Asia, Middle East, Trip Report

Al Bayt, a Tale of Two Afternoon Teas

It started with Anna.  In England. Said they, “Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner.”

Then it evolved.  From something to keep the hunger pang at bay to something cute and cozy to something super expensive and elegant and fancy, which includes the “High Tea”. Yeap.

Growing up, and even now, I (my family) am used to having tea in the afternoon for the very same reason as Anna did, to keep the hunger pang at bay between the long hours from lunch to dinner. But one day my eyes caught the three tiers of tray of goodies that is served for “afternoon tea” fare and I really loved what I saw on the internet. It was around 2008…and then finally, I got to have a chance to have that 3 tiers full of goodies on my birthday recently. Actually, scratch that. As I am typing I just remembered that my first “afternoon tea” experience was in 2010, but that was “High Tea” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The food was so darn mediocre that I totally forgot about it. I did have that at a nice place, but that experience is not the point of this post. So, I will let that go.

So, on my last trip to Dubai it happened to be my birthday. It’s not that I accidentally found out it was going to be my birthday at that time, I planned it around it. Birthdays should be celebrated, at least with good food if nothing else. There are myriad eating options in Dubai and it’s a public knowledge. I narrowed it down to type of meal I wanted to have, instead of “lunch” or “dinner”, how about “afternoon tea” the in between. I researched a lot and decided to have that experience at Al Bayt, Palace Downtown hotel  because a. there were good reviews (very important to me), b. they actually offer 2 options Traditional afternoon tea and Arabic afternoon tea. I LOVE middle eastern/Arabic food!!! It was a perfect choice for me. So, made a reservation online and answered yes to the question if this was for a special occasion. Done.

Then came the day. First impression was, wow! It’s in the Palace Downtown hotel, in the lobby area. Really pretty hotel, nice cozy lobby area. We were seated immediately and the spot that we got was perfect for our family. It was at the corner, lots of space, had a private-y vibe even though it was open space. Perfect. It’s actually the same spot they have the picture of on their site!  Eliana was jumping, dancing, having fun!

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Then the food came.

Welcome drink was provided, which was a nice date juice drink ( I believe). We ordered 2 order of Arabic afternoon teas. And when the three tiers tray came with the goodies, I went uh huh! Let’s try it.

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And then tried the food, scones were GREAT..but the Arabic food,  oh my gawwwwddddd….somebody wake me up from this….this can’t be true…because this was not what I envisioned my Arabic goodies were going to be….not on my birthday…..it just was bad, not tasty at.all. But you know what? It was my birthday, and I was really looking forward to it…my Arabic delights…so, while keeping my face straight I tried whatever it was on the tray. At least, the hummus was good! And Eliana actually ate it. Like all of it. But then…my supermarket in New York also has just as good  hummus…so?? Sooo, this was supposed to be REALLY GOOD. SUPPOSED TO BE. But it WASNOT. And inside I was screaming….have you ever seen this famous painting?? Inside I kind of felt like this.

(Photo credit: internet)

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While we were asking for the bill, the nice host let us know how they have “buffet” afternoon tea on Wednesday. I said, really? And thanked her for the information. I actually knew that already, but pretended it was news. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of coming back. After we paid the bill (Btw, we were two adults and one kid, child ate free and we had voucher for one paid one free, thanks to Entertainer voucher, which is a must for anyone wanting to travel to Dubai and keep budget afloat) and was about to take off, right before another host emerged with a sweet little birthday cake with a candle! Wow. They remembered. LOL actually, for the first time since tasting the food, I felt really good. I totally forgot about that little information I gave them while making reservation, so, it was such a genuine surprise for me and Eliana just LOVED it. She had so much fun blowing the candle and etc.

Reading a birthday note she wrote to me:

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As we walked out and marveled at the beauty of this elegant hotel and the grand tall Burj Khalifa lurking behind it for guests to take tons of pictures in the background, I had a thought. I wanted to give this afternoon tea another chance, something was amiss. I really wished I didn’t pick the Arabic one, may be I should have gone with the regular afternoon tea. It had good reviews. And I still had yet another set of voucher, so why not??

