Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane – The Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL PARK LANE – THE CHRISTMAS UNWRAPPED AFTERNOON TEA

Words and photos by by Nicole Chui (Instagram: @nicolemmapearl) and myself.

Located on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane is the Wellington Lounge, a comfortable space which offers views of the street (minus the noise) and the edges of Hyde Park. The Wellington Lounge is a lovely spot and a great place for spending time on long chats while enjoying a lovely afternoon tea. Since the holidays are approaching, it was only natural for us to opt for their special “Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea” menu (£42 including a champagne cocktail), and boy was that festive.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Champagne cocktails

Intercontinental Hotel – Champagne cocktails

To start the course of Christmas Afternoon Tea, we were poured a generous amount of the champagne cocktail, champagne with a pear-infused cognac and a small dash of Glenmorangie whiskey. The cocktail was really fabulous, and the fruity addition was a wonderfully refreshing way to kick start the holiday spirit. Following that, the food slowly began to make its way towards our table. We started off with some warm savoury items inspired by Christmas dinner which included a stilton, chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and a mini honey roast root vegetable pie completed with gravy served from an adorable mini gravy jug. Both of these were really delicious, particularly the pie with its excellent pastry, rustic, homely flavours and gorgeous gravy.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Savoury selection

Intercontinental Hotel – Savoury selection

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Afternoon Tea at The White Lion – Aldeburgh, Suffolk

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE WHITE LION

Words and photos by Food Porn Nation and myself.

The Sunday of our recent visit to Aldeburgh happened to be Mother’s Day and we welcomed the opportunity to try the afternoon tea at The White Lion Hotel in Adleburgh. The pastry chef at The White Lion is Anmar Odendal, an award winning wedding cake designer. Through her business CRUMB, she was recognised by the wedding industry awards as the best wedding cake designer in the East of England in 2013.

Our afternoon tea was floral inspired and included a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries with a choice of tea, a glass of champagne and a little pot of flowers for mum, all at an unbelievable price of £20. It was staggeringly good value and difficult to think that we could get so much for so little. At an equivalent London establishment, an afternoon tea such as this would most likely have cost at least £35 to £40.

The selection of finger sandwiches were tasty and included standard fillings such as cucumber, ham, egg and watercress. The scones were rather alluring as they presented us with an engaging texture. The exterior was crunchy and the interior was soft. Served warm, the scones went swimmingly with the clotted cream and yummy homemade raspberry jam.

London Food Blog - The White Lion

The White Lion – Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Tea at The Rose Lounge, Sofitel Hotel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

Mum was in town visiting and so I decided to take her to afternoon tea at the Rose Lounge, Sofitel Hotel St James. I love taking visitors for afternoon tea as I can’t think of anything more quintessentially English for a Sunday afternoon treat. The Sofitel Hotel is a gorgeous hotel and epitomises the height of elegance. We only walked through the lobby and The Rose Lounge, but you can tell this is one classy hotel.

The Rose Lounge is where the afternoon tea is held and it is as pretty as pretty can be. The space is cozy and quaint, although the tables are probably a little bit too small. But we loved the décor and thought it was perfectly decorated for an afternoon tea experience. The room was feminine and charming with the glorious sound of a harpist playing in the corner of the lounge to really set the mood.

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

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Lanes of London – Afternoon Tea

Lanes of London pays tribute to the great multiculturalism that is the hallmark of the English capital by drawing from its many and varied culinary pockets for inspiration. Head Chef Anshu Anghotra trained at Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc’s culinary school at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and cooks an all day menu designed for sharing with four key sections, each of which have been named after a well known London Lane. There’s ‘Brick Lane’ for some fiery, spicy flavours; ‘Edgware Road’ for some Middle Eastern exoticism; ‘Kingsland Road’ for the fragrant aromas of Asia and ‘Portobello Road’ for a touch of eclectic comfort dining. Its an interesting menu and extends to British classics including fish and chips. What’s more, there’s also afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and pastries (£23 or £29 with a glass of champagne).

Lanes of London is a really engaging restaurant with a classically smart décor, which is sophisticated yet comfortable. Located in the Marriot Hotel on Park Lane, it’s like a little oasis that makes for a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. We had gone to Lanes of London for afternoon tea, but tempted by the rather engaging all day menu we decided to try some fried chicken with a honey and sesame sauce (£12) from the Portobello Road section of the menu and the Cornish lamb cutlets (£10.50) first.

