I’m not sure if it is politically correct to call yourself a ‘Girlie Girl’ these days, but I have to confess I have always kinda loved Barbie and her fabulous pink style. I also adore afternoon tea, I mean what is not to love about eating miniature sweet and savoury goodies, while quaffing champagne. So when I heard that the JW Marriott was bringing these two things together, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.
The afternoon tea is officially called the Salon de Ddalki with Barbie, in honour of the beautiful strawberries that Korea produces during the winter time. To be honest it has always been a mystery to me how Korea can grow the sweetest and juiciest strawberries I have ever tasted in the sub zero temperatures of winter, but if that is not a reason to feature them in their own afternoon tea, then I don’t know what is. The afternoon tea, which is running until May, has two seatings on weekdays 1:30pm – 3:30pm, and 4pm-6pm, and a third on weekends from 11am-1pm. The weekday buffet is priced at 55,000 per person, and the weekend buffet at 59,0000 per person.
The Lounge is located on the ground floor and feels very luxurious. It is scattered with comfy tables and sofas and is adorned with Barbie cushions and pictures. The floor to ceiling windows also bring in lots of light, and each table also gets its very own barbie doll to play with! One word of advice, get there the minute it opens to enjoy your full money’s worth. The person I made a reservation with told me the wrong time meaning we were rushed throughout the tea and didn’t get time to enjoy everything that we wanted.
Once seated you will be asked to sit down and choose a beverage from the menu. Most people around us were drinking the strawberry shakes or cocktails ( I did not check to see if they contained alcohol) but I couldn’t resist a glass of Pink Sparkling Wine. Then we were asked to choose a main dish. Since I have been continuously disappointed with fish and chips in Seoul I decided just to opt for the Pink Barbie Chicken Burger. I was really looking forward to this as I was really hungry. The chicken burger itself was fine, although not really much of a step above anything you would find at a fast food restaurant. The only thing that made it Barbie themed was the pink bun. My chips were also under cooked, which there really isn’t any reason for. I think in retrospect the noodles were probably the best savoury option in my opinion.
There were 13 different kinds of desserts on the buffet which seemed more than enough. We tried most of the desserts over the course of the afternoon. To me the standouts where the choux buns and the white chocolate macarons. There was also a large trifle in a bowl that was fabulous along with the fresh strawberries. Most of the other items like the chocolate mousse etc. were pleasant enough, although there were a few that really seemed to miss the mark like the chocolate cupcakes with a pink artificial and bland whipped style frosting on top. As well as the sweet options there were four savoury canapes in the form of topped toasts, including egg, salmon, pumpkin and chicken. There was nothing all that special about these, in fact I would imagine a big ritzy hotel like this could do better, but at least there was something savoury to give you a bit of respite.
Towards the end of our afternoon, we were offered our choice of Tea or Coffee. The tea choices were very limited, and in the end I chose an English breakfast, which was very watery and practically flavourless once I had added my milk. I think the coffee options looked like the better bet in all honesty, and this part of the Afternoon tea seemed a bit like an afterthought.
Overall despite my slightly harsher than normal criticism I did enjoy my afternoon. However compared to afternoon teas I have had in similar hotels around the world it was certainly lacking. To be honest I find Seoul afternoon teas are generally almost always a case of style over substance. However I loved the theme, and there was plenty to eat. If you are an afternoon tea aficionado then you may be disappointed with the food slightly, but if you are looking for somewhere to have a fun afternoon with friends you will walk away happy.
JW Mariott is located at 279 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Dongdaemun Station (line 1 &4) and come out of exit 8. You will see the hotel ahead of you as soon as you come out of the exit. The Afternoon Tea is held in the Lobby Lounge on the ground floor. For more information you can check out their website. The Afternoon Tea is available until May.