Afternoon tea in London is a special occasion at any time of year, but at Christmas, going into the centre of the capital for a sumptuous afternoon tea experience makes this magical time of year all the more momentous.
Deciding where to go can be tricky. All of the big hotels laden with history and decadence offer afternoon tea. The Ritz, Claridge’s, The Dorchester, and many more all boast fine afternoon tea experiences in their own tea rooms. For me and my Dad, though, it’s always been all about one place: Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair.
Tucked away off the main parade of glitz and glamour that is Piccadilly, Brown’s is a luxury hotel that combines history with elegance and understated decadence. The English Tea Room at Brown’s is perhaps the centre point of the hotel; boasting open fireplaces, deep-seated armchairs, plush furnishings, and delicate china and silver three-tiered tea trays, this is the place to while away an afternoon during the festive season.
My Dad and I always go for a pre-drink before our afternoon tea extravaganza in the Brown’s Hotel bar, the Donovan Bar, a vibrant and fashionable bar with dimmed lighting, stripped back furnishings, and a really ‘cool’ vibe.
Moving through to the tea room where the afternoon tea is served, it’s impossible to avoid feeling festive. There are understated Christmas decorations on the mantelpiece, a pianist playing delightful Christmas songs on the grand piano, and a majestic Christmas tree.
We order the champagne afternoon tea, a feast made up of sandwiches, scones, cakes, and a glass of house champagne (Ruinart).
The sandwiches are delicious. The ham and cheese sandwich is packed full of mustardy flavour, the egg mayo offset by an intriguing hint of chilli, the smoked salmon bagel made spectacular by the fresh taste of the salmon, and the cucumber sandwich brought to life by the addition of dill. The turkey and cranberry sauce open sandwich was Christmas in the form of a delicate little sandwich.
The scones, for us anyway, are the high point of the tea. They are much smaller than the sort of scone you might expect at any other afternoon tea and are served warm. The smaller size means that they are more delicate and not as bready as larger ones, which I love. They melt in the mouth when combined with the clotted cream and strawberry jam.
The best thing about the scones and sandwiches, though, is that they are unlimited! The attentive waiters (a special mention to our lovely waiter this year, Mohammed) will ask if you want more once you finish your plate. We usually get through a few plates each of sandwiches and scones.
The top layer of cakes usually proves too much for us but they always allow us to take it home in a box for later! Needless to say the skills of the pastry chefs at Brown’s shine through in this top layer of sweet decadence.
Afternoon tea at Brown’s is not cheap, but in a way you don’t want it to be. This is a special place for a special tradition, offering a couple of hours of festive escapism in the heart of bustling London.
Categories: Restaurant reviews