It has become a tradition that on each visit to London I try a new afternoon tea venue. On my last visit in October, I had tea at the Grosvenor House.
The hotel had a very different feel than the other three hotel teas I have experienced in London. The area where tea was served, the Park Room, was a large open room with tea tables sprinkled throughout. Windows looked out onto Hyde Park. The room is bright and filled with lots of light. The ceiling was low, maybe 10 feet high, which provided coziness to the room. For some reason the room’s decorating style felt a bit Art Deco to me.
The main tea station was a white padded leather bar on one side of the room. Our table was near the bar, with another table for two between us.
The room was centered with a grand piano which was being played during our tea. It was a beautiful backdrop to a lazy, enjoyable afternoon. When the pianist played, Goodbye England’s Rose/Candle in the Wind, it was a timely tribute to the twentieth anniversary of Princess Di’s death.
Our server was a very nice young lady from Poland. All of the servers were young women, and all were dressed in ivory, button down shirts and matching wrap skirts. This was the first time we have had female servers at a British afternoon tea.
The white pique cloth covered table was set with a lovely white china rimmed in jade green with a gold scroll design. It is so terribly gauche, but I had to turn a plate over to see who made the china. It was custom made for Grosvenor House by Dudson Fine China in England.
Tea started with an amuse bouche of apple and fennel sorbet/soup with a chocolate cookie ring dotted with pop rocks. It was delicious and an unexpected surprise when the pop rocks went off in one’s mouth.
The tea we chose was Grosvenor House Blend, which my nephew and I both enjoyed. There were six teas from which to choose, with the Grosvenor House blend being the most unusual. Of course, I had to try it!
The sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes were delicious! They were also beautifully presented.
The three-tier server had delicate, small pastries on the top tier, raisin and plain scones in the middle, and tea sandwiches on bottom. The jams that accompanied the scones were strawberry, rose petal, and gooseberry. Each one was so different in flavor and changed the taste of the scones. Although my nephew did not care for the rose petal, it was my favorite. It was such a mild and delicate flavor that wasn’t overly sweet like so many jams.
The next course served consisted of two open sandwiches. Extra care had been given to the Foreman’s smoked Scottish salmon and cream cheese open sandwich so that it looked like a rosebud with lettuce leaves. The Burford brown Clarence Court egg, mayonnaise and chives open sandwich was equally as attractive with a scoop of egg salad presented on the bread alongside a small egg half.
I was so full by the time the cake was offered, that I debated getting one. The server offered to wrap it so that I could take it with me, which I thought was sweet. However we were flying to Ireland the next morning, so it would have just been thrown away. I chose the lemon cake which was delightful.
The crowd was a bit louder than our experience at the Savoy or the Park Lane Hotel, but not as chaotic and loud as the Ritz. The table next to us had an American mom and adult daughter. Due to proximity, it felt like we had tea with them!
There was no dress code for the tea, so my nephew did not have to wear a jacket and tie. Of course, this year he had packed a sports coat and tie just in case they were needed. Our trip to the Oxfam last year, although memorable, did not result in a jacket that fit or a tie that was long enough.
As our afternoon wore on, the weather turned dark and windy. Our light-filled room began to darken, as can probably be seen in the photos that accompany this post. Thankfully the Tube station wasn’t far, so we weren’t out in the weather long.
Overall, we enjoyed the experience and would go back. The staff was warm and friendly (and very pretty as my nephew pointed out); the tea and food were tasty and filling; and the setting was serene and relaxing. To me, it seemed a bit more casual than the Ritz and Savoy teas, which as travelers we can sometimes appreciate.