Our Great British Afternoon Tea is revered all around the world. People flock to our beautiful hotels to enjoy this quintessentially British Ritual and there’s nowhere better to enjoy Afternoon Tea than at one of Mayfair’s most respected and oldest hotels.
Brown’s Hotel first opened its doors in 1837 owned by James and Sarah Brown. Over the years it has hosted many distinguished guests, did you know it is from here that Rudyard Kipling penned many of his novels. The eleven Georgian townhouses that make up the hotel means that each room is uniquely different from the other. In 1839, the hotel merged with the neighbouring St George’s Hotel, signified by the mosaic plaque on the outside of the hotel. The hotel personifies the class and sophistication of modern British luxury and is now owned by the famous Italian hoteliers Rocco Forte who have continued this philosophy; it is very much a family owned hotel since 2003.
The tradition of Afternoon Tea first came about in the early Victorian times. Lifelong friend of Queen Victoria Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford would often become hungry around 4:00pm and it was a long time to wait until dinner usually around 8:00pm. She was served finger sandwiches and dainty cakes to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner thus the tradition of Afternoon Tea was borne. Afternoon Tea became a fashionable social event in the 1880’s when upper-class society women would gather dressed in their finest gowns to enjoy this new ritual and exchange stories and gossip. It’s an endearing story and I couldn’t think of anywhere more appropriate to enjoy Afternoon Tea than in one of London’s finest hotels.
This was my second visit to Brown’s Hotel accompanied by my mum who is a huge fan of Afternoon Tea. Tea at Brown’s Hotel is taken in the Brown’s English Tea Room. The English Tea Room is cosy, intimate and timeless, think very Old English country house with elegant touches and a majestic grand piano which serenades its diners on a daily basis. The surroundings are a perfect blend of old and new with original oak wood panelling, antique fireplace and a romantic corner space simply called The Library Corner filled floor to ceiling with books.
There are two Afternoon Tea’s to choose from, Traditional and Tea-Tox which is the hotel’s gluten-free and vegetarian option, it’s refreshing to see Afternoon tea being brought right up to date to suit the modern palate and diet.
We were seated at the corner table beautifully dressed with traditional floral china and sumptuous super comfortable sofa’s and offered a small glass of cold tea. It’s essentially to cleanse the palate in readiness for the delicious treats to come, a mix of strawberry Rooibos tea with apple juice and mint. Our hostess described the process of Afternoon Tea at Browns which comes a selection of 25 teas to choose from and the option of having a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne which we duly accepted.
Sticking with tradition, we chose Brown’s Breakfast Blend, a rich Assam tea from India and we followed this with a lighter tea, Jasmine Pearls from the Fujian Province in China with our sweet course. We were advised to change our tea throughout our Afternoon Tea experience, after all there are 25 to teas to choose from as our hostess pointed out. There is also a selection of coffee to to end your Afternoon Tea experience if you like.
The sandwiches looked amazing on a beautiful floral china tiered stand. The top and bottom tier had a choice of three sandwiches and sitting on the middle tier, some really appetising open sandwiches on artisan bread.
Smoked Salmon with Lemon Butter on Onion Bread
Burford Egg Mayonnaise with Mustard Watercress on Malt Bread
Sliced Cucumber & Cream Cheese on White Bread
Prawn Cocktail with Paprika on Potato Bun
Coronation Chicken, Yoghurt, Onion Seeds, Dried Apricots on Potato Bun
Sliced Parma Ham & Cream Cheese with Fresh Herbs on Mini Bagel
The finger sandwiches were delightful. Super soft bread expertly cut with a very generous amount of filling. I’m a sucker or tradition and I loved that the fillings of the finger sandwiches were favourites that we all love and look forward to on an Afternoon Tea menu. But what set this Afternoon Tea apart from recent ones I’ve enjoyed were the delicious open sandwiches. These were outstanding both my mum and I agreed. We were offered more sandwiches and we gratefully accepted more of the prawn and the Coronation chicken. The flavours married really well together with added textures and flavours thanks to the addition of apricots and onion seeds on the Coronation chicken and the herbs and flavoured butter in the other sandwiches.
Careful not to get too full, we had time between the sandwich and scone course enjoying our delicious champagne taking in the ambience of the English Tea Room as the piano started playing, it makes for a very serene and romantic atmosphere.
The scones arrived on another stand sitting in the middle with the cream and jam below and taking centre stage on the top tier, the beautiful cakes. The scones were deliciously warm, a classic combination of plain and raisin scones with rich creamy Cornish clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. For both my mum and I, the dessert course is always our favourite and the one we always look forward to the most.
Lemon, Thyme & Yuzu White Chocolate Cream
Yoghurt, Raspberry & Peach Slice
Strawberry, Lime & Mint Petit Gateau
Pecan & Milk Chocolate Choux
The English Tea Room offer a selection of cakes from their cake trolley which changes daily, today’s choice was a fudgy chocolate slice and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. We knew we’d be taking these away with us as did most of the other diners.
My mum isn’t a lover of chocolate cake so she had the strawberry gateau and the raspberry and peach slice, my mum happily let me try her cakes which were fruity and full of flavour complemented by the light floral Jasmine tea we had ordered as our second tea. My yuzu and white chocolate cake was zingy and light and the chocolate choux was a chocolate lover’s dream and could sit quite proudly on display in any Parisian patisserie. We were presented with the additional trolley cakes, but these were packed away in a really cute box to take away with us. We shared these with my dad when we got home, he agreed that they were just perfect with a cup of tea.
Our Afternoon Tea was coming to an end, it was a delightful experience. Brown’s Hotel offer the perfect Afternoon Tea and I can’t think of a better way to while away a couple of hours than in one of London’s most beautiful hotels in the heart of Mayfair.
Traditional Afternoon Tea costs £55 per person
With a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne, £65 pp
With a glass of Ruinart Rose £68 pp
Additional glass of champagne, £21
Tea-Tox is priced the same.
I was invited to review Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel; all photos and opinions are my own.
For more delicious Afternoon Tea’s, please visit www.afternoontea.co.uk
London W1S 4BP
020 7493 6020