Florida Guide > Dining
Tea at the Grand Floridian
It was not until we had friends over for the first time to visit us in our villa that we decided it was time to sample afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian Hotel in Disney.
I had seen photos of it on the internet, and it looked lovely but nothing could have prepared us for the sight of the beautiful Grand Floridian Hotel. It was a gloriously sunny day when we drove up to the front, and, whilst our husbands went off to park the car, my friend and I walked into the foyer. It was quite stunning, with a huge atrium in the centre reaching up several stories, with balconies running around it, and beautiful stained glass domes right at the top, from which were suspended huge sparkling white chandeliers. We made our way to the Garden View Lounge, a conservatory where tea was to be served, and were told that if we cared to take a seat they would call us when our table was ready. When I booked it I was rather concerned as they said there were only tables for two available, but they reassured me that we would be able to sit together.
So we sat on comfortable sofas in the huge atrium and waited, with beautiful piano music playing in the background to soothe us. A young man was playing a grand piano, and it was most relaxing. I decided to take some photos while we waited and was intrigued to see a huge bird cage on one side. There were large tables with elaborate flower arrangements, and numerous seating areas with sofas and chairs. I love watching the world go by, and seated opposite us was a family with two little girls dressed in adorable Alice in Wonderland costumes – complete with long blonde hair. They looked so cute that I wished that I had little granddaughters to bring with me. I later discovered that these costumes could be purchased in the shop inside the hotel.
We did not have to wait long, and as we entered the Garden View Lounge we could see tables prepared for afternoon tea. We were ushered to our seats by a lady in a long Victorian styled dress and white apron, and we found two chairs and a sofa with two round tables between them waiting for us. We settled comfortably into our seats and were quickly approached by our server who welcomed us with a smile and asked us which of the many teas available we would like. We had already decided to have the Buckingham Palace tea, and so all we had to do was choose our variety of hot tea. My choice, I am afraid was very boring – Imperial English breakfast, whilst my friend’s husband opted for the Lemon Verbena and my friend selected the Russian Early Grey - both of which were pronounced to be delicious. The tables were marble, and on them were set delicate floral Royal Albert bone china cups and saucers, a sugar bowl with silver tongs, a milk jug, plus a floral arrangement. There were starched linen napkins and little individual tea strainers in bowls. I have to admit to it being a very long time since I had used one of those, although of course, in my childhood they were a common item – no teabags in those days!
We did not have long to wait for our tea to arrive in large bone china teapots. As we poured out our refreshingly hot beverages – tea first of course, followed by the milk - we relaxed and looked around our delightful surroundings. Large tea cosies were brought to us and put on the teapots to maintain their heat – maroon velvet with gold braid and gold embroidered lettering which reminded me of the cosies we used to use as a child – without the gold braid of course! The room itself was surprisingly small, with views out onto the gardens, which were awash with colourful flowers in pristine beds. The tea was delicious, and we sat and chatted whilst our server returned with individual plates of delicate sandwiches – all of them different and each on a variety of breads. There was an egg and cress sandwich, chicken, cucumber, prawn and something with pear in it – most unusual. They were tiny but quite delicious, though the bread was a little dry. Our teapots were continually refreshed and our sandwiches were followed by scones, strawberry jam (sadly in little plastic containers! ) and cream which we were assured was from Devon. They were quite delicious, and followed by a choice of either strawberries and cream or pastries. A large tray of delicious looking and very dainty cakes was brought to our table – choux swans, tiny individual fruit tarts, chocolate coated strawberries, éclairs etc – and we made our choice. I decided to have strawberries and cream which came in a large dish full of the most delicious sweet strawberries – not like the ones we eat in the UK.
Our teapots were refilled, and we were able to just sit and admire the view as we relaxed in convivial company. At no time were we made to feel that we should finish and go, despite the fact that it was nearly at the end of the afternoon, and we were able to spend as long as we wished sitting at the tables. In fact we were amazed when we realised that we had spent nearly two and a half hours in the tearoom.
Replete and fully relaxed we made our way outside and wandered about the hotel. There was a jazz band playing on the mezzanine above which all added to the ambience. We went up in the beautiful lift and gazed out over the water. We had had a wonderfully tranquil afternoon, one which we would remember as being peaceful and rejuvenating.
The cost of our tea was $19. 50, well worth it for such a delightful experience.
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