The lushly appointed Grosvenor House Hotel has a lounge in which you’ll want to linger a little longer, overlooking the leafy boughs of Hyde Park. Especially when the table in front of you is set with a glass of champagne and afternoon tea winks at your from it’s silver stand. Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Grosvenor House Hotel, but all dreamy metaphors are very much my own.
Every element of the decor and delectable tea stand are a poetic ode to the tree boughs across Park Lane – they seem so close that they’re almost touchable.
As the resident Grosvenor House Hotel pianist delicately tinkled the ivories, we settled into our velvet couches in the Park Room, ready for an afternoon of nattering and giggling over shimmering Perrier-Jouët bubbles.
Did you know that afternoon tea is traditionally taken between 3pm and 4pm? Research suggests that the Jack Buchanan song ‘Everything Stops For Tea’ from his 1935 album, is responsible for this formality. He sings:
“It’s a very good English custom, though the weather be cold or hot.
When they need a little pickup, you’ll find a little teacup
Will always hit the spot….
Now I know just why Franz Schubert didn’t finish his Unfinished Symphony.
He might have written more but the clock struck four.
Everything stops for tea.”
It wasn’t until we chatted with the team that we realised how deeply the details were considered; both the tea and cocktail menu “leans heavily on floral nuances drawn from our prestigious heritage and location next to London’s world-famous Hyde Park. Clean and pure flavour combinations have made the Park Room a top destination for glamorous evening soirees for many of London’s High Society.”
Whilst we perused the tea menu, we started with a cheeky palate cleanser, crowned with candy floss.
Our sandwiches were traditional but perfectly executed – cucumber with garden mint butter; smoked Oakham chicken, tarragon, crème fraîche; roast Aberdeen Angus beef and creamed horseradish; Honey roast Yorkshire ham with Coleman’s English mustard and North Atlantic cold water prawn with classic Marie Rose sauce.
In addition to these, we were presented with a silver tray of beautifully presented open Foreman’s smoked Scottish salmon & cream cheese and Burford brown Clarence Court egg with mayonnaise & chive. (Oh, and we were offered top-ups for those people who bring their hungry other halves with them to afternoon tea.)
The plain and raisin buttermilk scones were delightful – accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream accompanied and a fabulous choice of British preserves: strawberry, rose petal, rhubarb and ginger, gooseberry, raspberry or blackcurrant.
Even the local greenery has influenced the sweet tier – a milk chocolate and honeycomb mousse; Kaffir Lime and ginger éclair; citrus, raspberry and basil tart; lavender cake and a rhubarb apple and custard delice. All delicate and delightful.
Though the weather be cold or hot
When you need a little pick-up, you’ll find a little teacup
Will always hit the spot.
Had a date to meet Mark Anthony at three
When he came an hour late she said “You’ll have to wait”
For everything stops for tea”
Oh, and then as we were leaving (dashing off to a busy evening) the Grosvenor House Hotel team tried to press another slice of cake into our hands, in a carry box – but for once in our lives, we demurred for practical reasons. Next time, next time!
Which is your favourite aspect of afternoon tea? The atmosphere, the tea, the champagne, the sandwiches, savouries, scones or desserts?
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