afternoon tea


I’ll start with a fall.

To the Hotel Manager, Burley Manor Hotel…

Regarding our afternoon tea on Saturday 8 March, purchased on Groupon

Dear Sir,

Having visited your hotel recently, I am setting out the details of our extremely disappointing experience.

We booked an afternoon tea for four at The Burley Manor Hotel through Groupon. This was purchased as a friend’s birthday treat. We were very much looking forward to it.

Although bought for four, only three of us could attend on the day.  The birthday girl called up in advance and booked our afternoon tea. The lady on the phone confirmed that we could enjoy our tea on Saturday 8th March. She also informed Jenny that there would be a wedding taking place at the hotel that day and could we arrive at 2.30 to stagger events. She also added that we may need to be seated somewhere away from the guests. We all agreed this wasn’t a problem.


When we arrived on the Saturday, we were placed in a room I could only describe as the ‘drawing room’. This room was laid up for about 40 guests. Although a pleasant room, there was no music and no atmosphere at all. Would you be comfortable with this scenario for a special afternoon tea with your close friends? We felt as if we had to whisper, and as for the wedding party, there was no sign of anyone until about 3pm and there were very few members of the party; we could have settled in the lounge area and would not have been in the way at all.

The employee (Was she the duty manager? She had no badge) asked if we would like tea or coffee. We ordered two teas and a coffee and handed her our voucher from Groupon. There was no mention of the booking that was for four instead of three.  Perhaps an offer of something extra or even money off another visit would suffice and be polite?

The same employee brought in our glasses of bubbly (not Champagne) and proceeded to not only take ages to bring our hot drinks but also the tea (I’m not concerned about the coffee) was served in steel industrial pots. I would expect for the amount of money that you are charging at The Burley Manor that the tea should be served in a china teapot.

The food then came out – again no sign of enough for the fourth that we actually paid for – which looked rather sparse on the cake tiers.

The scones were clearly purchased from a supermarket and not even warmed up. I was disgusted. The sandwiches were merely very standard. Do you feel that cheese and pickle, egg mayonnaise and ham are suitable for the class of afternoon tea consumers you are trying to attract?

The cake (usually the ‘icing on the cake’ of afternoon teas – excuse the pun) was an extremely cheap looking, again supermarket purchased carrot cake served in three measly small pieces. In fact we looked it up on the internet, and it seems to look exactly the same as the Tesco carrot cake (on sale for £1.95). Would you not expect a homemade cake at least?

The jam – oh yes the jam – was clear, cheap jam from an industrial tub (I know this as I used to work in the hotel industry) and was not even chopped up to make it presentable in any way. Laughable!

I am a freelance journalist and writer and often review restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars in and around Dorset and Hampshire.

I am extremely disappointed with the service and products offered at The Burley Manor and unfortunately will be telling others in order that they do not have to endure the type of awful ‘treat’ that were so looking forward to. The hotel ruined our day, Sir, and if it weren’t for the fact that it was my friend’s birthday, I would have created a scene there and then.

I would appreciate some form of explanation for this awful experience and look forward to your comments.


Alix King

Freelance Journalist.