Destination Tea Notes: We have followed the progress of the afternoon tea service at this hotel since before it was the Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead (it was formerly Mandarin Oriental Atlanta). When we attended a Downton Abbey Tea at the new Waldorf in 2019, we were very happy with the setting and menu of the afternoon tea (excepting the French presses used to serve tea). After the hotel turned an open-air patio into its new Solarium (pictured below), we returned three times in pursuit of experiencing afternoon tea in the new space. Unfortunately, whether we reserved online, over the phone or via a Waldorf Astoria PR representative inviting us to see the new space, we were seated every time in a room across the hall instead. Likely a conference or banquet room, this space doesn’t have the character of Peacock Alley (where afternoon tea was formerly served), or the Solarium.
On our most recent visit for a winter holiday tea, we found the waitstaff, as ever, warm and welcoming. However, we feel strongly that the most expensive afternoon tea services should do everything excellently, and that was not our experience at the Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead. Scones were not scones (on some visits, instead they were giant (and also delicious) madeleines, and at the holiday tea they were scones in name only). What was listed as clotted cream was actually a chantilly cream. The limited tea selection we found to have several unavailable teas on multiple visits. At the holiday tea, simple white china teapots were used, which we were happy to see. On our previous visits, teas were served in French presses, which are both aesthetically inconsistent with a luxury tea, and from a practicality standpoint, messier than a teapot. On one visit, while pouring, the top popped off one of our French presses, spilling tea onto the table. We love when teas are properly brewed and presented decanted at the table, whereas the French press, even when compressed, allows teas to continue brewing, becoming bitter during the course of the meal.
This may feel like nitpicking, but the point is that with a few simple changes, this afternoon tea service could better merit the asking price.