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Afternoon Tea

    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 compd 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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    The Luxury Brunch Afternoon Tea at Le Meridien Hotel (warning: this is not a typo)

    Brunch is somewhat of a religion in New Zealand, and Afternoon Tea is rather a genteel worship of tinkling tea cups in England. They are both altars that I spend an inordinate amount of time at, both in London and away, and more than once I’ve declaimed them to be my favourite meals.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Le Meridien but all thoughts, 

    flavour sentiments and brunch chants are entirely original.

    Somehow, the stars aligned to not only find an afternoon that both Becca (of Runaway Kiwi infamy) and I had free, and coincide with an invite to try out the Brunch Afternoon Tea at Le Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly. Living our best lives indeed.

    Hidden high above the tourist bustle of Picadilly, signature teal flags are draped from stone columns declaiming the luxurious 5-star Starwood hotel.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Terrace Grill & Bar, on the second floor of the hotel, is a beautifully bright space which used to house a swimming pool in the 1920s. Fast forward a century or so, and the rain poured outside, but we were cozily ensconced watching the droplets run down the length of the beautiful atrium, cocktail in hand.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We loved our B ‘N T: Brunch Afternoon Tea, it was the perfect combination of two wonderful worlds. We started with a cocktail each – the ‘Berries and Tea’ for my corkscrew-tressed gin-monster – an Earl Grey tea infusion with gin, crushed sage and raspberries – and I sipped an Elderflower Fizz, a shimmering concoction of Gin, Cointreau and elderflower, sparkling wine.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Instead of the usual sandwich fare, savouries were mini-Yorkshire puddings stuffed with a Full English – a cocktail sausage, streaky bacon, cherry tomato, baked beans, black pudding and quail egg – light, delectable and moreish, Eggs Piccadilly – an English muffin basket, stuffed with smoked salmon, poached quail egg & truffle spinach hollandaise – also scrumptious, and an open sandwich with a twist – a duo of Rosary Ash and pickled asparagus on charcoal bread.

    They were so, so good. So good. In fact my mouth is watering all over again.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Even scones get a mini-makeover; we enjoyed the savoury scone scattered with red pepper, chilli, cheese and avocado, served with relish & sweet chilli clotted cream; and the sweet scone is refreshed by studding chocolate and raspberry into the light dough.

    The sweet course was even more playful (some might draw parallels to Bacchus, the god of enjoyment and mischeif – and I think he and his nymphs would thoroughly enjoy this tea).

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We loved our chocolate egg soldiers – dark chocolate mousse with mango coulis piped in white chocolate egg shell & cinnamon sugar roll – I adored the bite-sized fruit tart…

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …and we plotted all kinds of shenanigans over the gold shimmered brownie.

    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.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Whilst not a dainty tea, it perfectly balanced the two meals with vim and verve.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And once finished, there is always the beautiful bar to linger in.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (Also, I realised how much of a London geek I was when I saw this print and exclaimed ‘but, he isn’t Eros!’ – see here for the real story.)

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Brunch Le Meridian Picadilly Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As the press team say, you can have your afternoon tea cake and eat it too at Le Meridien. And, if you book Monday 14th – Sunday 20th August aka Afternoon Tea Week, you’ll be able to enjoy the version of the tea paired with cocktails for a discounted price of £35.

    {Pin for later}

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    Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge

    We can show you a world, shining, shimmering, splendid

    Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?


    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge

    but my lyric wrangling is all very much my own.


    We can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder

    Down some stairs and underground on a magic carpet ride


    A whole new afternoon tea, a new fantastic point of view

    In a Soho cakeshop, no-one to tell us no or say we’re only dreaming

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A whole new world, a dazzling place we never knew

    But when we were there, the prosecco’s crystal clear

    And I was in a whole new world with Binny-boo* 


    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Unbelievable cakes, indescribable feelings

    Soaring savouries, freewheeling

    Under an endless diamond sky

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi


    A purple-hued new world, don’t you dare close your eyes

    A hundred thousand things to see, hold your breath, it gets better…

    The most magical treat was the first – the Genie’s Welcome – an Eton mess style glass filled with fresh Raspberries, Pomegranates and Pashmak (Turkish candy floss), capped with a perfectly crisp Meringue that brought back childhood memories. Tapping the Meringue into shatters granted us three wishes (obvs) which we discussed at great length over the rest of our table of tidbits.

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi


    We were like shooting stars, had come so far

    We can’t go back to how tea used to be

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A whole new world, every golden plate a surprise

    With new horizons to pursue, every moment red letter

    We’d chase them anywhere – there was time to spare, let us us share this whole new world with you


    The sandwiches were tasty; coronation chicken, cheese & tomato jam, and my favourite cucumber & fresh mint, served alongside ‘desert rose tarts’, delicate vegetarian ribbons in a crisp pastry shell. On the bottom tier moreish savoury scone swirls were spun through with roasted peppers and feta cheese,  alongside teeny, delicious choux golden cheese clouds – both served with slatherable cream cheese as tradition twist.

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Mid-tower the biscuit based magic carpets were parked, sheltering delicate Raspberry & Rose Tarts sprinkled with pistachio emeralds, kept company by peanut butter Hidden Gem Macaron, with cheeky raspberry jelly centres.

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi


    But, the jewels in the tabletop diadem were the towers of Ruby Dream Cake, flavoured with Vanilla, Strawberry, Orange Glaze and Jelly Ruby; and Golden Treasure Biskies, a delectable romance between Chocolate and Speculous, garnished with 24 Carat Gold.

    The Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge is a lovely, informal treat, and the jewel-hued surrounds and exotic soundtrack were so much fun for an afternoon of mischief.

    Genie's Cave Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A whole new world (a whole new world)

    That’s where we’ll be (that’s where we’ll be)

    A thrilling chase, A wondrous place

    For a sweetly themed afternoon tea.

    *sorry, rhyming rules – with permission!

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    Dalloway Terrace Afternoon Tea, Bloomsbury Hotel

    A year ago we met here. 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 Dalloway Terrace afternoon tea towers to occupy.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Dalloway Terrace Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Dalloway Terrace Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were again invited guests of the Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury Hotel but my (very many meandering) thoughts are still mine.

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