Not unlike the bearded wizard from Slade, I make no apologies for screeching It’s Christmasssssss as soon as mid-November hits, and decked out in my finest festive furs ascending the steps to The Westin’s Atrium Lounge, that is exactly what played in my head as peak Christmas hit me.
Twinkling fairy-light dotted garlands and holly laden wreathes greet me and my inner Elf comes to life, but the piéce de resistance has to be seen to be believed. Rising from the centre of the six storey high lounge, All I Want for Christmas was right there before me – a Perrier-Jouet Tree. Custom made and a work of art in itself, this sight to behold has taken up residence here for the next three months and makes The Atrium an unmissable Christmas hotspot.
There could scarcely be a more perfectly located luxury shelter from the Christmas shopping storm and manic present grabbers scrambling both Grafton and O’Connell Street. Wide-eyed and enthralled, we quickly forget the hectic world outside as we are shown to our cosy corner couch and eased into our late afternoon treat with a glass of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut.
Mirroring the enchanted tree, our Champagne flutes are emblazoned with wandering roots and Beauty and the Beast like florals and can even be hand plucked from the tree, like a bespoke bauble for your bubbly. Light and zesty with subtle caramel and vanilla notes, this iconic Champagne proved to be the perfect companion for high tea.
Twinkling lights, jazzy classics playing and roaring fireplaces evoke old New York glamour and the luxurious feel you expect from the five star Westin. With the arrival of two towers of treats it was difficult not to feel like the most wonderful time of the year was upon us.
Kicking off proceedings with an Irish Christmas classic, albeit more elegant than the ones we whip up on St. Stephen’s Day, Turkey with Cranberry Relish Mayo finger sandwiches went down a treat. Canapé-like and evocative of all of those Yuletide soirées we have to look forward to, a mini Brown Scone topped with Smoked Salmon, Sour Cream and Chives was also a delightful bite.
I took note of the tasty veggie option, Spinach Tortilla with Roasted Red Peppers, Cream Cheese and Fig Jam, a colourful pinwheel party bite I will likely emulate at home – a beautiful companion to a glass of bubbles. Further savoury treats came in the form of a generous Brioche with Egg Mayonnaise and classic yet crave-worthy Beef with Red Onion Marmalade Horseradish Mayo.
Moving swiftly to the sweeter side of things, the first Stollen of the season certainly did not disappoint and was a welcome partner to a not so traditional Pecan and Cranberry Scone. Laced with dried fruit, spiced apple and snowy-topped with icing sugar, I loved the ample stream of marzipan within so much that Grinch-like, I stole Rachel’s.
In a nod to the winter spiced flavours we all crave come this time of year, a Pecan and Cranberry Scone was a delicious twist on a classic, and the excuse that it is Christmas justified lashings of clotted cream.
A shot of Eggnog Panna Cotta was scented with a subtle hint of Advocat, with a mulled wine-esque compote to cut through the rich creaminess. After Champagne, macarons are top of the list of my Franco favourites and I loved nibbling on an Iced Lemon Macaron while sipping Perrier-Jouet – festive and fabulous in equal measure.
Chocolate holly leaves and candy canes add whimsical festive cheer to a Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Torte, layered, luscious and Nutella-like, while a square of rich Christmas cake was a nod to tradition and perfect with a cup of tea. Mini Frangipane Mince Pies were the perfect size for high tea and pleasantly almond-spiked, toasty and buttery.
Finally, two bespoke Christmas chocolates, a Truffle Snowman and White Raspberry Perrier Jouet Champagne Truffle were the perfect way to finish a wonderful afternoon and dainty enough to permit yet more shopping afterwards without the fear of a sugar coma.
That said, the shops were long closed once we managed to tear ourselves away from our luxurious cocoon of Christmas and Champagne in The Atrium and darkness had fallen, making the grand space all the more alluring with the shimmer of golden lights. If there is a better spot to luxuriate in festive fashion, I have yet to find it.
This enchanting Afternoon Tea experience is priced at €58pp including a glass of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, €60 with a glass of Blason Rosé or €42 without Champagne.
The Atrium Lounge
The Westin Dublin
T: +353 (0)1 645 1000
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show or RTE Today. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me on my pursuit of deliciousness.