taken her to The Palace Downtown where I know it would have been a superb experience. I went before for their Breast Cancer Awareness Afternoon Tea (one the catch up posts I have been meaning to write!) and was blown away by the choice and quality.