Located in the lobby of the magnificent Palace Hotel Downtown, Al Bayt is what I would call a tea and coffee lounge as opposed to a coffee shop, be it a glorified one. Among other things al-Bayt is also home to the famous Palace Afternoon Tea which, believe it or not, I was there to try – OMG! Me, having afternoon tea? First things first, if you are going to have afternoon tea I would avoid having a big lunch or any lunch at all for that matter. Their afternoon tea is very much a meal in itself.
Allow me to start with the favourite part of my afternoon at al-Bayt, the service. It was nothing less than exemplary and deserving of a full five on its own. I have been to few places where the staff, all of them, made me feel so welcome, at home and pampered. Although they were friendly and suggestive (in what to order) they maintained a level of professionalism expected of such fine dining establishments but seldom delivered. And when I went back the following day, I was treated as nothing less than a returning regular – brilliant.
There are two variants of afternoon tea available, an English and an Arabic. We ordered both. Each comprises of a selection of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries, and of course a choice of the finest teas and coffees available. Order the Arabic if you want to sample a little local flavour and the English if…well, you want to stick with the original. There were so many items included in each 3-tier presentation, too many to list in this review yet Nyasha, the young lady who looked after us throughout the afternoon, named every one. Let me assure you though, that every single item put before us was exquisitely hand crafted and for the most part delicious too. Nyasha also helped us choose which tea to order. FYI, you can have as many and as much tea and coffee as you wish during afternoon teatime. I tried several and although not impressed with their Moroccan Mint, I feel in love with the subtly floral Red of Arabia.
I never thought I would sit through afternoon tea, thinking it so overtly girlie. I still think it’s too pinky-out, la di da for grease junkies like me but hey, it’s an experience. It’s actually something my wife and my teenage daughter would love and I have made a note to bring them here as soon as they are back in Dubai. But before that even, I may come back myself. Not for the afternoon tea maybe but certainly for the tranquil ambiance, their collection of amazing teas and most importantly, for their impeccable service. But now I’m going to find a big, fat, juicy burger to…rub all over myself.