The Mandolay in Guildford - On the Tea Shop Trail
- Credit: Various
This month, Louise Johncox pays a visit to Guildford’s four-star Mandolay Hotel, where they have recently introduced a special afternoon tea menu
The independently-owned, four-star Mandolay Hotel opened in 2006 and is managed by Matthew Milliken, an experienced and enthusiastic general manager. In recent months, they have introduced speciality afternoon teas.
“These have proved very popular,” says Matthew. “Our head chef, Thomas Kingston, a former Yorkshire Ridings Chef of the Year, has created just the right balance of afternoon tea delights.”
There are two afternoon tea packages – the traditional Mandolay Afternoon Tea, which comes with a choice of speciality teas (£17), and the Champagne Afternoon Tea, served with a glass of chilled Laurent Perrier Champagne (£26 per person).
I felt relaxed from the moment I stepped into this boutique-style hotel. The staff were welcoming and the atmosphere was relaxed with music playing in the background. The décor is modern and elegant – Osborne and Little wallpaper and photographic prints.
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There is an informal seating area in the bar while the restaurant offers the choice of banquette style, traditional tables or intimate booths. There are also two outside terrace seating areas – including the Laurent Perrier Champagne Terrace; perfect on a summer’s day.
“I like the idea of a hotel being an oasis; a place to relax and enjoy something a little out of the ordinary,” says Matthew.
I took my Mum, Frankie, and our round booth corner table was a perfect spot for afternoon tea, allowing privacy and comfort. There are about 40 tables to choose from, but I liked the corner spot, a perfect place to view the customers, a mix of locals and visitors.
“There is no best table as such, although the round booth is popular for groups of up to six people,” says Matthew. “Other popular seating options include the heated terraces and the bar, particularly when we have live jazz playing.”
On the menu…
Guests can enjoy everything from pastries in the morning to a varied lunch menu, afternoon tea and dinner.
We opted to share The Mandolay Afternoon Tea (£17), which includes a pot of tea and a selection of finger sandwiches (smoked salmon, egg, chicken, cucumber and cream cheese), scones, three varieties of tart (lemon, chocolate and strawberry), plus lemon cake and chocolate brownie.
The scones and tarts are a generous size, freshly made, with perfect crisp pastry. All the bread is made on the premises – and had that lovely home-made taste. The warm scones (plain or sultana) were accompanied by mixed berry jam and clotted cream – divine. The selection was beautifully displayed on a modern three-tiered stand with a strawberry dipped in sugar that went down well with some clotted cream.
When I apologised that we were unable to finish all the pastries, the waiter offered to give us the leftovers to take home.
At The Mandolay, we found relaxed elegant surroundings, attentive service and an indulgent afternoon tea. The home-made mixed berry jam on warm scones with Cornish clotted cream was a highlight. My advice is to skip lunch! If you are partial to a gin and tonic then The Mandolay has the most extensive gin menu in Guildford. That’s a good reason for a return visit or you can always try the Champagne Afternoon Tea with a spot of jazz if you’re there on the right day.
Need to know:
The Mandolay Hotel, London Road, Guildford GU1 2AE. Open Monday to Sunday. Tel: 01483 303030. Afternoon tea: 2-5pm. More @ guildford.com
Louise Johncox’s parents, Peter and Frankie, ran Peter’s tea shop in Weybridge from 1958 until 2000 when they retired. Louise has written a book about her parents’ tea shop, The Baker’s Daughter, which is out in all good bookshops now (see louisejohncox.com/index.htm)