Afternoon Tea

CLIVEDEN HOUSE - The Best Hotel in England 2015/2016 Voted by the AA

Cliveden is a majestic stately home in the heart of the Berkshire countryside. It has been entertaining guests for the past 350 years, including royalty, politicians and celebrities. Having been a hotel for nearly 30 years its most recent award is the highly acclaimed recognition of ‘Best Hotel in England’ by the AA.

Cliveden is like no other five star luxury hotel. Being a Grade I listed building, owned by the National Trust and managed by a fine hotel company, guests at Cliveden are treated more like a ‘house guest’ rather than a ‘hotel client.’

Bearing this in mind, the Great Hall, where the delights of afternoon tea is served, it feels like you are being entertained by a very wealthy host in their drawing room.

The wood panelled room with rich, bright coloured furnishings has many historic features and artefacts which can be admired whilst sipping your tea. Three colossal tapestries adorn the main wall, the stone chimney place at the far end dates back to the 15th century and magnificent oil paintings of past owners are placed around the property.

Valrhona is a french premium chocolate used exclusively in high-end establishments and Head Pasrty Chef Tracey Stewart has created some amazing delights for this bespoke afternoon tea.

The three tier silver tea stand is brought to the table with the scones nice and warm! Best to start with these crisp scones served with homemade jam and Devonshire clotted cream.

Served in bespoke fine bone china, the tea set has the original ribbon design, commissioned for Lady Astor, the last mistress of Cliveden. The teapots are kept on a side table to free space on the table and is topped up for you periodically. A good selection of thirteen teas, the best of all colours, black, green, white and herbal. For a strong flavour, try the Cliveden blend and at the other extreme a light, delicate tea is the White Pai Mu Tan, perfect with the rich chocolate treats.

The sandwiches have the traditional fillings each with a twist, so there’s ham and mustard with cream cheese, coronation chicken with lettuce, cucumber with crème fraiche and radish and salmon rillets with lemon and dill. In addition to the sandwiches two savoury extras are given, a warm sausage roll and a mini quiche tart which were all delicious.

Now for chocolate heaven! With a delightful collection of six treats ranging from milk, white to dark, I would recommend save the dark ones to last as it has the deeper, richer flavours. Chocolate roulade is a swiss roll with a crispy surface and gold sprinkles, white chocolate raspberry tartlet was deliciously crisp, white chocolate cheesecake was my favourite, with a fine crisp base and a white chocolate truffle on top, yum! For the dark collection, the two layered jaffa cakes was quirky, a mint chocolate tartlet which has a very smooth texture again with a crisp base and finally a rich tiramisu cup. The sizes of all these treats are larger than average and by all means do get these packed if you cannot manage to indulge in them at your sitting.

The best chocolate afternoon tea at the best hotel in England! Be at part of history. Imagine Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin have both been in this very same room.

Being a part of the National Trust, a minimal contribution is applied to the final bill. This can be appreciated when a walk is taken in the formal gardens and parterre at the back of the mansion. With 376 acres, the Cliveden estate is beautifully maintained and best to have a ‘long’ stroll around after the marvellous indulgence of the Valrhona tea!

5th View Bar & Food

Found on the top floor of Waterstones, the largest bookstore in Europe, in Piccadilly. This recently refurbished venue has fabulous views over London’s rooftops. Open daily, it is a convenient location in the West End for cream tea. The quirky options are at very, very reasonable prices, considering its central London location. A definite must visit.

Bond and Brook

This fashionable restaurant and bar is found in Fenwick department store on Bond Street. A nice airy space to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea amongst the woman’s luxury fashion brands. Various fashion magazines and books adorn a quirky display at the front of the restaurant. The festive afternoon tea has a good selection of festive sandwiches, buttermilk scones and quirky couture cakes. The clementine and mulled wine mousse shot was my favourite!

Camellia's Tea House

A quirky tearoom hidden away from the hustle and bustle of London's busy shopping district. Found on the 2nd floor of Kingly Court in quirky Carnaby, it has a vast selection of 100 different blends of tea. A great place to sit back, relax and take in the beautiful aromas of the original tea blends. Various teas can be bought, tea artefacts and quriky teapots too.

Houses of Parliament

 

Fancy having afternoon tea in the infamous Palace of Westminster (aka Houses of Parliament). A unique, quirky, opportunity to sit in the historically, lavish Pugin Room in the House of Commons, which overlooks the River Thames. Tea includes the traditional format of sandwiches, bagels, infamous scones with clotted cream and sweet delicacies.

Lord's Cricket Ground

Traditional afternoon tea can be taken in the iconic Long Room within the Pavillion at Lord’s, the home of cricket. With panoramic views of the cricket ground, a guided tour of both the Pavillion and the MCC Museum, included in the price, any die-hard cricket fan would truly enjoy this experience.

