Slowly ticking off my list of festive afternoon teas this season, which I must say has so far been going smooth and steadily, I made a long overdue visit to another iconic 5-star London hotel, Grosvenor House on Park Lane, one of the capital’s most desirable addresses overlooking Hyde Park. Open since 1929, the hotel celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019, which was also the year that I last visited for the launch of their Nutcracker Afternoon Tea during the festive season.
Their ‘Anna Afternoon Tea’ is named after Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who is understood to be responsible for the custom of Afternoon Tea in the early 1800s, and is served in the elegant Park Room. The Festive Afternoon Tea has currently taken over in the run up to Christmas, which we enjoyed in our prime table by the window with a view of Hyde Park – the multi-coloured lights of Winter Wonderland flickering in the distance, having made its return after a brief hiatus due to the pandemic. The space was bright and airy, and had a warm and welcoming ambience, complemented by the soothing tunes of the live pianist.
A glass of bubbles is always the best way to start an afternoon tea experience, both of us like-minded Champagne aficionados opted for the Lanson Le Rosé Champagne. From their selection of rare and exclusive teas, which all sounded intriguing, I ordered the High Mountain, an oolong tea made from Si Ji Chun tea leaves from the peaks of Taiwan’s Nantou County. An appealing shade of golden-yellow, it had a lovely blend of fruity and floral aromas with a subtle sweet aftertaste.
Whilst we waited for our afternoon tea to be served, we enjoyed a refreshing amuse-bouche concoction of lemon with soda, passion fruit & mango, topped with candy floss.
Upon being presented at our table on a traditional three-tiered stand, we began with the selection of delicate finger sandwiches which included:
Cucumber with garden mint butter
Smoked Oakham chicken with tarragon & crème fraîche
Roast Aberdeen Angus beef with creamed horseradish
Honey roast Yorkshire ham with Coleman’s English mustard
North Atlantic cold-water prawn with classic Marie Rose sauce
To add to the excitement (because who doesn’t get excited about sandwiches?) we were also served a couple of open sandwiches, sweet brioche bread topped with Burford Brown Clarence Court egg mayonnaise, and the other topped with Foreman’s smoked Scottish salmon with cream cheese which I was particularly keen on.
Golden and buttery, with just the right level of crumbliness, we enjoyed our plain and raisin buttermilk scones with Devonshire clotted cream and not one but six choices of British preserves (guests are usually allowed to choose two varieties, but of course on this occasion I was taste-testing for “research purposes”!). These included strawberry, rose petal, rhubarb & ginger, gooseberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant – I enjoyed them all, but if I had to choose, my top choices would be the rhubarb & ginger, and the blackcurrant.
The top tier of afternoon tea pastries had been given a festive makeover and recreated to represent some of our favourite festive icons; a ‘Rudolph’ hazelnut chocolate mousse with crème fraîche complete with a round red nose, a dark chocolate praline tart with clotted cream in the shape of a Christmas tree, a Pear William glazed with Valrhona white chocolate ‘Christmas bauble’, a vanilla mousse with spiced plum compote ‘Snowball’ on a shortbread biscuit, and last but not least, a red ‘Santa’ cheesecake macaron with a sweet cranberry coulis filling. To accompany these sweet delights, I ordered a fresh pot of tea, the Muskani, a rare and delicate tea which had a musky fragrance and sweet Muscat-like finish.
My attention had been drawn towards the display of festive cakes from the moment I entered the Park Room, and between the two most festive-looking options, the Yule log and Christmas cake, I eventually decided on the latter, which they kindly packed away for us in takeaway boxes. As a child, I was never too keen on fruit cakes, but my taste buds have thankfully ‘matured’ over time – the boozier the better. And to top off our festive experience, we were treated to some mulled wine, which was just what we needed to warm us up before our journey back home. A special word of thanks to the wonderful staff, Herlyn & Altay, for the wonderful hospitality, and I look forward to returning soon.
The Festive Afternoon Tea will be exclusively available from 26th November 2021 to 2nd January 2022, priced from £65.00 per person. Further information on bookings can be found on their website.
- My afternoon tea experience at Grosvenor House was complimentary – views and photos are my own.