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Afternoon Tea

    Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe: Afternoon Tea Pawfection

    Four years ago (how on earth has that time disappeared so quickly?) we excitedly booked our first – of many – visits to Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe. It was a wintery Saturday evening – because that was the only time they had free in about 3 months of searching – and I gathered together a couple of my nearest & dearest, and we enjoyed a pawfect evening petting the kitties.

    Lady Dinah's Cat Cafe Afternoon Tea Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Warning: If you don’t like cats, this probably isn’t the right post for you – there are a plethora of other interesting afternoon tea posts in this blog though. However, it may be the right post for someone you love. Like all of the bemused guys with their girlfriends… Read more

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    Afternoon Tea at the Park Royal Hotel/Roseate House

    It was a dark and stormy day. Two bloggers braved the sheeting rain and dodged puddles as they made their way to the wilds of Paddington for an afternoon tea, relaxing after busy weeks. They (eventually) slipped into the hotel entrance (cleverly disguised by being called Roseate House) for an afternoon of cosiness.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea near Paddington Park Royal Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I was meeting with the one and only Country Mouse Claire, as a late, late birthday catch up (for her – not me, even I don’t have the courage to claim that months afterwards – six weeks is my limit so far).

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    Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea Review: At the Park Lane Hilton Hotel

    Can you beat a chocoholic afternoon tea?

    When I first moved to the UK, I wanted to avoid the antipodean cliches. I didn’t want to live in a share house with half a dozen Kiwis and Aussies, I didn’t want to drink away my weekends and approach Mondays with an empty wallet and a dozen regrets, I didn’t want my life to be contained between the three areas of Shepherds Bush, Fulham and Clapham.

    Park Lane Hilton Hotel Afternoon Tea Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I wanted to find the mystical Europe that haunted my dreams, I wanted to escape everything that I thought I knew and make connections with real British people whose culture was so different to mine. I only had two years (or so I thought) and I simply didn’t want to waste them. ** Warning: this blog post contains an afternoon tea metaphor so tightly stretched that it might explode. It even flavours this warning.**

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    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas – 2017 edition

    Someone, somewhere in the universe has designated this week national afternoon tea week (only the best week ever to reminisce about afternoons of luxury and who needs more excuse to book a few more?)

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It has almost become a blogger cliche, inviting the girls to a few hours of decorous luxury, but one that I rather adore. As I’m getting on in years (feel free to feel sorry for me…) I’ve swiftly come to the conclusion that I’d rather don a pretty dress to spend a little more on sandwiches and scones, than prop up a pub bar and feel very sorry for myself the next day.

    Running this list in 2014 and 2015 in honour of National Afternoon Tea Week (but not 2016 as I needed a break from the pinky raising), and as I’m – surprisingly – often asked for recommendations (thank goodness my reputation is for afternoon tea and nothing more scurrilous) it seemed that another top list was in order. I find the hardest aspect of recommending a tea is that everyone wants something different; some people want opulent luxury, some prefer quirky surrounds, some fancy value for money. #bloggerproblems

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Having visited a few over the years, it does hone ones expectations of pinky-raising, and with the London market awash in silver tea trays and teapots it means there is an afternoon tea for literally everyone – from dainty on-the-hoof treats to quintessential extravanganzas you need to book 3 months in advance. (Nb: All prices are sans Champagne & service, all links are to my own reviews and any that were comped are indicated with a * in the title – as ever I review as if I had paid for them.)

    The less than £25 afternoon tea bracket

    The Modern Pantry (gf)
    Still an absolute favourite, we were presented with a misleadingly dainty tea tier we marvelled at the selection offered to tempt our tastebuds. No limp cucumber or plain egg sandwiches dare show their faces in this temple to modern flavour. Each mouthful was a moment of pure travel. Exotic delections such as a Lotus root crisp with piled with Persian spiced sweet potato & hijiku, and a quail egg, miso and wasabi cream cheese macadamia dukka open sandwich teased our studied sensibilities… I need to go back asap.

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Wallace Collection afternoon tea.*
    For the price, this is a good tea – but could be a little more refined. But I have a deep question – is it just me, or do you simultaneously feel like Peter Pan never wanting to grow up or begin adulting and like a little old lady who frequents art galleries in puzzled wonderment before returning home to her cat? Whilst many people live for tipsy evenings at throbbing nightclubs, I’m really never happier than quietly strolling through hallways lined with majestic artifacts and historical portraiture that tells tales of another time (finishing with a glass of something cheeky obvs.). No? Just me?

     

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The £25-£40 afternoon tea bracket

    Mad Hatters Tea (available gf)
    The experience felt a little down the rabbit hole compared to many we’ve been to before, but in such a good way. Right from the word go we were presented with a tray of perfumed vials instead of a tradition tea list and encouraged to smell our way to a selection…

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Afternoon Tea at the Baglioni Hotel, a chic corner of Kensington*

    There is no delicate pinky waving of gossamer pastries or wafer-thin slivers of sandwiches that leave your appetite wanting at the Italian style Baglioni Hotel afternoon tea, but a delectable selection of molto beneclassics that sets this apart as the Maserati of Kensington teas.

