Afternoon Tea at the Amstel Intercontinental Hotel Amsterdam
What’s a girl to do when she is invited by a fine young gentleman to an afternoon of high tea and high society at one of the world’s most prestigious hotels? She accepts and puts on her best tea party dress!
It was a cold winter’s afternoon and the snow was falling in Amsterdam as we rode our bikes through the thick of it and then parked outside the Amstel. Upon taking a glance up at the historical building dating back to the 1800’s (and be sure to flick through the pictures) I was in love. Not only did it resemble those quaint little canal houses of the city on a larger scale, the snowfall and the bare tree branches made it look like something out of a movie.
After entering the hotel and being in awe of the old fashioned decors, we were led to a very naturally-lit space: the Amstel Bar and Brasserie which instantly felt very cosy, especially given the cooler temperatures outside. We were greeted ever-so-high-society-like, with formal hand-shakes and our coats were taken away to the cloak room.
Elegant antique chairs
As our host led us through the room, I looked across at the seats by the window overlooking the Amstel River and the beautiful snowfall. I was hoping that the window views with the ‘reserved’ sign on the table were ours and, they were!
The views were also like a scene from a white Christmas movie and so too were the elegant antique chairs with beautiful embossing and century-old polished timber trimmings. I had met my match: the kind young gentleman also.
Seated, I started to take in the views of the room: it was filled with well-suited and booted gentlemen and highly maintained ladies who were in no rush to be done with their tea. Elaborate chandeliers complimented the natural light, and not because they were lit but their colour fit in with the ambience of the room.
Lamps, which looked like they’d been sourced from a very exotic location were stationed at various antique hardwood tables, whilst the medieval-looking candle arrangements posted on the walls lit the room even further. I was also taken by the subtle and perfect scent of fresh flower arrangements which filled the room.
My observations were soon interrupted by our very own tea hostess who initiated proceedings by informing us about the Japan Original Genmaicha Tea, a “traditional green tea from the country of the rising sun. A tea with a specific greenish flavour, in combination with a full round taste and rice”.
Our hostess proceeded to explain that she would come and visit us with a different tea at regular intervals as she poured the tea from the shiny silver teapot so elegantly. As I sipped the Japan Original Genmaicha I was taken by the full-bodied taste and originality of the tea.
I then turned my attention to the china: Villeroy and Boch and it carried a beautiful design of butterflies and flowers: to die for!
Next up: an elaborate and somewhat rustic tray on a stand was then brought in and flourished with a wonderful selection of spritz cookies, biscuits, scones, pastries, chocolates, unusual cakes, and to my surprise, a stand-up circular loaf of bread that had been hollowed out and filled with a selection of delectable sandwiches to include egg salad with watercress, smoked chicken, smoked salmon, and cucumber, and being the vegequarian (I eat fish but no other meat) that I am I had all the salmon, cucumber, and egg sandwiches, which were very crisp and fresh and left a very distinct taste in my mouth. The scones were both vanilla and lemon flavoured and were accompanied by yellow clotted cream and in one word, were: yummy!
Teas included China Lung Ching, and Amstel Luxury Tong-Ting Oolong, and the Darjeeling Summer Flush, which originated from the North India/Nepal border, straight from the slopes of the Himalayas to be precise. It was described as a “mild tea with a refined musk flavour, and referred to as the Champagne of teas”. I can’t say I’ve ever tasted anything quite like it and realised this wasn’t just a high tea, it was also a journey of tea flavours throughout the world.
As we realised we’d finished all the delicacies and that there were no more teas to enjoy we fell back into our chairs and continued to enjoy the last drops of our final tea, savouring every moment.
The service at the Amstel fit its facade, history, and interiors. It was a truly unique experience and one that I will be going back for time and again.
High Tea at the Amstel Intercontinental Hotel is available every day of the week from 12pm until 6pm and they have packages starting from 35 euros.
Stay tuned for the next high tea at the very posh Windsor Hotel in Melbourne and also a history on high teas.