Mandarin Oriental  - Rosebery

The Rosebery depicts a garden theme with the stunning grand peacock,furnishings and delicate lighting. The afternoon tea crockery is of a bespoke design with birds and butterflies. In the 1920s, this very room was a stylish tea room, and now its exquisite décor enhances the rooms Victorian origins. The height of the room allows for plenty of natural light to  come in from the large bay windows.

The quirky tea-stand has two tiers and is hung on a metal tree overhanging the table. Very unique and apt for this garden themed room.Sandwiches are uniquely rolled up, as opposed to boring rectangles and filled with exquisite fillings, such as cured ham and tomatoes and cute brioche of crab and crayfish. Servings are small due to limitations of the design.

Do ask for more if you so desire.

The scones are brought to your table deliciously warm. Accompanied by homemade strawberry jam, rose petal jelly, lemon curd and Devonshire clotted cream, which is the finest I have had in London.

 

In addition to the seasonal sweet treats on the top tier the Rosebery also offers servings of freshly baked seasonal cakes. Another unique aspect to the afternoon tea at the Rosebery is the signature blend teas which the Mandarin has curated and have been crafted by the East India Company. Try these bespoke blends, such as the afternoon blend which has Orange Pekoe from Sri Lanka and Golden Monkey leaf from China or the Directors reserve Darjeeling second flush, best with a slice of lemon. These delicate teas go well with the sandwiches. With the scones, the tea can take a stronger flavour and the single estate of Pedro Pekoe from Sri Lanka is very good. With the sweet dainties, the white tea is a perfect combination which has a fruitful fragrance but does not overpower the taste.

Perkin Reveller

Found at the Wharf at The Tower of London overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. The large outdoor terrace is set within the grounds ot the Tower of London and a quirky cream tea is offered with a selection of the finest loose leaf tea, which is served in clear glass cute teapots with unlimited hot water at the side. A great selection of cakes are available as well to have with the freshly baked scones. A lovely quirky spot to relax and watch the tourist mayhem from an enclosed space and a bird's eye view of Tower Bridge.

Playboy Club

Most would think this is an unusual place to have afternoon tea and they are definitely right. This is one of the unique places in London which has adopted the traditional British tea institution by creating a magnificent twist fitting for the venue.

The Playboy institution originated in the 1960s in USA and only opened in London in 2011. Although a members club, the Salvatore Bar, which is where the afternoon tea is served, has a separate entrance and is open to non-members.

This sophisticated bar is a unique setting for afternoon tea. Served only between 5-7pm, the reason being that there is no actual tea served! It’s actually teapot cocktails, Te’Freddo, created by the infamous cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese.

There are four types  of tea-based cocktails to select from which are fruity, floral, spicy, and classic, which use either jasmine, green tea or English breakfast as the base. My favourite was the fruity, which has lychee jasmine tea, pisco, lychee and peach liquers, white peach puree and orange juice. The cocktail is served from a heavy iron based teapot and served in a little cup. The potent cocktail is topped up regularly by the luscious Bunnies.

The savoury selection is not the standard sandwiches but something a bit more interesting, like bruschetta, mini baguettes and seafood bread rolls. In the sweet selection the bunny ear cup cake is so cute and tasty. The standard scones and jam are served in a shot glass! After all this tea is taking place in a bar!

Enjoy the extremely talented live pianist, soak in the extravagant atmosphere and savour this sophisticated afternoon tea, like no other in London.

Sanderson Hotel

The infamous Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is served in the hotel's pretty courtyard garden.

As the name suggests, this new twist on the traditional afternoon tea is a fantastic adventure, based on Lewis Carolls infamous Alice in Wonderland tale.

With quirky carrot meringues which melt in the mouth and crackling mousse served in a chocolate Tea Cup everything is too beautiful to eat! All the items are quirkly presented including the sandwiches and scones.

Although small in size, you may order extra sandwiches and scones at no extra charge. The 'Drink Me' potion is a real genius drink with 3 distinct layers of flavours, the best way to have it is to sip it layer by layer to taste them all individually.

A fun afternoon tea and the bespoke carnival themed crockery adds to this wondrous fare.

 

Note there is a strict two hour turnaround per booking and thus accordingly the seating provided is not as comfortable as found in other venues.

Soho Hotel

For a quirky afternoon tea with a difference this is a great option. Available at the Soho Hotel, formerly a multi-storey car park, in the heart of the entertainment district, the tea package includes a showing of a classic or latest blockbuster movie in the state-of-the-art screening rooms found in the basement of the hotel. Now that’s something to talk about. Perfect for a date!

The Soho Tea also has a twist in that instead of serving traditional sandwiches as the savoury option, there are other offerings such as Mushroom Quiche and Turkey wraps, which is a great alternative to sandwiches.

Extra small bites are also available if even more peckish such as the Welsh rarebit and Olive palmiers. The scones were amazingly fresh and crumbled on the first bite.

 

The sweet selection included a cute doughnut and amazingly flavoured angel cake.

Taken either in the Drawing Room or Library, the setting for this afternoon tea is cosy with comfortable sofas in lovely colourful rooms decorated by none other than Kit Kemp, the owner of the hotel. 