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Yes, made another reservation for a week later to experience the buffet version of regular afternoon tea without the Arabic and such, actually, I hoped they didn’t bring out any Arabic stuffs, clearly the person in charge of that was not doing a good job at it.

Week later, all dressed up for the afternoon tea, arrived at Al Byat again. And WOW. That place was elegant already now with the center table in the middle of large room in GORGEOUS purple, lilac flower arrangements it looked divine! It looked so elegant and fancy.

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A lady came on later and played cello, it was just so relaxing. And the main part of the afternoon..the food? Yes! It was GREAT!!! All the tasty little finger sandwiches, little savory pies, loved all the savory stuffs. And the desserts were just eye candies! We tried some, I don’t particularly like fruit based desserts, and there were a lot of those, I just stuck to my familiar chocolate desserts and creme bruele. YUM!

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It was such a different experience from week before! I really regretted picking the Arabic afternoon on my birthday, I should have picked the just regular afternoon tea, I am sure would have been great, at least judging from the second experience.

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If you are in Dubai, I do HIGLY recommend Al Byat’s afternoon tea (just don’t pick Arabic one) and if you happen to be on the day when they offer buffet afternoon tea (I believe, it’s still on Wednesday, but you can call up and ask before making reservation) then you are all set! You will enjoy it! It’s awesome!

Some last minute picture snapping on the way out!

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Did you have any afternoon tea experience? If so, how was it? Want to recommend one? Anywhere in the world 😉 Hope you enjoyed this review! And if you didn’t have any afternoon tea experience, hope this post inspire you to have one! 😉 ☕️ 🍮

Like this review, Pin it for later!

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(Photo credit: The British Library)

25 thoughts on “Al Bayt, a Tale of Two Afternoon Teas”

  1. Raised by Brit parents, yes, I am very used to afternoon tea. But for our family, it was more a tea and sandwich affair that then led to a very light dinner. On our recent Antarctica adventure, we had afternoon teas (scones and clotted cream with strawberry jam) every day on our ship … decadent and delicious!!! But oh my, full dinners followed only an hour or two later … a perfect way to tempt fate and eat our way to weight gain. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks like such a special birthday! How fun! I have not experienced tea time yet, but I want to. I just might have to when I go to London next month. Thank you for sharing. Xoxo, S

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow your photos and storytelling are brilliant, I laughed out loud. I have never been to a high tea, I am heading back to England next week.. I am feeling inspired to try it! Great post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I live in London, so afternoon tea here is really good. Looks like you and your little girl had a nice time. Never heard of this place, but will remember it for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s such a shame that your birthday treat wasn’t as expected. It’s strange for the arabic food not to be good, especially in Dubai. I’m glad though that you gave it another chance and that the second time it was so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Afternoon tea has become such a thing in Dubai that even I went to try one with my friends. It was also one place on Downtown Dubai though I am not sure if it was the same one or different, its been a while since I went. I had no idea though that they have an option of doing an Arabic afternoon tea! I would also prefer my afternoon tea with scones rather than hummus, lol. I am happy that you went back and tried the regular afternoon tea, and that you finally had a great experience, even if it wasn’t on the same day as your birthday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel so glad that you have loved the experience that you just wanted to try out. The way you have introduced of how you ended up in Al Bayt was really interesting to read. Loved the pictures too. Great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That was a nice history of the afternoon tea being introduced in England! Loved reading your experience about the two afternoon teas, happy that you finally liked the second one. The little one looks so cute in the pictures. She seems to have enjoyed both the teas!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My friends and I LOVE going for afternoon tea! This one looks gorgeous, what a lovely treat for you all 🙂 if you’re a fan of cats, and you’re ever in London, I 100% recommend the afternoon tea at Lady Dinah’s cat cafe, it’s so much fun with all the kitties running around everywhere x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The flower arrangement at the Buffet tea looks gorgeous, gives the whole place a pretty feel. Glad you tried the afternoon the second time and enjoyed it. Afternoon teas are incomplete without the scones :). Thanks for sharing the interesting detail on the history of afternoon tea.

    Liked by 1 person

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