My best friend and I have a tradition of trying somewhere new for afternoon tea in London for each other’s birthdays so I thought I should review some of the places we’ve been.
For her birthday this year, we chose 4* The Grosvenor Hotel, in Victoria (not to be confused with the Marriott Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair). It’s a lovely Victorian building right next door to the station (so close in fact the hotel actually has its own entrance in the station), they’ve recently spent quite a few million restoring it and it shows. Inside it’s grand, everything is polished to within an inch of its life and you can imagine how impressive it must have been in the Victorian days.
The afternoon tea is served in a light and airy lounge with big windows overlooking the bustling street outside. It’s not an enormous room but the high ceilings, chandeliers and nice furnishings make a pleasant, not overly busy, setting for a relaxed afternoon tea or business meeting (there’s a few of these going on when we arrive). The dress code is fairly mixed with lots in suits, a couple in some sort of foreign military uniform and the odd tourist dressed more casually – so really anything goes!
We chose the champagne afternoon tea (I mean, it’s not really a birthday celebration without bubbles is it…). I arrived first and picked the big comfy armchairs right next to the window overlooking the street. It’s not a spectacular view but I loved watching all of the people rushing past, it makes being inside sipping fizz seem all the more relaxing.
When my friend arrived, we were quickly served our nice cold glasses of champagne and the afternoon tea itself arrived shortly afterwards. There was a selection of six or so teas, and as I don’t drink tea (I know… worst British person ever) they happily swapped my tea option for a freshly squeezed orange juice.
The afternoon tea consists of fairly standard (but tasty all the same) sandwich fillings. The fillings included chicken, egg, smoked salmon and cucumber. The sandwiches tasted fine but some had started to go a bit stale and had obviously been out on the side a while, while others were fresh. Saying that we still ate them all happily and took them up on their offer of a free refill of sandwiches, which is always a nice touch.
The scones were lovely and fluffy inside and there was a mix of fruit and plain. They came with clotted cream and there was a little stand of mini jam jars already on the table to help yourself to which I liked. I always think little jam jars are cute and it’s nice to be able to have a selection of flavours and a decent amount rather than one tiny pot and flavour. I went for one apricot and one blackcurrant.
The cakes were classic, tasty and seemed fresh. They weren’t mind-blowing or particularly bite-size so they did need to be tackled with a fork, but they were presented nicely and tasted good. There was a victoria sponge, chocolate sponge and a lime cheesecake each.
The service was attentive, and despite taking our time and chatting lots, we didn’t feel rushed at all. The official price is £36.95 for the champagne afternoon tea that we had, which I felt was really reasonable but if you’re thinking of going definitely take a look on Groupon because I think they offer really good deals (as with a lot of London afternoon teas).
Although this is something that I don’t expect as standard so it’s not a complaint, it’s worth noting that they didn’t do anything for my friend’s birthday (which they did know about in advance) – other places have brought out an extra mini slice of cake or just acknowledged the birthday when we arrived. So if you’d like an extra special touch for a celebration, it would be best to specifically ask/arrange with them in advance.
Overall, I would return to The Grosvenor Hotel for afternoon tea, especially with a Groupon voucher. If you’re looking for a classic afternoon tea and flavours at a reasonable price in a relaxing central London setting, then this is a great choice. This is the kind of place that would be perfect to bring any visiting tourists/family looking for a classic afternoon tea experience without the price tag of some of the more expensive, well-known spots.
Nearest tube: Victoria