Afternoon Tea For Four With Peacocks, Bagpipes & A Wedding
Prestonfield House – Edinburgh, Scotland
Afternoon Tea – Visited: May 2017
After a morning and early afternoon of walking in the steady drizzle through Edinburgh (including this priceless view from Princes Street Gardens up to Edinburgh Castle) …
… Tracy, Kim, Mary and me found ourselves in a minor dilemma (par for the course for these travelers). We did not have time to go back to our lodging to change from our soaking wet clothes into nicer attire for our date with Afternoon Tea at the luxurious and opulent Prestonfield House, located about a five minutes drive from Edinburgh’s city center. We were all also soaking wet. Oh well, there was nothing to be done at this juncture.
At a little before our appointed 3 p.m. tea time, our taxi pulled up to the palatial property of the 5-Star hotel and restaurant, Prestonfield House, situated in one of Edinburgh’s most historic buildings. Four dripping wet, woefully dressed individuals exited the taxi, where we were greeted by a few peacocks showing off their iridescent tail feathers. To say we felt a little underdressed would be quite the understatement.
Backtracking a bit, when we were in London the week before, in a moment of non-sobriety, a friend of ours made a call reserving dinner for one “Reverend Mai Tai and three guests.” When we shared the story of our drunken reservation with our hostess at our Edinburgh b&b, she suggested we might want to change the reservation to Afternoon Tea, since we might have to wash dishes to help pay for an expensive dinner at Prestonfield House.
Manicured lawns abounded …
… and inside the stunning, centuries-old estate we walked, attempting to not drip too much water on the floor. Fearing the hostess would think that a bunch of ragamuffins had descended upon their grand hotel, we apologized and tried to explain our appearance. She just laughed and said, “We don’t care. We hope you enjoy your experience.” And enjoy it we most certainly did. Walking through the corridors of this place, the interior spaces were astonishing.
Each room seemed more glamorous than the next.
We were seated on chairs and a couch in an incredibly beautiful area. Sitting across from us were three impeccably dressed women. They took time out from their tea to fill us in on the history of the manor built in the late 1600s. They also gave us a short Scottish monarchy history lesson.
We were encouraged by the staff to walk around and take photos, and when I returned to the couch a guy dressed in scruffy jeans walked into a nearby private room. Finally someone dressed a little worse than us. One of our servers said she believed it might be a prince from Jordan. I didn’t care if was Michael Jordan, I was happy we weren’t the only “shabby chic” customers.
Even the bathrooms were exquisite …
… as were the views out the bathroom window.
Oh, those floral arrangements …
For those of you who have never experienced an Afternoon Tea (this was my first), I will try to explain the orgy of food that was presented to our table for the next 90 minutes.
Tracy and I decided to go for the Champagne Tea option (£40 per person), while Kim and Mary opted for the “No” Champagne option (£30). I said, “Not a steep price for afternoon tea.” Tracy shot back, “Anymore puns like that, and you’ll be in hot water.” This is yet another reason why few people want to travel with us.
First up were sensational Haggis Balls (yes, “sensational”) and Palmiers with red onions. The Haggis contained a sensational spice that contributed to its “Wow” factor.
We were served our afternoon tea, and thankfully they offered a delicious decaf or our group wouldn’t have slept until the Isle of Skye a few days later.
It was then that the assembly line of food started arriving at our table. Finger sandwiches of egg, ham, cucumber and salmon. I barely had enough fingers to eat them.
Send in the Scones. There were plain scones and raisin scones complete with scrumptious raspberry jam and clotted cream. Speaking of clotted, by now so were my arteries.
About 25,000 calories into our meal, we started on our plethora of sweets. Before I dug in, I asked whether the manor included an ER facility.
Sweets included raspberry macarons filled with chocolate, white chocolate cake bites and cream puff and mini strawberry tartlets. Right in the middle of my second cream puff my belt snapped and flew across the room. We needed the tea and champagne to wash this all down. The amount of food we devoured would have fed half the population of Liechtenstein.
Amazingly, except for one tiny finger sandwich (sorry Mr. Cucumber), all the food was consumed by our foursome. Gluttony had been taken to the next level. “Where do you want to go for dinner?” I joked. Stuffed, we thanked our servers and made our way past more luxurious rooms …
… back outside to tour the immaculate grounds. Looking down the driveway, we realized we were smack dab in the middle of a wedding (not Pippa’s, however) … and I hadn’t even packed my Fascinator!
Two distinctive sounds seemed to be at odds with one another. A Piper (I do not know if his name was Peter) was playing the bagpipes as the couple strolled leisurely toward the mansion.
Meanwhile, a muster (yes, I had to look that up) of peacocks were singing along, making for quite a sound … and quite a sight. This was one place where we literally “passed the muster.” I believe the piper was giving this peacock “The Look.”
Many of the peacocks were already staking out their tables and chairs for the nuptials. Fortunately, the bride and groom did not seem in a fowl mood and no one’s feathers got ruffled.
These guys were getting a little impatient for the hors d’oeuvres.
I assumed this must be the best man practicing his speech. He was certainly loud enough to be heard in Glasgow.
For the next 20 minutes or so we walked around the grounds …
… trying to shed a modicum of all those calories.
No matter where we walked …
… each section of the garden was lush and gorgeous.
Prestonfield House’s greenery takes verdant to the next level. We spied the bagpiper as he tried to take solitude after an afternoon of competing with ear-piercing, but beautiful, peafowl.
Although you feel you are way out in the countryside, Prestonfield House is located less than ten minutes from Edinburgh’s city center.
If you’re ever afforded this opportunity, I suggest you give Afternoon Tea at Prestonfield House a couple of hours out of your journey.
Trust me, you won’t need dinner.
Edinburgh EH16 5UT
Daily: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
+44 131 225 7800
Champagne Afternoon Tea: £40.65
Afternoon Tea (no champagne): £30.65