Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Keane
Our first trip to the Charleston Place Hotel for afternoon tea was in December 2001. The whole tea experience, in our opinion, was quite lovely and done very traditionally. The tea selection was good and the savories, scones, and desserts were well presented on a three tiered serving piece and very tasty. We so enjoyed them that we again visited the tea room in May 2005. We had quite a different experience and were very disappointed. The tea service had been altered from its traditional form to serving the tea items in 'courses'. The sandwich fillings were so sparse that it seemed as if there was just enough of each to give the bread a bit of flavor. The scones, which had been the size of regular dinner biscuits on our first visit, were small, hard, dry 'things' that had no flavor to them. The desserts were the best part of this tea experience, but we have had better. Conversation was just about impossible because the piano player, sitting no more than 20 feet from us, was playing to the non-existent second balcony and was hardly the background music it should have been. Though there were few other diners in the tea room during our visit, we had to shout to try and converse! Our May 2005 visit was so disappointing that we will not re-visit the tea room during future visits to Charleston.
We were not actually able to get into the Country Thyme Tea Room. This was not due to them being completely booked, but due to the fact that when we called for reservations for afternoon tea for two, the owner rudely informed us that they 'wouldn't go to all that trouble for just two people'. She went on to inform us that she would only accept reservations for parties of five or more. Not only did she refuse to accept our reservations, but she was equally rude in responding to our inquiries of a typical afternoon tea provided at her tea room. When asked if the tea is patterned after a traditional British afternoon tea, we were brusquely told that they 'don't pattern ourselves after anyone. We do our own thing here'. With such treatment over the phone, we certainly cannot recommend anyone make the trip to be treated so in person. In fact, when told by others who have heard of the tea room and are contemplating visiting it, we relate our phone experience and suggest they go elsewhere.