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Mother’s Day Treat – Afternoon Tea at Milliennium Hotel, Mayfair

15 Apr

I have eaten my fair share of Afternoon Tea’s over the last few years; some of them incredible and others totally forgettable. It baffles me how some establishments feel that they can serve below average food and charge extortionate amounts for what is essentially just a few slices of bread with minimal filling and unappetising cakes.

Not all of them are tarred with that brush though and one that I attended recently has shot to the top of my list. It was Mothering Sunday and me and my mum, who had come down to London to visit from Nottingham, joined me and a number of other bloggers and their mums for a luxurious afternoon tea at The Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

After wrestling with what felt like the whole world on the walk from Oxford Street tube, we turned left and ventured our way down into Mayfair. The streets became wider, less busy, the cars more expensive and the atmosphere far more relaxed. To my knowledge, my mum hadn’t visited Mayfair before so I strolled her along a few of the impressive streets and across Grosvenor Square. We eventually ended up at the hotel for a prosecco reception and a tour of the hotel, which I really enjoyed, if only to catch a glimpse of the grand function room and amazing views of Grosvenor square from the bedrooms.

By the time we sat down to eat, we were starving and anticipation was high. My mum is one of the friendliest and most talkative people I know and she wasted no time getting to know our dining companions. After choosing our teas, we were served a range of crustless finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, jam and a rather unconventional lemon curd, plus a range of cakes and pastries, including a fruit tart, a mini crème brulee and macarons, which all arrived on beautiful Wedgwood Wild Strawberry crockery. A lack of savoury food is a real bugbear of mine when it comes to afternoon tea and one of the best things was the fact that as soon as we had run out of sandwiches, a fresh plate was brought to the table. It took us a few plates to fill up before moving onto the sweet stuff but we made sure we left enough room!

After a couple of hours we were well and truly stuffed. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and my mum loved it even more – the company, the food, the hotel, the location. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Full Afternoon Tea – £24.95 per person, based on a minimum of two people

Celebration Tea – £34.50 per person, based on a minimum of two people

Afternoon Tea at Blakes

11 Jan

I wish I had known Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, for she is (was) a lady after my own heart. If she hadn’t ordered tea, bread, butter and cake to her room in the late afternoon all those years ago in the 19th Century, we may not have the glorious delights of what has become Afternoon Tea today. As the story goes, Anna used to get so hungry during the afternoon hours and simply couldn’t wait until 9pm for dinner so ordered the sustinance to cure her hunger pangs.

Fast forward 173 years and Afternoon Tea is a huge trade for the hotel and restaurant industry. All of the top hotels in London serve their own twist on the quintessentially British tradition. I have tried a fair few teas over the years, some good, other’s somewhat ‘interesting’, but I haven’t even made a dent on the number that I still have to experience.

My mum was visiting for a couple of days before Christmas and she shares my love for cakes, dainty sandwiches and tea so we headed to Blakes to test out their Afternoon Tea. Blakes is located in the leafy Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and is famous for its stunning design, elegance and dedicated service.

Afternoon tea at Blakes is served in the subterranean and sensuous spendour of the stunning Chinese Room in the basement of the hotel. We opted for the Champagne Afternoon Tea and we were served with a glass of Champagne on arrival, followed closely by our choice of Jing tea and finger sandwiches.

We received our own plate of sandwiches and our own silver pot of tea. The bread on a couple of my sandwiches was ever so slightly hard, which could be a result of it sitting out in the open air for too long but the fillings were fresh and despite ranging from original cucumber to chicken and ginger, complimented each other perfectly.

Our empty plates were taken away from us and replaced with a plate of four freshy baked, warm scones fresh from the oven, a pot of cream, little pots of jam and fresh strawberries. The waiter then returned with another plate full of Blakes Afternoon Tea speciality cakes.

We tucked into the scones first to ensure that we devoured them whilst warm. We smothered jam first and the smeared a thick layer of cream on top (the Cornish way – read all about the furious debate between Cornwall and Devon in 2010 here) and ate. Wow. Delicious. We were slightly disappointed that the cream wasn’t clotted but nevertheless it was deliciously sweet and filled with little specks of fresh vanilla.

The four speciality cakes clearly had oriental influences to match the surroundings but not all of them lived up to the standard set by the scones. We also couldn’t possibly eat everything – four cakes, four scones and a rage of sandwiches for two people is some going.

One more glass of champagne later and we were stuffed to the gills. During our visit we were the only diners in the restaurant but perhaps it was a combination of the fact that Afternoon Tea isn’t overly popular in the winter and it was two days before Christmas. We weren’t totally alone though – a few hotel guests were loitering in the bar area drinking espresso martinis to help combat jet lag and striking up conversations with one another.

My mum was overjoyed with the experience and we both secretly wished that we could retreat to one of the luxurious rooms for a quick nap before heading back home for Christmas. I’ll be back to Blakes in the summer to try the tea in the calmming Japanese Garden.

Champagne Afternoon Tea at Blakes costs £26.

Blakes Hotel London
33 Roland Gardens

Food for Think was a guest at Blakes

Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough

28 Mar

What better way to start British summertime than with a quintessentially British afternoon tea at The Lanesborough. As I walk out at 6.15pm into day light, my waistband digs into me more so than it did before I filled myself with morsels of traditional English delight.

An afternoon tea with three fellow food bloggers (Mathilde’s Cuisine, Gourmet Chick and Greedy Diva) was a perfect way to end the weekend. Although my two days off work have been full of butter, sugar, flour and egg mixtures in my own kitchen, it was great to end with a bit of posh.

This was my first London hotel afternoon tea experience having previously visited Bea’s of Bloomsbury with my mum when she came to London, although you cannot really compare the two – both exquisite in their own ways.

The Lanesborough adds a touch of grandeur to the life of a girl in her early 20’s living in Wembley. The seating impeccably comfortable, the silverware petit, the napkins placed neatly on your knee by a witty and quietly enthusiastic waiter and teas expertly chosen for you after a quick ‘consultation’ with a tea sommelier. I like milk with my tea so was advised to get the’ Lanesborough Afternoon Blend’, which consists of Darjeeling, finest China Keemum and whole rose buds.

It is a treat and an experience not to be missed on a visit to London. Finger sandwiches, cakes, tea cakes, scones (with lashings of clotted cream) and as much tea as you can drink within a two hour window, I left feeling like I used to feel on a Friday evening after I had finished the whole bag full of sweets that my dad had brought home for me after work. Friday night was ‘sweetie night.’

I always imagined that afternoon tea of that calibre would be reserved for a special occasion – we knew that there were a few people celebrating their birthdays as the smell of a lit match wafted by and the waiters began to sing happy birthday along with the grand pianist that played tucked neatly in the corner of the room.

Nerves usually get the better of me when I enter an establishment like this and I don’t know whether I have recently grown out of this or there isn’t as much as pretence at The Lanesborough but I felt at ease as soon as the very softly spoken waiter pulled the napkin over my knee.

We chose a non-alcoholic afternoon tea – the idea of Champagne usually excites me but not the thought of it swilling around with the clotted cream from the scones. £35 + service may sound a lot but not for a treat every now and then. I can’t compare The Lanesborough to any other afternoon tea in London but after today’s events, I’m sure that I will be able to soon.

The Lanesborough
Hyde Park Corner
United Kingdom

Lanesborough Hotel - Private Dining on Urbanspoon


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