A year since my last visit to The Milestone Hotel, it was a pleasure to be invited back to preview their Art Deco Afternoon Tea. One of the luxurious 5-star boutique hotels of the distinguished Red Carnation Hotel Collection, their exquisite afternoon tea was awarded a Highly Commended certificate at the Afternoon Tea Awards two years in a row in 2018 and 2019, in recognition of its high quality afternoon tea service. Taking its name from the original cast iron milestone that stands against one of its walls, The Milestone Hotel overlooks the grand Kensington Palace, former home to Princess Diana, and Kensington Gardens.
We were seated in the tranquil and cosy retreat of the Park Lounge beautifully illuminated by the rays of sunshine flooding in through the large ornate windows, a welcoming sense of warmth radiating from the fireplace. Sinking back into the deep and comfortable sofa chairs, we took in the mahogany wooden panels and shelves lined with antique books which exuded the feel of a private drawing room. To add some decadence to our Friday afternoon, bottles of champagne were popped and poured into elegant Art Deco champagne glasses.
Also in attendance that afternoon was Dan, Managing Director of PMD Tea, whom I had met previously at past Tea Academy Experiences, and whose immense knowledge of tea is certainly commendable.
We began with their selection of exquisite hand-cut finger sandwiches which included the classics such as free range egg mayonnaise with Hampshire watercress, Dingley Dell ham with seeded mustard mayonnaise, and cucumber with cream cheese. My two favourites were the smoked Scottish salmon and dill crème fraiche on rye bread, and their signature chicken mayonnaise coated with chopped almonds. I paired these with Dan’s recommendation of the Planter’s Organic Afternoon tea which had a lovely fragrance, handpicked on the rolling hills of Ceylon’s Uva region.
We then proceeded on to feast on the luxurious selection of hand-crafted pastries, referencing five of their newly designed and stunning suites. My attention was first drawn towards the striking green Salted Pistachio Cube which pays homage to their glamorous and beautifully designed Hermès Suite, recreated with an intricate colour scheme and a strong resemblance to the iconic bronze four plaster bed in the room.
Another favourite was the Caramelia Chocolate which represents their newest suite, the Ruhlmann Suite, inspired by the work of renowned French Art Deco artist Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann. Using the finest Valrhona chocolate, it definitely tasted as good as it looked.
The dual-coloured Blood Orange Meringue was presented in the shape of a cute lollipop, chosen by their talented Pastry team to represent the intense colour schemes of their beloved Mistinguett Suite. Inspired by the French actress and singer Mistinguett, who appeared in prestigious venues such as Moulin Rouge, the meringue represents the elegance of French glitz and glamour with a playful air of sophistication.
Other delectable pastries include a Red Velvet Cupcake that portrays their spectacular retro Erte Studio, with strong resemblance to the elaborate red and charcoal scheme. A Pineapple Macaron with a white chocolate ganache centre is aptly linked to the breath-taking Meghan Suite whilst the intricate design of a Grape & Champagne tartlet perfectly mirrors the iconic symmetrical patterns of the famous Art Deco period.
Accompanying the sweet delights was the Silver Tips tea that Dan recommended, hand-picked before sunrise on the Brunswick Estate, Maskeliya – a subtle yet aromatic tea that paired well without overpowering the flavours of the pastries.
Our freshly baked scones were served just as we were finishing up the pastries – buttery plain and raisin scones accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream and home-made strawberry preserve.
To top it all off, we were treated to a couple of famous cocktails: The Boulevardier and Grasshopper, which both are associated with the Prohibition period. The Boulevardier is one of the most timeless Negroni variations, a whiskey-based variation that first appeared in 1927 at The New York Bar in Paris. By switching out gin for American whiskey, bartender Harry McElhone created a more rounded drink with a subtle bite on the finish. The Grasshopper, a creamy classic dessert cocktail, certainly appealed to my sweet taste buds, invented at Tujague’s Restaurant in New Orleans in the early 1920s. Crème de menthe lends the drink its signature green hue, combined with heavy cream and crème de cacao to create a liquid after-meal treat.
And of course the experience would not be complete without a tour of the hotel and the stunning suites that was the inspiration for all those delightful cakes and pastries.
Officially launched on 9th March 2020, the Art Deco Afternoon Tea is served at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm every day, and is priced from £55 per person – vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free alternatives are also available.
For the more enthusiastic tea aficionados, have a look into their PMD Tea Academy which is priced at £70 per person (£80 including champagne) and runs bimonthly between 2pm-4pm – the next dates are 4th April, 6th June, 1st August, 31st October, and 5th December.
- I was invited to review the Art Deco Afternoon Tea – all views are my own, whilst photos were captured by myself and my afternoon tea companion, Jacob Hill.