You could be forgiven for thinking you were stepping into the lounge of a grand country house, the aptly named Rose Lounge at the elegant Sofitel St James Hotel is a comforting warm and very cosy and very rosy lounge. I say aptly named because it pays homage to the equally elegant flower, the English rose.
Some may say that the rose goes hand in hand with England, after all, the delicate, pale, almost fragile-like rosy beauty of an English lady is often described as an English Rose because her beauty and blush is much like the hue of the delicate rose so I was rather surprised that the Sofitel’s intimate lounge is dedicated to the Rose but it is in every essence French. Everything inside the Rose Lounge is French from the candles to the books on display, the rose flower arrangements and the art adorning the walls, I would go as far as saying it also reminded me of a French boudoir!
La Vie en Rose, the famous song by France’s national treasure and chanteuse, Edith Piaf is the title of the Rose Lounge’s Afternoon Tea – an Afternoon Tea with a French Touch and I couldn’t wait to try it. Even the tables at the Rose Lounge are in the shape of a rose and of course, the china is pink, a beautifully elegant scalloped design edged in gold including the matching tiered china stand.
La Tea en Rose
Naturally, it wouldn’t be La Tea en Rose without some very special rose inspired teas and the Rose Lounge have two very different teas on offer.
Rose Buds: Harvested at the beginning of June, the rosebuds are air-dried to preserve their colour, texture and perfume. This is a delicate infusion with a subtle rose flavor.
Bulgare: Cross cultural encounter between fruits from Europe and rose from Bulgaria come together for this black tea blend. Flavoured with raspberry and blood orange aromas, rose essential oil, this tea is embellished with orange peel and flower petals.
Afternoon Tea at the Rose Lounge begins with a choice of free-flowing champagne or with just a glass of champagne, Moët & Chandon to be precise or if you prefer something different and pink, the Edgerton Pink Gin Signature Cocktail is a lovely alternative. I decided to go for a glass of champagne as it was only 12 noon. I was also offered a refreshing glass of lemon water which I thought was a nice touch. My tea choice was English Breakfast tea which came in a heavy and unusual oriental inspired earthen teapot, but I thought it made a nice change to the usual silverware.
As well as the Rose teas, there is a choice of Dammann teas (gourmet teas from France) rare and seasonal, light and green teas, black teas and something quite unusual and described as a sweet tea. Coquelicot Gourmand, a black tea flavoured with flower petals and poppies with biscuit and marzipan flavours or Macaron Cassis Voilette, Sencha green tea with blackcurrant, violet and macaron flavours of biscuit and almonds, a curious blend which I will try on my next visit. I always go for a light floral tea with my pastries, so I chose to have the Rose Bud tea rather than the Bulgare Rose.
The sandwiches on offer are a mix of traditional with a twist, I was disappointed to see there was no description of the sandwiches in the menu but making a note, they were:
Avocado, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
Ham and Cheese with English Mustard and a layer of tomato bread
Mozzarella and Houmous on Tomato Bread
Egg Mayonnaise and Cress
Plain and Raisin Scones with Rose Petal, Raspberry & Strawberry Jam served with Clotted Cream & Lemon Curd.
Sweet Pleasure – A Chocolate Delice, crispy biscuit layers with hazelnut and chocolate mousse and a chocolate shard.
Raspberry Rose – A giant Macaron flavoured with Raspberry and Rose and filled with a Raspberry Rose Cream
The sandwiches were delicious, beautifully soft and fresh and evenly cut, I’m a stickler for perfection so I always look out for perfectly cut sandwiches when having Afternoon Tea. I found the tomato bread complimented the fillings well and my personal favourite was quite unusually for me, the cheese and ham. I think this is because there was a layer of another cheese possibly a Red Leicester as well as slice of tomato and white bread, the addition of the mustard lifted this usually boring sandwich.
The scones were not very big or light or soft and airy but small and quite crumbly, nevertheless they were very flavoursome and I loved the rose, raspberry and strawberry jam flecked with rose petals and the lemon curd which I tried with the other half of my scone. Normally, I’d be getting quite full at this point which I wasn’t and that’s because I wasn’t offered more sandwiches but in hindsight, this was a good thing because the best bit for me was yet to come.
I must admit, I was very surprised to see only two cakes on the stand but given their size, I knew why, and, in a way, it suited the La Vie en Rose Afternoon Tea because what was provided were cakes that go hand in hand with romance and that is rose and chocolate. The macaron was huge, but I adore macarons so I was very happy with this; a raspberry and rose chewy macaron deep pinky red in colour with a creamy sweet filling of rose and raspberry cream topped with a rose petal of course. The Chocolate Delice was a square of chocolate heaven! A base of crispy buttery biscuit layers filled a chocolate and hazelnut mousse and a tempered chocolate top dusted with sparkly gold. I absolutely relished both desserts, they were delicious and beautiful to look at, because I wasn’t too full, I was able to really enjoy both.
I really enjoyed the French themed La Vie en Rose Afternoon Tea, the rose is one of my favourite flowers, its appearance, its essence and beauty and that’s what the Rose Lounge represents and of course their Afternoon Tea. I could very easily have settled back into the comfort of my rose coloured velvet armchair with a good book and stayed here for hours, if the harp was playing in the background it would have been the icing on the cake of this pretty and very French Afternoon Tea.
Sofitel St James is owned by the French hotel group Accor, unmistakably French but oh so British which is reflected in the elegant and contemporary décor of the hotel. I learnt that Coco Chanel was the inspiration behind the hotel’s bar, it’s a hotel I would very much like to discover more of.
My Afternoon Tea cost £43.88 (includes12% service). Opinions and photos are my own.
Free flowing Champagne Afternoon Tea £52
With a glass of Champagne £39
With an Edgerton Pink Gin Signature Cocktail £35
Traditional Afternoon Tea £32
Tailor-made Children’s Afternoon Tea £18 for one or £30 for two
6 Waterloo Place
London SW1Y 4AN
020 7747 2200