I have been to a few afternoon teas in London but not one in one of the old luxurious London hotels. I have to say these do have a special charm. My afternoon tea last Sunday was at the Dorchester which is one of those old school glamorous hotels near Mayfair with huge beautiful flower bouquets, heavy rich fabrics, impeccable service and fantastic food.
Afternoon Tea in London
Now after the afternoon teas I have been to, I can confirm they mostly fall into a few different categories: trendy (which are a little gimmicky), stylish (or Instagram friendly) or those with great food. The issue is that it is quite difficult to find ones where all three elements are present: the stylish ones are usually devoid of real good food, those with great food are usually quite straight forward and not so much of an experience or those which are trendy are fun but not really satisfying as an afternoon tea experience. So one thing you can be sure of is afternoon tea at the Dorchester is going to manage all three.
And they do. The effort made in the service and the experience is obvious. Which to my mind is a good thing. Afternoon tea is not your casual brunch in Shoreditch – I have come to Mayfair for a particular experience. I am probably not going for afternoon tea more than one or twice a year so that experience needs to count. And at the Dorchester it does.
The tea takes place at the Promenade which is a lovely dining room, with colour palette of blush, pink, green and gold. The decor is very obviously luxurious and not a casual dining. We were there for the first sitting around 1 pm so I could sneak around and take a few photographs without disturbing other guests.
Tea (and coffee!)
Now you know I am not a tea person particularly – I do prefer my coffee. But I was very greedy – the teas listed were extremely exotic so this is not the place to order Earl Grey. I was very tempted and tried out the rosebud tea which was very light and breezy. I also wanted to mention that this is the kind of place where you get tea strainers made of silver and a tiny bowl for your tea strainer. Yup – that kind of crockery exists although I had no idea it did.
But I cheated and after my fancy rosebud tea I needed my caffeine fix so had some of the house filter coffee too!
After tea we started on the sandwiches. There was quite a lot of variety – more so than most. I also saw that one of my dining companions was vegetarian and there was a special plate of sandwiches brought for her. What I liked was there were specific sandwiches made for her and its not like she was just handed the cucumber ones to nibble on! So keep in mind this is a great place if you have specific dietary requirements.
Also recommended you come here with a good appetite. Even though they are happy to keep filling up the sandwiches for us, I had to give up quite early. I was greedy but just couldn’t eat anymore after a point of time! My favourite sandwich was the egg one – it was different from the regular egg sandwich. It was slightly spicy so I quite enjoyed it!
I have loved the idea of scones since the first End Blyton I read where the Famous Five seem to be eating scones for almost every meal (seriously what is wrong with them?). Loved the plain scone I ate. Also can readers please let me know how this works for you – do you eat cream or jam or both together with your scone? I was a cream only person but I can see the appeal of some good strawberry jam as well!
So I have realised I am not a pastry person. Ok, now I need to clarify before I get yelled at. I like cake – like tea cake or the loafy bread cakes but not so much the rich chocolaty creamy indulgent pastries.
Of course theres a time and place for it but this is not my usual preference for desert. I did feel a little guilty since they were beautiful but a little wasted on me. Surprisingly my favourite pastry was the one with fig – who knew!
What I Really Appreciated
There were two things I really appreciated – one, although the tea bookings were for 2 hours we finished well after 3 pm and the staff were super accommodating. Honestly, this is where you see the difference between the service at a nice restaurant and a place like the Dorchester because I even wouldn’t have blamed them for hurrying us along since the dining room was packed.
The other thing I liked is how happy the staff was to pack up a scone and pastry for me to take back home to DJ! I thought that was really nice and doing this can be intimidating in a fancy place but it didn’t feel that way at all. I really appreciated that since I absolutely abhor wasting food!
For all the London visitors please make sure you have an afternoon tea experience. And honestly, if its your first afternoon tea I would always recommend one at one of the old iconic hotels in Mayfair. Once you are an afternoon tea pro you could move to the trendy ones! And for the , I always think a good way start off autumn right is to spend a long afternoon sipping tea (actually coffee!) and eating pastries. Last autumn, I took my parents along for afternoon tea and they really enjoyed it.
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The afternoon tea at the Dorchester was gifted by ‘Hotels.com’, but of course, all views are my own.