C and I are big fans of Afternoon Tea, who isn’t?! He may not be so much of a sucker for the sweet stuff as I am, but he loves the whole quintessentially British affair. I’ve even spotted his pinky sticking out when he uses the dinky bone china cups!
Courtesy of my lovely sister Sally (thanks for the Christmas gift!) today we were off for a date day together - first to Kensington Palace and then on to indulge in afternoon tea at the Royal Garden Hotel a few minutes walk away.
We arrived a little early for our 1pm reservation as the temperature outside was pushing it’s way past 28 degrees. It was hot hot hot! As we walked through the doors and the cool air con hit, it was a moment of pure bliss! We were led into the bar to enjoy an ice cold coke and cool down before 1pm arrived and we were taken to our table in the Park Terrace.
Bring me the cakes!
First impression? There was a really lack of charm. It’s quite a modern hotel inside and perhaps that’s why, it was all very ‘white’ and ‘workey’. 1pm is the first sitting for afternoon tea so no surprise there was no real atmosphere yet but before long the small area was full including a big hen party – a regular sight at any afternoon tea. This time there were no willy bopper hats though
We were impressed by the teas and we liked the added touch that they bring over the teas in jars for you to have a smell and decide which one you would like.
After ohhing and arring and sniffing every bottle (classy) I opted for a very exotic English breakfast tea! C went for a ‘Blooming Jewel’ – a white flower tea that blooms in the pot.
We were asked whether we wanted to upgrade to the Royal Tea which included a glass of Théophile Roederer NV champagne and strawberries drizzled with balsamic but we declined. I think the heat must have sent me crazy to decline champagne
The tea arrived and we watched the flower bloom. Shame the pot wasn’t a little bigger as it was hard to see. My tea was lovely and strong but….and do say if you think i’m being a bit of a tea geek here….wouldn’t you think that at a 5* hotel, when they’ve gone through all the fuss of getting you sniffing the teas you would have tea leaves? Alas, as I peered into my beautiful looking tea pot I was dismayed to find a lone tea bag bobbing up and down. Sob. As lovely tasting as the tea was, this is afternoon tea. Come on Royal Garden Hotel, part and parcel of afternoon tea is faffing with the strainers!
Shortly after our sandwiches were brought over and we were a little surprised that we had a plate each with them piled on. It didn’t look bad, just not quite the elegant presentation that comes with teeny tiny sandwiches.
After doing a swap (me nabbing Cs chicken and egg mayo sandwiches) we dived in. The sandwiches were very good apart from the somewhat random ‘tomato salsa’. Red onion overdrive! A good selection and plenty, just presented a little poorly with some token green stuff on top which I believe is there to make you feel good about yourself before you shovel in pounds of sugar.
Which brings me onto the good stuff! The cakes and scones arrived and they did not disappoint. Spot on. 4 warm scones nestled under cover on the bottom tier of the cake stand. 2 of which were delicately infused with cinnamon and they were nothing short of amazing. Delicious. Who would have thought cinnamon in scones could taste so damn good?! Plenty of cream and I was impressed by the different takes on the jam – what seemed to be homemade strawberry and a tasty pineapple.
The cakes were equally good though by this point we were pathetically full. Again we’re blaming it on the heat and not the fact we are wusses and can’t handle a few sandwiches and cakes
On the middle tier were 4 small slices of different loaf cakes – chocolate, cherry, plain and fruit. All very good.
The pastries were a chocolate and coffee tart, a coconut macaroon cake (to die for), a raspberry swirl cake and if my memory is correct (it was 5 hours ago!) a lemon cake with fondant. All were tasty.
We had read before that if you want more scones you will be charged extra but we were so full we didn’t manage to eat everything we had but we did sample everything and it gets a thumbs up for taste.
Would I go again for afternoon tea? Probably not. It’s good value at £26 per person which for London is very good but there was a real lack of ‘experience’ and for me, that’s what I love about this tradition. The table next to us was so close that we had to resist whispering sweet nothings to one another so I wouldn’t recommend for a date! A nice place to take your mum when in London but there are far too many afternoon teas to sample across London to stick to the same one.
That being said I would gladly indulge in one of those cinnamon scones again!
To book afternoon tea at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington in the Park Terrace please visit: Royal Garden Hotel