Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House hotel, a beautiful country pile in rural Aberdeenshire, now offers a startling wonderful but simple idea – a Young Diner’s Afternoon Tea. Why isn’t every hotel doing this?
What makes this genius – apart from the cake – is that any hotel can claim to be ‘child friendly’, but by putting a ‘Young Diner’s Afternoon Tea’ on the menu, in black and white, you are going beyond the ‘child friendly’ platitude where they nibble from your plate. Ardoe is actively catering for the little terrors and this is terribly important to families because, as a parent, I am now confident in bringing my cherub with me and feeling welcome.
So I sat Mr Toddler down at home, stared him in the eye then explained to him that we were attempting our first mother and son date- little brother wasn’t coming, daddy wasn’t coming and nanny wasn’t coming- and this grand event was in training for when he’s older and it’s his turn to take his old mum out for mother’s day, the odd birthday, or maybe just because it’s Sunday and he loves her. Mr Toddler looked particularly disinterested in my pep talk but rallied at the promise of lunch.
And so we were off. Ardoe House could be a backdrop for a costume drama – the perfect setting to take tea (even with a rugrat). We were led through to the drawing room with its log fire, historical portraits and unblemished sofas and I had a slight panic – perhaps a toddler was too young for tea, what would he do to the furniture etc.? But to encourage other parents to just go forth and try things Mr Toddler somehow sensed this was special, check him out reading his book waiting for his order to arrive. I was blown away, though I did remove his shoes as a precaution.
Then he decided to take in the grounds with a jolly good look out of the window. To be fair in a building like this there’s a lot to look at, the fine art of distraction was relatively straightforward.
The service at Ardoe was quick enough for a child’s extremely limited window of patience, which as any parent knows means a great deal. Mr Toddler was offered a choice of ham or cheese sandwiches and a soft drink as part of his afternoon tea. Before long he had food in front of him.
But let’s cut to the chase cos I know you really just want to see photos of cake. Mr Toddler’s afternoon tea looked totally different to mine yet just as appealing. Yes, his was the child’s version but not in that naff chicken-nugget-second-class-citizen kind of way but in a yummy-celebrate-being-a-kid way.
He hoofed down the ham sandwiches. He sampled the hundreds and thousands bread pieces but was a little unsure, the ham were the favourites.
He loved the Chocolate Crackle Cake, and also the Strawberry Jelly with Ice-cream. I kindly helped him with the Ardoe Chocolate Shake (unexpected bonus for me) and the Strawberry Marshmallow Skewer, and we took the Smartie Cookie home with us for later.
Meanwhile I’d selected smoked salmon sandwiches and a plain scone with clotted cream and jam. I made short work of the Chocolate Brownie and Caramelised Passion Fruit Tart and took the other cakes home. Overall the pastries and sandwiches were fresh and light with a mix of flavours to tempt varied palates. Admittedly there was a lot of cake and sugar in front of us but that’s what I expect and wish from an afternoon tea – it’s a treat – but it was nice to see a little bit of fruit and milk incorporated into the child’s version. I also appreciated that the Young Diner’s Afternoon Tea was as beautifully presented on a cake stand as any adult version.
With Mother’s Day approaching an outing like this is a bit of a no-brainer. This experience was open to all ages, I can picture three or four generations sitting down together just sharing some time and cake together – never forget the cake.
Lastly, on a separate note, my pal passes on her older children’s toys to me when they’re finished with them- what she cynically refers to as the ‘never-ending plastic river of toys’. My point is that with so many toys in circulation having an experience with your child, or buying a voucher as a gift rather than another toy is a novel option.
Yes, of course I worried we would bother the other hotel residents if Mr Toddler kicked off but the staff were very welcoming and the only other guests who joined us in the drawing room were some renowned Scottish football players so I was relatively comfortable that they’d heard worse from the terraces than anything Mr Toddler could throw at them. He did shout ‘bye guys’ to them as we left and they graciously said goodbye back to him. So cake and sporting celebrities, that was one hell of an afternoon.
Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe Hotel is situated in thirty acres on grounds on the South Deeside Road, a short taxi ride from Aberdeen city centre and its train station.
Afternoon Tea is available from 12 noon till 6pm. The Classic Afternoon Tea is £19, the Chocolate Afternoon Tea is £21, the Gluten Free Afternoon Tea is £19 (and requires 24 hours notice) and it’s £12 for a Young Diner’s Afternoon Tea. If it’s a special occasion, or if you’re just in the mood for some bubbles, upgrade to a Champagne Afternoon Tea for an additional £9.50.
I opted for the Classic Afternoon Tea whereby you select between roast beef, smoked salmon and dill or egg sandwiches/a plain scone or a whisky soaked sultana scone/tea or coffee.
Often you have to order afternoon tea as a couple, but it’s no problem to order one adult afternoon tea and one young diner’s version.
[Tots2Travel were guests at Ardoe Hotel. Mr Toddler’s opinions are his own as, trust me, you can’t feed a toddler anything he doesn’t want to eat.]
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