With regards to the tea itself, the hotel has its own bespoke blend of the traditional English Breakfast Tea which is lovely, and for something stronger the ‘Tea Cocktails’ are definitely worth a try. Made either with Green Tea, Early Grey or Jasmine, each one has its one unique taste and the perfect accompaniment with both the savoury and sweet selection of the afternoon tea. With great service in a mellow environment this is a perfect place to enjoy a fabulous afternoon before heading downstairs to watch a movie. For a group, the intimate Library setting can be an ideal room.

The Capital

The Capital Hotel is located in the heart of Knightsbridge just 100 steps from Harrods. Afternoon tea is served in the cosy sitting room with English designed interiors overlooks Basil Street and is a welcoming retreat from the hustle and bustle of busy Knightsbridge. Served from 2-5.30pm daily in the Sitting Room and at the weekend in the restaurant. The Capital afternoon tea is a Winner of the UK Tea Guild Award of Excellence. Anomalous London visited at the weekend so sat in the restaurant.

The Great British Afternoon tea showcases the best of British and with the savoury selection which included the traditional egg and cress, ham and mustard sandwiches, there was smoked mackerel pate, smoked salmon crumpets and bacon and mushroom quiche, which had the most delightful crisp base and was very flavoursome. Seconds was mostly definitely asked for as these bite sized savoury treats were irresistible. The sweet delights had all our favourite British treats which included the Victoria sponge, blackberry bakewell tart on a fantastic crisp base, dark chocolate and orange trifle served in a shot glass, a very quirky Neapolitan icecream sandwich and the iconic lemon drizzle cake. And finally the scones, which are served deliciously warm, were very fresh and crisp. The clotted cream served had the most perfect texture and with the large sized scones, unfortunately only one could be consumed.

The Capital serves Jing tea and the favoured tea is Capital Hotel’s blend of tea which uses India’s finest tea with the perfect balance of strength and aroma. The silver needle white tea is lovely to end the afternoon tea with as it has a subtle fresh flavour.

 

The Langham

The illustrious Langham hotel is where the tradition of afternoon tea started 150 years ago in 1865 and still lives on as the finest indulgence to be experienced in London.  Set in the grand Palm court  with magnificent high ceilings and quirky decorative mirrors, this extensive room has comfortable seating including lovely sofas to relax in and enjoy afternoon tea. The live pianist adds to delightful ambiance.

To start with a lovely amuse bouche of lemon posset is served to cleanse your palate. This is very unique for an afternoon tea! The sandwiches at the Langham are served eloquently from a lovely tray. Expect to see some quirky varieties such as the smoked ham, comte cheese and white truffle oil in a mini bun, and egg with mustard cress in a cute roll. Please do ask for more if you so desire. The traditional scones are served with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam served deliciously warm and are only brought out to you when you are ready. As these are small in size, do not hesitate to ask for more.

The tea selection includes exclusive Langham Blends which have been selected with the utmost care and harvested to capture the natural aromas and flavours. All staff can guide you to pick the perfect blend.

 

Try a different tea with for each course, sandwiches, scones and sweet treats. For those who enjoy black tea, try the Langham Blend without milk! Best had with the sandwiches, you will be pleasantly surprised. With the sweet treats the Silk Road blend, which is a Chinese silver needle white tea is a perfect accompaniment with very delicate flavours. There is even a special ‘Children’s blend’ tea which has fruity rooibos and is completely caffeine free!

The exquisite sweet treats created by Cherish Finden, the head pastry chef and her team demonstrate the time and effort taken to create intricate designs. What is fabulous about the entire selection here is that there is actual ‘cake’ and not just mini desserts. The selection changes every season and for special occasions. Tea at the Langham offers exceptional service with 160 covers a day and five sittings to choose from, there is no limit to your enjoyment here.

The Orangery - Kensington Palace

A lovely, unique, location, near the Round Pond in Hyde Park, just a few yards away from the entrance to Kensington Palace. Built in the early 1700s for Queen Anne as a sort of greenhouse for her gardening, but evolved into a dining house that was used for various parties and entertaining. There is a beautiful pathway leading up to the Orangery and the interior has intricate carved detailing and arched doorways. Having tea here is relaxed and the service is impeccable.

Volupte

This hidden gem in the heart of the City offers a unique take on a quintessential aftertoon tea. Quirky live entertainment ranging from burlesque and cabaret acts to magicians and live music. Expect something provocative! Look out for Miss Tina Turner the tea-lady! A fun afternoon, with great audience participation in certain acts. The tea is served in quirky teapots and vintage China all adding to the unique, decadent ambience at Volupte. Try the irresistibly quirky dessert themed cocktails from the Bon Bon Bar which are a great match with the tea delights. Try the ‘What Women Want’ cocktail or the ‘Liquid Tiramisu’ both absolutely delicious.

Waterside Cafe

A unique gem found in Little Venice, this café is inside a boat on the canal with seating around the tow path. Reasonably priced cream tea, with calming views of Little Venice.