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Afternoon Tea

    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.

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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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    Hitting the high notes – A limited edition jazz afternoon tea at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Hotel

    Our evening started as the sun set over the Hyde Park tree canopy. Shaking off my long day at a desk and having sat for a reflective half an hour, I was more than ready to slip into the Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel, to try out the limited edition Jazz Afternoon Tea with Binny & Aftab.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Sheraton Grand Park Lane Hotel
    but my verbose words are all mine.

    As I sank into the luscious carpet, the harpist gently strummed the final chords of a catchy pop tune (the song escapes me now) and I looked up to see the mischievous grin of Binny float through the door, Cheshire Cat style.

    We were shortly joined by Aftab, all smartly suited and booted, and we sank gratefully into our seats in the centre of the beautiful Palm Court. Twittering away as we caught up IRL, our waiter Paulo popped over to introduce himself and started the champagne flowing and charmingly checked our dietary requirements.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Presented with menus and a selection of teas – we were taken on a journey reaching back nearly a century, inspired by the golden era of Jazz during which the hotel first opened its doors in a glorious heyday of music and glamour.

    Advised by Paulo to choose a lighter tea from the 27 options (we loved him and his honest advice) Binny and Aftab were both enchanted with the spicy notes of the Zanzibar chai whilst I enjoyed the lovely Apple and Elderflower Green Tea.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The unique birdcage shaped tea tier was inspired by Sir Richard Bracewell Smith whom built the Park Lane hotel in the 1920’s and oversaw the placement of the groundbreaking internal steel structure, nicknamed “the birdcage”.

    #bloglife

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The finger sandwich array included honey roasted ham with celeriac & mustard rémoulade on beetroot bread (which we loved), smoked trout with pickled cucumber, horseradish mayonnaise, chicken curried mayonnaise on basil bread, free range egg served with mayonnaise and watercress, not to mention a gorgeous John Ross Smoked Salmon, Caper Cream,
    Dill & Seaweed Scone. Aftab and Binny asked for a couple of substitutions which were met without hesitation.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Then, the scones. Light, heavenly and accompanied by one of my favourite homemade jam selections ever – raspberry, lemon curd and peach, plus clotted cream just waiting to be slathered.

    “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As welcome as a flute lifted in delight after a thunderous brass run, the top tier was a delicate symphony of musically decorated sweet bites. I’ll stop labouring on the theme in a moment. (Spot the orchestra geek…)

    I couldn’t pick a favourite – none of them fell flat. A Sable Breton biscuit base topped with a light honey mousse and blackberry gêlée with a chocolate music sheet was both delicate and sharp, a coconut dacquoise with piña colada crème and tropical compote was a high note, the rich red velvet cake with orange butter reminded me of a cello trill and the chocolate tart with basil lime ganache and topped with an edible saxophone was perfect in cadence.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (9 music references in there if you happened to keep count.)

    Nattering long enough for the sun to dip below the horizon and the lights to dim for cocktails, we regretfully laid our eating instruments (10) and gathered our coats to go into the cold, cold night and many adventures.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I will definitely be returning.

    “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Psst. The limited edition Jazz afternoon tea at the Sheraton Grand is available Monday to Sunday 12:00pm – 7.30pm until 30 July 2017. Also worth noting are the times that a Harpist or Guitarist, Pianist or Jazz Band accompany the tea – a schedule is available on their website.

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    72 hours in Chester

    Chester is the first holiday I’ve ever booked through the power of Instagram alone. We had been looking for somewhere as a long weekend break (well, I say we, but I had actually been put on a travel ban which Mr Kiwi now mostly denies, his baby blues all innocent) when I spotted that a friend of mine had day tripped up to Chester. It was beautiful.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    So firing up the laptop, I booked us a cheeky little Cheshire staycation.

    Simply hopping on a train and scooting through the rolling countryside is a pleasure that I can’t get enough of – the excuse to lose myself in the pages of a book to the soothing background clickety-clack of train wheels and whistling winds – it’s a special kind of bliss.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We didn’t have many plans further than booking a hotel within the ancient city walls for the first two nights. Our mission was simple relaxation. Upon arrival mid-afternoon we checked in and promptly snoozed – because hopping on a train is clearly hard work…

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Waking up from our nap (cause adults) we googled a few things to do the next day, and set off wandering through the city centre.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    After a quick meal, and tipped off by our hotel concierge, we found ourselves nestled in a Tudor beamed locals pub tucked into The Rows. It feels like a dream city – full of ancient buildings, crooked lanes and history on every corner. It is also such a foodie city – with quirky pubs and great restaurants galore (we visited almost everyone) – not to mention having a barbershop/hairdressers on nearly every corner.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. It has a number of medieval buildings, but some of the black-and-white buildings within the city centre are Victorian restorations. It was so pretty – and the shopping is pretty good as well.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The next day dawn bright and with blue skies. We gambolled through Grosvenor Park, hopped onto a bus tour (in the cutest historic bus) and stopped for a pretty good flat white…

    …before boarding for a rather unique afternoon tea.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh, and we made sure to photograph the second most photographed clock in England. When in Rome and all that…

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    For our last night we snuck a little further into the countryside. Watch this space.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Is Chester on your ‘to visit’ list yet? It was a cracking staycation – compact with enough options to keep you amused but not enough to overwelm.

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