Lanes of London - Fried chicken

Fried chicken

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The Sharq Village & Spa Doha

The Sharq Village & Spa, Doha is a gorgeous Hotel run by the famous Ritz-Carlton Group. Built like a traditional Qatari village, it blends a unique traditional desert castle design with modern amenities. The hotel features two pools, beach access, a string of restaurants, its own traditional Arab bazaar and an award winning Six-Senses Spa.

The Pool

With a day in transit in Doha before heading to Dubai, I decided to seek out a bit of sun, choosing The Sharq Village & Spa as it offers pool day passes to non-hotel guests (QR350 on Fridays and Saturdays – about £60, QR200 the rest of the week – about £34). The pool area is gorgeous with both pools being special and unique in their own way. The larger of the two is a uniquely designed infinity pool, but the smaller of the two backs onto the beach and offers a striking bird’s-eye view of downtown Doha.

The Sharq - view from the pool with downtown Doha in the background

View from the pool with downtown Doha in the background

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Classic West End Afternoon Tea at The Waldorf

I adore going to afternoon tea. The thought of some nice sandwiches followed by fluffy scones with mouthwatering clotted creams and lots of scrummy cakes can easily set my heart a flutter. But not only is it a nice afternoon thing to do, it’s also something novel to take guests from out of town to experience. I was recently invited by the website Afternoontea.co.uk to try one of the afternoon teas offered through their website. Afternoontea.co.uk allows you to search afternoon teas by location, which you can book at no additional cost. Furthermore, it occasionally has special offers. For instance, The Classic West End Afternoon Tea (£33.50) that I tried at the Waldorf also included a free glass of sparkling wine.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

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Sketch- Afternoon tea at The Parlour

Tea for 2 at The Parlour

Tea for 2

I love the odd spot of afternoon tea. There’s something so quintessentially English about this culinary art form, working your way through the sandwiches, the scones (with all that gorgeous clotted cream) and then the cakes, all washed down with tea. I remember up to about four or five years ago, some of the 5 star hotels in London would serve an opulent all-you-can-eat affair of unlimited quantities of sandwiches, scones and cakes. This doesn’t seem to be the norm anymore, which is probably better for my waist line, but is being sorely missed by my greedy little foodie disposition.

Having eaten at Sketch before, at both The Lecture Room and Library (the one star Michelin restaurant), and The Gallery (the less formal dining room), I thought it might be time to try out The Parlour, the third of the dining areas at Sketch. The patisserie on display look delectable, and there is a long list of amazing sounding concoctions on their cake menu such as the ‘Gariguette Tartlet’, (strawberry and black pepper cream tartlet, strawberry and tomato tartare, loukoum-rose water and strawberry icing); the ‘Red Pepper and Manjari Tart’, (manjari ganache with a flourless chocolate biscuit filled with preserved red peppers on a sweet dough base); and the ‘Hojicha éclair’ (pâte à choux filled with hojicha cream, hojicha fondant). All of these are priced at £5 each.

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Yauatcha – Afternoon Tea

Pâtisserie display at Yauatcha

Pâtisserie display at Yauatcha

Having afternoon tea at a Chinese restaurant might seem like a strange concept, but when that restaurant is Yauatcha, a one-star Michelin Restaurant, it seemed like something worth trying. Yauatcha’s creator is the famous restaurateur, Alan Yau who propelled Hakkasan to international fame. Alan sold his majority shareholding in both these restaurants in 2007, although he still maintains a management interest. Alan Yau aside, part of my desire to try the afternoon tea at Yauatcha was also due to the spectacular and mouth-watering pâtisserie display in the restaurant front. If you have ever walked past it, you might know what I mean.

Preparing for a spot of afternoon tea at Yauatcha, or any other decadent high tea location, requires a strategy similar to the kind that you might adopt for a major sporting event. Truth be told, I’ve never participated in a major sporting event, nor even a little one, so this is pure speculation on my part. But I imagine that you have to be disciplined in terms of what you eat, otherwise you might not last the distance or perform to your optimum. In this instance, a lack of preparation could have jeopardised my ability to gorge on all the delectable sandwiches and scrumptious cakes, and that was simply not on.

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