I grew up on the other side of the world, but that doesn’t stop me embracing the traditions of a winter Christmas – especially the sheer cosy joy of a Christmas afternoon tea. This year the Wellington Lounge of the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane has a fabulous twelve days of Christmas theme that will delight the senses of the most hardened grinch.
Disclaimer: We were delighted to be a guest of IHG and afternoontea.co.uk to review the beautiful 12 Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane.
The InterContinental London Park Lane stands proudly today on the very site of 145 Piccadilly, the Queen’s former childhood residence. Sadly 145 Piccadilly was to suffer the same fate as many in London during the war, being destroyed in the blitz. Between 1968 and 1975, work began by Sir Frederick Gibberd on the design and construction of the luxury hotel – and the hotel was opened by His Grace the 8th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley on 23rd September 1975.
Sidenote: I grew up singing slightly different lyrics to the 12 Days of Christmas carol. The New Zealand version is a little more outdoorsy; think Pukekos in a Ponga Tree, kumara (sweet potato), flax kits and a few other more earthy alternatives.
Christmas Afternoon Tea in the Wellington Lounge is a perfect festive treat, accompanied by the sound of a beautiful grand piano. Every year the Intercontinental Park Lane team present something fabulous – the last Afternoon Tea of theirs I blogged about was in 2014 (wow, has my blog changed since then) instead choosing to simply enjoy our annual feasts of deliciousness in between – not to mention a few visits to sister IHG hotels around the world.
The lovely Sima (vegetarian boss mama of the Curious Pixie) and I began our afternoon with the pop of a Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut cork, champagne slipping smoothly into our flutes as we perused the intriguing tea menu. To our delight, a pianist began to tinkle the ivories of the grand piano with some of our favourite Christmas carols and tunes just as our stand arrived.
The afternoon tea has been cleverly inspired and woven through the with the festive lyrics of the Twelve Days of Christmas song – and if you a) finish reading this post or b) leave the Wellington Lounge and don’t have the lyrics running under your breath, my job hasn’t be done correctly.
On the first (plate?) day of Christmas, (our lovely waitress) my true love gave to me (us) a (mini) partridge in a (folded pie crust) pear tree. On the other side of our table, Sima loved her mushroom alternative. I started with a lovely white tea served with real rosebuds which was refreshing and the perfect counterpoint to such a sumptuous selection.
On our second (third, fourth and fifth) day(s) of Christmas, my true love (our lovely waitress) gave to us (a selection of delicate sandwiches) five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens and two turtle doves.
My sandwiches were a lovely balance of tradition and festive flavours; a beautifully arrayed open-faced smoked salmon & cream cheese sprinkled with caviar, honey roasted gammon on tomato bread, whole grain mustard roast turkey with sage and onion mayonnaise on herbed bread, not to mention the treat of lobster and crayfish Marie rose on a lemon bread.
I shan’t run along the vegetarian selection – but they were good enough that we were enticed to enjoy an additional round of freshly made mushroom sandwiches by our true love, sorry, lovely waitress.
They were almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
On the sixth day of Christmas (actually, as soon as we’d finished), my (our) my true love (our lovely waitress) gave to us six geese a-layin’ (a brace of scones – plain and cranberry winter spiced scones with clotted Devon cream, not to mention strawberry preserve and an intriguing orange cinnamon curd.)
Sweetly advising us to switch up our tea selection to match the change in flavour from savoury to sweet, we both changed our teapots – Sima to the white rose tea that I had enjoyed earlier, and I moved to an intriguing camomile tea with a refreshing apple tone.
Foregoing the expected seven swans a-swimmin’, eight maids milkin’, nine lords a-leapin’ or ten ladies dancin’ (who would have caused quite a din in the restful atmosphere) my true love (our lovely waitress) presented us with:-
- a sweet Christmas swan made from Macaron swimming on a coconut biscuit (which reminded me of NZ Coconut Ice),
- a gorgeous crémeux Blood orange mousse drum
- a sumptuous chocolate and kumquat filled golden goose egg decorated delicately with golden rings
- and a pear tree mousse which was the perfect accompaniment without being too sweet.
We weren’t serenaded by eleven pipers pipin’, but the pianist had us dreaming back to our childhood Christmasses.
On the twelfth day of Christmas (aka the last part of the afternoon tea) my true love (now our lovely waiter) valiantly standing in for the twelve drummers drummin’, gave to us mini mince pie that we were just too full to enjoy, alas.
As we finished our champagne and made our way into the winter weather, they were setting up the Wellington Lounge for their annual serenade of school children who come in sing carols for the hotel guests which we sadly missed.
It was such a lovely Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental Park Lane – and I don’t normally discuss price (if somewhere makes it onto the blog, it’s definitely worth the price) but this tea is a steal at £36 including a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut. It’s the perfect place to take someone you love for a special afternoon.
What is your favourite Christmas carol or song? Up there with a Patridge in a Pear Tree/a Pukeko in a Ponga Tree, is Bing Crosby and David Bowie crooning Little Drummer Boy, and the romantic refrain of O Holy Night.
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