Formerly the Free Trade Hall the hotel exudes glamour and luxury with tea served in the impressive colonnade in the Opus One restaurant.
It is unfortunate that the view from the colonnade is not as impressive as the champagne we were impeccably served on ordering the Celebration Tea £23.95. Manchester life goes on at a pace as we viewed courting couples canoodling under the windows, people en-mass coming in and out of the army careers shop and most inexplicably of all, three men arriving by taxi who took photos with snapshot cameras and then drove back off. The mind boggles. Quite how the hotel could get round this is hard to say but it does spoil the ambiance somewhat.
The waiter quietly brought us our tea we chose Earl Grey and the Peppermint both lovely served in individual teapots with built in strainers. When we mentioned that some of the leaves were still escaping the he brought us some extra strainers to pour through. The waiter was most attentive throughout the tea but in no way overbearing. He did give you the lovely old fashioned feeling of being waited on which added to the experience.
The tea was traditionally served on a three tier cake stand. Sandwiches are 'chef's choice' today's choice was cheese and pickle, rare beef and mustard, smoked salmon and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise. They are lovely and fresh but there is not two of each so we draw lots on who gets which. This could be awkward if you don't really know the person you are with but they are all quite delicious so it is not too much of a problem.
Unfortunately the cakes are really not to our taste. We find them extremely sweet, however this is frequently the case with afternoon tea (but needn't be). There is a choice of a cream horn (which is definitely the worst of the bunch and is stale) miniature chocolate and carrot cakes and a jelly which we are told is Prosecco but is very thick and sweet with an odd taste of tarragon to it.
To finish we try the scones. We are served fruit and plain varieties beautifully presented with a curl of clotted cream and strawberry jam they are extremely nice, light and fresh.
The perfect end - shame about the middle.
All opinions given are our own and reflect our own personal taste.
We received afternoon tea free of charge for review.