The Intercontinental Park Lane is fast becoming one of my favourite places to have Afternoon Tea.
The hotel might not be as iconic as some on Park Lane but there is so much history behind its spot at number 145 because the hotel is the former childhood home of Her Majesty the Queen. I love its elegance and classic style and the Wellington Lounge is so serene and warm against the back drop of soothing live piano, it makes for a perfect setting to take Afternoon Tea. Last time I was here, I tried the very innovative High Coffee which I was so impressed by even though not very traditional, I have to admit though, it was pretty good but I did miss my tea.
Today, I was here to try their Royal Afternoon Tea inspired by ingredients from the Commonwealth countries of which the Queen is Head and has visited over the last 70 years. What does it mean to be the Head of the Commonwealth? It’s the “symbol of the free association of independent member nations” of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation that currently comprises 53 sovereign states according to information garnered from Wikipedia.
Royal Afternoon Tea is represented by 10 countries in the form of sandwiches, scones and sweets which sounded so appetising, I was really looking forward to trying. What I like about Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge is that it doesn’t just involve sandwiches, The Royal Tea event begins with an Australian Wagyu Beef & Mushroom Pie and in High Coffee, there isn’t a traditional sandwich in sight. Everything arrives on china plates which are placed on the silver stand that stands next to you. I chose to move away from my usual English Breakfast tea and try the Darjeeling as recommended by my waitress, Ramona.
Crab & Smoked Salmon with avocado & spinach bread, Canada
Spiced Peri-Peri Shrimps on lemon bread, Ghana
Tandoori Paneer with Mint & Raita on carrot bread, Pakistan
Manuka Honey Roasted Ham on tomato bread from New Zealand
Caribbean Jerk Coronation Chicken on corn bread, Jamaica
When the plate arrived, I was immediately struck by the colourful display in front of me. I’ve never seen bread of this nature or colour before so I was eager to get stuck in. As I expected, the Wagyu beef pie was simply delicious, richly savoury and meaty served with buttery mash in a cute mini jar placed in between foliage on a single plate, it was dramatic, and it worked for me.
Unfortunately, that’s where it ended. The display of sandwiches looked amazing and although pleasant enough in taste, I thought they were dry and there wasn’t the hit of flavour that I had hoped for. I believe that in trying to achieve the vivid colours of the vegetables in the bread, it compromised on the soft and spongy texture and flavour that bread should have.
Furthermore, the colours in the bread actually changed the colour of my urine, apologies for that bit of information but I feel I must mention it. I believe that there was food colouring in the bread in order to achieve the vivid colours needed to represent the bright orange of carrot, yellow for the lemon bread, green of the spinach bread etc.. I did enjoy the flavour of the sandwiches, my favourites were the Canadian salmon and crab which was topped with what looked like caviar like pearls and the Caribbean Jerk chicken. The flavours were a great mix of vibrancy and authenticity but needed to be more intense.
Being represented by Great Britain were of course the scones served with thick clotted cream and jam, they were the perfect bouncy texture and size and did Great Britain proud. Along with tea, a glass of Perrier Jouët champagne is included in the price and I was also offered a complimentary glass which was very kind of the Wellington Lounge. I wasn’t a fan of Darjeeling tea; it was too weak for me but I’m glad I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried something different. For my sweets, I chose to have Jasmin tea which was deliciously light and fragrant.
The stars of the Royal Afternoon Tea were the cakes. Where the sandwiches failed to impress, the cakes more than made up for. Four impressive looking cakes inspired by flavours from Canada, India, Nigeria and St Lucia.
The sweet Course
Maple Syrup Dome, Cocoa Butter Macaroon, Canada
White Chocolate Coated Layered Banana Cake, St Lucia
Praline Choux Bun with Caramelised peanuts, Nigeria
Mango Mousse with Orange Caramel filling on a Sable Breton, India
The cakes were stunning both visually and in taste, I couldn’t really pick a favourite as I enjoyed each and everyone of them. If I had to choose, I would lean towards the Maple Syrup Dome from Canada, it was light and almost toffee-like in flavour because of the maple and chewy from the macaroon. You’ll notice there isn’t a chocolate cake in sight and to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t miss chocolate on the menu. I’ve never finished all my cakes in an Afternoon Tea because I’m always so full, but I can promise you, you’ll manage to eat all of them on the Royal Afternoon Tea menu.
Overall, I really enjoyed my Tea at the Wellington Lounge. What the sandwiches lacked everything else made up for. From the Wagyu beef pie to the scones and cakes and most of all, the service at the Wellington Lounge. Being serenaded with relaxing live piano while enjoying tea, champagne and all manner of savouries and sweets is the best way to while away a couple of hours. I’d definitely like to try their standard Afternoon Tea next time and do you know what, I may even be cheeky and ask for a bespoke version, one with lots of those moorish savouries on the High Coffee menu as well as just a couple of sarnies and more of those delicious cakes, wouldn’t that be cool?
The Royal Afternoon Tea is priced at £36 including a glass of Perrier Jouët champagne.
1 Hamilton Place
020 7409 3131