At the end of last month, I booked us a table for afternoon tea at Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield. I had seen good reviews, and I liked the 1920s art deco theme of the main room, so I decided to give it a try. Sometimes, I find a lovely venue and have a fantastic experience; other times, I don't. I have to say that the review of this is the latter type of experience. I am writing about it anyway because I think that it's important to keep my posts genuine and based on my own experience. I was not paid to visit. I paid for two afternoon teas, booked two months in advance, and this is my experience.
Crazy Bear is a brand of hotel-resort with a handful of locations in London, Oxford, and Beaconsfield (just west outside of London). I visited the Beaconsfield location, which was only about a thirty minute drive from where I live and in a beautiful town that I'd not visited before. There's not much parking but we parked down the hill outside of town, and it was only a couple of minutes to walk to the hotel.
Impressions are made upon entering and the interaction of people you see and meet. Upon entering, the place felt chaotic. A lot of well-dressed people were wandering in and out of the hotel. The atmosphere and visitors and staff seemed a little pretentious. It actually felt like a place where you'd see WAGS (wifes and girlfriends of footballers) and fake people who may or may not be from a stereotypical Essex. We were not greeted. We had to ask where to go.
Okay, second mistake after the lack of greeting. The staff member led us downstairs into a dark room that is the Thai restaurant in the evening. Low ceilings and only one other lonely couple were seated down here, and the atmosphere felt horrible and out of the way. Not only that, but I'd particularly booked a space in the nice room upstairs. This is why I had to wait two months. After finding the staff member to discuss, we were finally seated upstairs. Also note that during our visit, not all seats were taken. Half of the room was empty.
Leather couches, silver tables and chandeliers, and exotic animals adorned the space around us. The exotic animals (which included zebra, giraffe, parrots, black bear, and antelope) on the walls were real and not replicas, and I have to say I'm not a big fan of taxidermy or putting these on display because there's been too many stories recently where wealthy people go on safari and hunt animals for sport. I know none of these exotic animals are endangered, but I've personally never liked seeing taxidermy. Despite the animal heads (for moral reasons), I cannot fault the interior design.
There were also parrots and a black bear with a beautiful chandelier and skylights.
And silver chintz was everywhere, including the acrobat below which doubled as a candle-holder.
We received our champagne first. It tasted a bit warm, unfortunately. It was served out of a bucket with other champagnes, and I assume that there was ice in the bucket, but the champagne tasted room temperature. Champagne doesn't taste very good to me unless it's ice-cold.
We then received our teas while we waited and waited for our sandwiches due to dietery requirements. Eventually, were then told that they were too busy to cater for our requirements. When I say eventually, this was over thirty minutes of waiting. I'd informed them well in advance (two months ago) when I had booked, and I'd informed them of the requirements so that they could prepare in advance. They failed to do so.
Our tea was not too bad, and it was presented well.
We ate our scones, which came with clotted cream and strawberry jam. These did not taste fresh.
Last up were the pastries. We received different flavours, including a mango and cheesecake, a lemon meringue, fruit tart, cupcake, fruit cake, and carrot cake. The cupcake was too sweet and rich, and the carrot cake and fruit cake was too dry, so most of these were left behind. The others did taste good.
After waiting so long for the staff to return, we got more annoyed. I needed my tea refilled with hot water, but that never happened. Then, we waited for the bill, and that never happened. I had paid up front, so we decided to just leave. On the way out, no one stopped us or wished us well, even though we walked by a number of staff.
I cannot recommend this venue because the staff were not interested and not helpful, and we did not feel like our custom was wanted. The food and drink was not great, and they would not cater to our needs, which were explained at the time of booking. Overall, I did not care for the pretentious atmosphere of the place either. I will not be returning to Crazy Bear venues.