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (I had loved the Kensington Palace Orangery afternoon tea, but we re-visited a few months ago and it really disappointed us by missing the level of detail and flavour that we had previously loved.)

    The opulently £40+ afternoon tea bracket

    The Grandame of London afternoon tea, Claridges (available gf)
    Setting the bar very, very high for every single tea I’ve ever enjoyed, Claridge’s is simply the epitome of luxurious afternoon tea in London. Every aspect is presented with a grace and style that many hotels attempt to emulate but don’t quite achieve – the mark of 150 years of practice…

     Claridges Gluten Free Afternoon Tea My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sketch (Not, er, yet blogged)
    Ahhh, the infamously insane design doyenne of London afternoon teas, with possibly the most famous bathroom in all of tea history. I was thoroughly skeptical of visiting due to many mixed reviews, but with our late afternoon slot we were treated wonderfully…

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The best of the quirky afternoon teas

    Egerton Hotel: A pawfectly luxurious doggie afternoon tea.

    The hotel is a 28-room oasis of opulence in the heart of Kensington. Pups and their owners gather here both on the weekend (and to stay obviously) to while away a few hours of indulgence. After ordering our tea and clinking our glasses, out came our stands, one for the ladies and one for our gentlepup.

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge*
    We just loved this tea – in the centre of London, quirky, fun and full of fantastic touches. Oh, and the reason that I was able to use the phrase “Unbelievable cakes, indescribable feelings / Soaring savouries, freewheeling / Under an endless diamond sky.”

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Combining two of my favourite meals, the Brunch B’N T Afternoon Tea at Le Meridien.*

    This tea feels like the Seraphim level of afternoon teas – having progressed through the ranks of tea tasting hierarchies – it is fit for true connoisseurs who are in search of something a little avaunt guard.

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Instagram favourite – has to go to Dalloway Terrace.*
    We gathered amidst green boughs, tinkling teacups and marbled table tops. On the table champagne flutes sparkled, delicately dove grey striped crockery nestled arranged just so and green blooms drew the eye to the space left for our afternoon tea towers to occupy.

    My 10 favourite London afternoon teas - 2017 edition Adventures of a London Kiwi

    There we have it. Two years of afternoon teas, and oddly enough a few of them were invites. There are so many good ones that didn’t quite make the list but competition was rather fierce – and a fair few cream teas that were definitely up there in quality (including one at Harrods, a secret one and one in the lounge of a good friend – but I’m not sure she’d appreciate me sending strangers to her house.)

    Ahhhhh, afternoon tea!

    What are your favourites? I need a few new ones to try!

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    An Ode To Afternoon Tea for #AfternoonTeaWeek (in collaboration with Buyagift)

    As a meal, afternoon tea doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Delicate slivers of sandwiches, scones slathered with cream (not to mention jam depending on partiality) and a top tier of jewel-like cakes twinkling from a slender stand.

    This is even before the champagne menu is presented, and a bouquet of tea flavours is spread before the beautifully manicured guests. Meanwhile, a harpist gently strums in the background and fellow enthusiasts murmur over the gentle tinkle of tea-cups. Oh, and then you get bloke-orientated teas with sliders, hot scotch eggs and a tumbler of ale.

    So, when Buyagift told me about their petition to institute a tea emoji (which a lack thereof in my honest opinion is a travesty) it got me thinking – why do I love afternoon tea so much?

    Ironically, at around 3pm one afternoon recently, the answer came to me – it is the perfect response to a hectic modern life.

    We wake to alarm clocks, race through getting ready, lose our keys, run out the door, station count our commute and clock watch our computer screens, feel guilty about the people we haven’t caught up with and then repeat it all the next day.

    Afternoon tea was originally an everyday affair. It came about during the Georgian period sometime from 1714 to 1830, as a small meal between lunch and dinner. The story goes that the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russel, began a daily afternoon ritual of having sliced sandwiches, small cakes along with some tea in her room by herself. Being a socially active person, she eventually began to invite others to join her. The popularity of this ritual soon started to spread and became fashionable both amongst the upper and lower classes of British society.

    If you think about it, even that 3pm cup of tea and a biscuit (or cookie depending on your language setting) is a distillation of this. It covers the mid-afternoon sugar slump and lets you take a simple moment of enjoyment amidst deadlines and demands.

    I simply love the chance to catch up with good friends – and spend a leisurely afternoon nibbling delicacies. In fact it’s getting so bad that when asked to recommend a central London pub the other week I went totally blank – but could reel off at least 3 afternoon teas nearby.

    Now afternoon tea is a florid affair of 3 luxurious levels of treat – usually taken on weekends or in the middle of a holiday afternoon with varying levels of lavishness, quirky themes and traditions.

    Some of my favourite memories were created over afternoon tea – seeing long-forgotten mates, making new friendships, an afternoon with my Mum, laughter over long stems of bubbles and the occasional good-natured argument over how to jam our scones, oh afternoon tea, how I love thee.

    What is your favourite part of afternoon tea?


    Buyagift kindly sponsored this post full of my own afternoon inspired whimsy in order to keep our wanderlust strong, the travel fund topped up for future afternoon teas and blog posts coming.

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