A couple of years ago, I booked the Bellagio’s Afternoon Tea at the Petrossian for the first time. I was looking for an atypical activity from what people consider a “Vegas experience,” and afternoon tea fit the bill nicely. I went with the Bellagio’s because I’m more familiar with that property. But during my research, I heard very good things about the Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental, too. I promised myself that some day, I would try that one for comparison purposes. Some day finally came in June of this year.
The day of my appointment also coincided with the worst day of my head cold. That morning, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to put away as much food as is served in the Classic English Afternoon Tea (sandwiches, pastries and scones). So I phoned them to see if that was going to be a problem for them. They were very accommodating and reassured me that I could just have regular tea and order whatever plate I wanted.
Now all I had to do was find the place. I’ve been back and forth along that section of the Strip (between Monte Carlo, Aria, CityCenter and the Cosmopolitan) many times, but I had never actually laid eyes on the Mandarin Oriental. (You can tell it’s a pretty exclusive hotel when they make it hard for pedestrians to easily stumble across it.) I knew it was there somewhere, but where? I had to map my route from the Monte Carlo to the Mandarin Oriental on Google. Once I did that, it was easy to find.
I arrived just before 1pm, so I waited around in the lobby, which is right next to the Tea Lounge. The lounge itself is not large, but had a good amount of (comfortable) seating, I thought. The decor is very tasteful and lovely, with glass-topped tables, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and gorgeous artwork on the walls. Very classy.
The servers were dressed in traditional red Asian dresses. They had the best personalities for running a tea lounge–very calm, unruffled, nurturing. My waitress, Jingle, did everything to make the experience relaxing and peaceful for me. She never rushed me. I felt very well-cared for.
One o’clock turned out to be a great time to schedule tea. There were very few of us there in the beginning. As time went on, more and more parties showed up. One party had around 6-8 people. As far as I could tell, I was the only solo. But it didn’t bother me.
When I made my reservation, I had requested a window seat. Since I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I at least wanted something to look at. What a view I had!
For food, I ordered the sandwich plate. “Sandwich” is a bit of a misnomer. The only traditional finger sandwich served is the black forest ham. The other three items on the plate are wildly creative and artistic offerings: Smoked salmon and cucumber with watercress spread; a creamy deviled egg in a shell with paleta iberico and lavash; and a goat cheese tartlet with apricot jelly, dried fruits and spice bread crisp.
I had a momentary flash of panic when I saw this food; I wondered how to eat it without looking like a backwoods hick. Then I realized I was too sick to care what people thought. It was all delicious.
Being sick, I especially appreciated their menu section dedicated to teas that are for health and wellness. I’m sure any tea at all would have been temporarily soothing to me at that point, but they actually offer a Cold & Flu Blend tea that I ordered. The description for it is:
Boneset, hyssop, yarrow and elderflowers are blended with peppermint, ginger root,
lemongrass, lemon peel and thyme for an infusion that eases aches and pains, congestion, lowers fever, and helps make you feel better.
Oh yes it does.
Jingle brought me an entire pot of it. It smelled lovely and tasted divine. Normally I’ll have one or two cups of tea at most. I drank almost the entire pot. (Conveniently, the restrooms are right across from the tea lounge.) Unfortunately, the restorative powers of the Cold and Flu Blend tea didn’t last more than an hour after I left, but it was very nice while it did last.
Remember how much I loved the Petrossian Tea experience? Well, in terms of quality, the Mandarin’s Tea experience is so much better. I can definitely see where some people might prefer the more traditional sandwich plate offered by the Petrossian, though.
The other drawback here is that the Tea Lounge is right next to the lobby check-in desk. There are thin walls between the two, but nothing that is a noise barrier. There were some rambunctious kids at the check-in desk while I was in the lounge, so it was a bit loud. That said, it’s not nearly as loud as the Petrossian, which is just off both the crowded lobby and the casino floor. Also, there is no cigarette smoke here. Bonus points for that.
All in all, it was a heavenly experience, made more so by the views of Las Vegas from the Lounge. Having tea here was almost as relaxing as a massage. This place gets five stars from me.
What you need to know
- Hours: Tea is served daily between 1pm and 5pm.
- Cost for Classic Afternoon Tea (which includes tea, sandwiches, pastries and scones): $36
- Reservations: Can be made via phone (see their website) or OpenTable.com.
Walking Directions to the Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge
When coming from the South Strip: Walk past CVS Pharmacy and Bobby’s Burger Palace on the Las Vegas Blvd. Turn the corner to the left onto City Center Place just past Starbucks and instead of going up the escalators/stairs to the pedestrian overpass to cross the street, walk around them to the right.
There, you’ll see a set of stairs leading down to the valet entrance of the Mandarin.
Inside that entrance, the elevators are on the right. Take the elevator to the “Sky Lobby” which is on the 23rd floor. Voila! You’re there.
From the North Strip: Go through City Center and cross City Center Place on the overpass. At the foot of the escalators, turn right and walk behind the escalator. From there, just follow the same directions as above.