Okay, don't get me wrong:

I. Love. Coffee.

Like, a lot. An unhealthy amount. But simply getting coffee does not equate to the classy, relaxing activity of afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is an event in its own right.

While visiting Dublin, Ireland with my family a few years ago, we decided to experience afternoon tea at our hotel, The Shelbourne. It was so wonderful, we decided to make it a focal point of our most recent trip this past August.

The Shelbourne Hotel

Located across the street from the beautiful St. Stephen's Green and a quick two blocks from the renowned Grafton Street, The Shelbourne is steeped in history. But its claim to fame is more than just its location. The hotel was established in 1824 and quickly became a corner stone for the social lives of Dublin's upper class.

During the Easter Rebellion of 1916, British troops garrisoned the front of the hotel as Irish republicans were stationed across the street on the Green. As fighting continued through the Easter week, The Shelbourne maintained operations with a skeleton staff, moved afternoon tea from the front Drawing Room to the rear Horseshoe Bar, and began to take in the wounded, regardless of where their allegiance lied.

A few years later, as the Irish continued to fight for their independence, The Shelbourne was host to another significant historical event. From January to May 1922, The Irish Constitution Committee meet and drafted the Irish Constitution in room 112, now renamed The Constitution Room. 

Tea Time

Maybe because the hotel is steeped (haha - get it?!) in history, their daily afternoon tea seems to me to be even more elegant than one might expect. Tea is served in the Lord Mayor's Lounge at varying times throughout the afternoon and evening. 

The Classic Afternoon Tea menu offers four sandwiches, a selection of desserts, and the most delicious scones I've ever had in my life. Teas are chosen from a wide selection which showcases many different varieties and distinct variations of flavors. There are no limits to the amount of teas you can try, so feel free to sip on everything from Anhui to Yunnan. For an additional price, you can add on the Champagne Afternoon Tea, which includes bottomless flutes of bubbles.

Though there are standard menus and options, allergies can usually be accommodated if notified when the reservation is made. 

My Experience

Sarah Daugherty

My first afternoon tea at The Shelbourne was an impromptu add on to our family vacation. We were only in Dublin for a few days and had a short window of time one afternoon which needed to be filled. When I found out the hotel offered a luxurious afternoon tea, I begged my parents to make a reservation. 

Fortunately, they agreed and we sat down for an experience I would never forget. We were treated to smoked salmon, cheeses, and chicken and avocado open sandwiches, as well as scones, cakes, and pastries. I had the most delicious white tea and was treated with the kindest service.

This past summer, my experience was even better. Since my first visit in 2015, I have become a vegetarian, so I was very concerned about what foods I would be able to eat at afternoon tea. Even though I expected to only be able to nosh on some scones and tea (which I really would have been good with anyway) my expectations were surpassed.

Sarah Daugherty

Specially for me, they prepared avocado, beet, and tomato  open face sandwiches as well as a selection of vegetarian desserts including elderflower and rhubarb panna cotta and a poppy seed cake. However, the best of all was chocolate cake and mousse:

Sarah Daugherty

The food paired wonderfully with my choice of green tea and made for an all around exceptional experience—one I'd 10/10 recommend to anyone. Everything, from the teas, drinks, sandwiches, desserts, and most importantly, the service, works together to provide the best possible experience. I love having afternoon tea at The Shelbourne and I can't wait until my next opportunity to have the fanciest afternoon tea in Dublin.