My first Afternoon Tea of 2018! Where would I pick to go? When I came across the Afternoon Tea at the W Hotel, I was immediately intrigued, it caught my eye and I needed to find out more. The W Hotel is part of the world-renowned Marriott Group of hotels whose fierce reputation and exemplary service in the hospitality industry has consistently won them numerous awards. The super cool, hip and trendy W Hotel looks over the hustle and bustle of Soho and their concept is centred around music, art and fashion. You notice that straight away when you enter the hotel, there is no lobby or reception to speak of, you’re guided to the lifts where you ascend to the hub of the hotel. It’s dark and glossy interior with disco like glitter balls lends a very 80’s art nouveau bordering on futuristic vibe.
I was greeted and led to my table, a very light, clean and stylish dining area with plush turquoise sofas and rows upon rows of designer plates on shelves opposite me. I asked my waitress to explain what the idea was behind these numerous plates. Essentially, they’re there to enhance the hotel’s rock and roll fashion style. The plates are for sale if anyone fancies a plate embellished with rock stars and colours of the Union Jack flag, I didn’t ask how much each one was.
I was swiftly asked if I’d like some tea, I found that a little bit strange since I was there to have Afternoon Tea, thus began my journey of this very unusual Afternoon Tea experience. I wasn’t given a menu to choose a tea or to explain the type of Afternoon Tea I was having – a description of sandwiches and pastries are always in a menu which didn’t materialise. Furthermore, I found it quite strange that the waiter said my sandwiches “were just being made”. My tea arrived in modern earthenware type cups and stainless steel teapot, the milk in a mini milk bottle which was quite cute. As part of the Tea, I’d be getting a glass of prosecco which never arrived, I had to remind the waitress if there was prosecco coming which I found embarrassing, I hate to ask for things.
The sandwiches took 20 minutes to arrive, so I guess they really were making them to order, this was not a hotel accustomed to Afternoon Tea I had decided. My waiter described what the Afternoon Tea was about, the type of sandwiches and pastries on offer and then I presume the highlight were the four alcoholic shots that were meant to be paired with their corresponding cakes. The sandwiches and cakes didn’t arrive on a customary tiered stand or china plates as is common for Afternoon Tea and that’s fine, I didn’t expect the super stylish W Hotel to do anything but weird and wacky. A sleek black glossy box arrived with sandwiches, cakes and scones tucked way inside in their own little compartments. I wasn’t sure what to make of this! mini draws with sliding doors hiding my Afternoon Tea? I’m all for something unusual but that’s when I started to wonder if this Afternoon Tea was style over substance. On top of the box were the four shot glasses of the hotel’s signature cocktails which are meant to complement each cake.
The cream had melted all over the Ristretto Martini which is unacceptable, Afternoon Tea should be pristine.
The cakes looked nice, unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of the sandwiches. The choice of sandwiches were beef and horseradish, tomato, basil and mozzarella, cucumber and cream cheese and cream cheese with salmon on cranberry bread, this sandwich was actually very nice and probably my favourite.
I’m a stickler for perfection and I guess I’ve been spoiled by the numerous amounts of perfect Afternoon Teas I’ve had before. The sandwiches were different in size, uneven and one had so much filling, it resembled a doorstep size sandwich I get at my local sandwich shop and the bread on a couple of the sandwiches was slightly dry however, what they lacked in looks certainly made up for in taste especially the salmon on fruity cranberry bread. The scones were hidden inside another compartment with accompanying strawberry jam and clotted cream. Although very small, the scones were lovely and warm with a biscuitty crumb, but I only had one as I didn’t want to be too full to enjoy the cakes and corresponding cocktails. I noticed that I was not brought a plate and I didn’t bother asking for one, so I had to use the plate that my cup of tea was sitting on. The waiter realised this mistake at the very end of my Afternoon Tea by which time, I did not need a plate.
This is where it gets interesting! The cocktails to match the cakes which were sitting on top of the box in the order of where the cakes were in the box. I’d completely forgotten which one was for which cake though but I just guessed and to be honest, I don’t think it really matters.
The cakes were four in total, Apple Sphere with Avocado Mousse and Apple Compote, that was matched with a Ristretto Martini so that means a very strong coffee flavour cocktail. Carrot and Cardamom Cake with Lime Mousse and popping candy was matched with a zesty Lady Marmalade Mojito. We then have a Rosemary and Chocolate Shortbread Cup filled with Mango Mousse and liquorice marshmallow married with a Black Forest Sour and finally a Golden Chocolate Cylinder with Devil Cake and Mandarin Compote and candy floss paired with a Furios George cocktail.
The cakes were quite nice, I think my favourite was the Golden Chocolate Cylinder and the Carrot and Cardamom cake. I really liked the rich chocolate sponge inside the Chocolate Cylinder; in fact, I think the Ristretto Cocktail would have been perfect for this cake instead but as I said, I don’t think it really matters which order you have cocktail and cake. I found the other two cakes a bit bland, the marshmallow sitting on top of the Rosemary and Chocolate shortbread was too hard and chewy and I certainly couldn’t detect any rosemary.
What can I say about the cocktail shots, to be honest, not a lot. I found them offensively strong and potent, there was far too much alcohol which masked the flavour of the cocktails, I think the liquorice flavour was more evident in the cocktail rather than the cake. I do like a drink and I’ll go as far as saying that I can take a drink or two, but I really found the shots far too strong and really spoiled the flavour of the cakes rather than complement them. I couldn’t finish them, I need to add that they weren’t a drink per se, they were in a jelly form but a very soft set jelly, I suppose you could have downed them in one.
My impression of the hotel is of a super modern and stylish hotel that has a hip almost punky feel to it probably attracting a younger clientele. I loved the bar area, I can see myself coming here for drinks pre or post dinner but overall the hotel isn’t really my style; that’s not the hotel’s fault, it’s just a matter of taste because I’m a traditionalist at heart.
As far as the Afternoon Tea is concerned, it was definitely style over substance. Afternoon Tea at the W Hotel is nothing to sing home about, unfortunately, far too many silly mistakes were made and to point out an obvious one, the cocktail shots should have arrived half-way through Afternoon Tea. They arrived the same time as everything else and I guess that would be to add a wow factor but some of them had an almost ice cream like topping which just dissolved by the time I got around to eating the cakes; this should have been better thought out. To add, because the cream had melted on the Ristretto Martini, it was running down the shot glass and that’s just not acceptable, it’s a sloppy mistake.
The cakes were average and the sandwiches although tasted nice didn’t look as pristine as they should have done. Furthermore, I couldn’t understand why I had to wait 20 minutes for the sandwiches to arrive or why they should have been made to order. My Afternoon Tea was sadly lacking the finishing touches and emulating the words of top chefs “it should have been executed better”. For me, it’s the little things that make a perfect Afternoon Tea or anything for that matter and the important touches were sadly missing in the W Hotel’s interpretation of Afternoon Tea. The idea is certainly ingenious but for the concept to succeed, the W Hotel really need to get the little things right and then and only then, this Afternoon Tea could be very clever indeed.
My Afternoon Tea cost £47 including prosecco and service. All photos are my own.
W Hotel Leicester Square
10 Wardour Street
London W1 6QF
020 7758 1000