Thursday, 7 July 2016

Royal-tea: Afternoon Tea fit for a Queen at the InterContinental London Park Lane

Finger sandwiches, champagne, scones... It's safe to say that afternoon tea is quite a classy English affair. Fit for royalty, you might say.

But the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane took it upon themselves this summer to create an even more Royal tea: Royal-tea, if you will.

(You will because that's what it's called.)

For one month and one month only, to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, Park Lane's most prestigious address offered their most royal of teas. The day I visited with my flatmate, Jess, it was actually the final weekend Royal-tea was on so I'm afraid it's no longer available, but it was so lovely I thought I'd share the experience with you all anyway.

Plus, the hotel have various other teas on offer and I know I want to go back to try them all. Asap.

The InterContinental was the official hotel of The Patron's Lunch (celebrating Her Majesty's 90th), and a portion of the Royal-Tea proceeds went to the new charity, The Patron's Fund. I like that. So essentially, we were helping the world by eating cake. I know. So selfless.
After arriving at the hotel and making our way through the swanky lobby, we were shown to our table by the window (looking out on to Hyde Park Corner!) in the plush Wellington Lounge.
The interior was luxurious but still comfortable, elegant but not pretentious.

As part of the tea, guests have the option of kicking things off with a Pimm's Royale, which is a wonderful new fruity, fizzy, delicious cocktail made with (unsurprisingly) Pimm's but also champagne.
I can imagine the conversation now:

"How can we make a classic Pimm's better?"

"Uhhh... dunno. How do we make anything better?"

"Add champagne?"

"Yeah. Sorted."

It was fabulous and certainly set the summery tone for the proceedings.
And what is a tea without tea? Nothing, that's what. NOTHING.

No, OK. I'm getting carried away. It'd still be pretty good. But we of course had to make the most of the wide range of teas on offer at the InterContinental. Luckily our wonderful waiter Luigi was on hand to recommend the best of the best.

We started off with the darjeeling second flush - apparently it's the champagne of tea world, guys.
Luigi said we should drink the tea black and we duly obliged. It was incredibly smokey and, to be perfectly honest, not my favourite tea ever. But it did complement the sandwiches nicely, and if you'll bear with me juuuuust a moment, I'll tell you all about those.

At the same time as the darjeeling, we also sipped the keemun. Word on the street is this black tea was Queen Victoria's fave. And hey, if it's good enough for Vicky, it's good enough for me. (Was that treason? Am I going to be hanged?!) Anyway, the tea was fruitier and Jess and I both really liked it.

Alrighty, on to the aforementioned sandwiches.
The InterContinental had kept things classic with traditional finger sandwiches - no brioche buns, bruschetta or deconstructed fajitas here.

On an array of soft breads (no dry ends, hoorah!), we had: smoked salmon with cream cheese, lobster and shrimp with marie-rose sauce, egg and cress, honey roast ham with English mustard, and coronation chicken.

And because I'm a fussy little fuss-pot who doesn't like fish or seafood, the kitchen kindly gave me a smokey aubergine one and an extra coronation chicken instead. They were all scrumptious but oh my days, that coronation chicken. They'd added tiny dried apricot chunks and it was just fantastic. I could've eaten about 15. (But I didn't, Mum, don't worry).

Sandwiches demolished, it was time for a tea-swap to carry us on to the sweets. Luigi brought us an absolutely divine chocolatey tea, the name of which escapes me (soz, gang), as well as the No 1 Park Lane tea, which was another keemun blended with vanilla. They were both sweeter than the first two we'd had and I loved them. Safe to say Luigi knows his teas!

Scone time!
We were informed that the InterContinental recommends eating scones Devonshire style, ie cream first. Franchement I'd consider it an error to do it any other way, so I was definitely happy to oblige.

Having been served after we'd finished our sandwiches, the sultana and buttermilk scones were delightfully warm and not in the slightest bit dry.
Again, the InterContinental kept to tradition with classic strawberry jam, but why mess with something so good, eh? Plus for the theme it'd be bonkers to change things.

And we'd made it to the home straight: the cakes.
As I'm sure you can see, they were as cute as one would hope from a five-star afternoon tea, and I loved how much thought had gone into each one.
There was "The Queen's Summer Garden Party" which was a champagne and gooseberry fool - I absolutely loved this. It was creamy and fruity and light. Divine.

Then we had "The Queen's Hat" which was a tipsy sponge sandwiched together with a layer of fruity jam. It was nice but nothing too special.
"The Queen's Handbag" was a coffee and walnut cake covered in rich chocolate. This was was very strong on the coffee front so wasn't my fave, but the chocolate ganache was delish.
And finally, "The Queen's Crown", which was a biscuit base topped with sponge, raspberry jelly and vanilla mousse (channelling a Victoria sponge, you see). I loved this one too.
It had all been rather indulgent and rich, and so when Luigi brought us each a refreshing, light, fruity iced tea to finish on, it was perfect.
It wasn't too sweet and you could barely taste any tea, but it was the first time I'd had iced tea at an afternoon tea. Wow, I used the word "tea" three times in that sentence. How exciting.

What a delight it had been to enjoy a traditionally British afternoon tea at such a prestigious hotel. The service, as you'd expect, was faultless and the food was all of the highest quality. It was a lovely thing to do to toast Her Majesty The Queen on her 90th birthday! Long may she reign.

Jess and I were guests of the InterContinental London Park Lane but my review is totally honest, I promise. Find out more about afternoon tea at the hotel here.


  1. Those cakes are so beautiful! My Mum eats her scones Devonshire style too - she says the cream is the equivalent of butter going on first if you were making a sandwich. :)

    1. Your mum is so right, Rebecca! I'm glad she shares my view x

  2. This looks wonderful - although reading it pre-lunchtime was not my finest move because now I am SO hungry! The Pimms champagne cocktails sounds like the drink of dreams, might have to have a little go at some sort of twist on that :)
    Jennifer x
    Ginverella | Lifestyle Blog

    1. Oh nooooo! Sorry Jenny. Yes, definitely make your own Pimm's Royale. It was dreamy. x

  3. I swear you're trying out a new afternoon tea every time I check your blog out ahaha! Sounds delicious, especially intrigued by the smoked aubergine sandwich?? Hello! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua : Food | Travel | Italy

    1. Yup, and it is not doing my waistline any favours but OH WELL. It was a super tasty sandwich! x

  4. This post made me super hungry, the tea is so beautifully presented. Just wondering where your floral top was from, its so pretty and perfect for afternoon tea.
    Lady Law Student

    1. Oops, sorry Catriona! Thank you so much - it's a dress actually and was from H&M but I'm afraid I got it a while ago. Sorry! x


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