CORONATION AFTERNOON TEA AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL PARK LANE
What better way to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III than an afternoon tea inspired by his and Queen Camilla’s favourite flavours and dishes. Last month, I visited the Wellington Lounge at the InterContinental Hotel in Hyde Park to sample this very delicious Coronation Afternoon Tea.
Coronation Afternoon Tea
Did you know the hotel has royal connections? number 145 Park Lane is the former residence of Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, she often played in the garden with her childhood friend who would later become The Duke of Wellington. The Wellington Lounge is named after the first Duke of Wellington, the Wellesley family were first bestowed with the Wellington title in 1814 after the defeat of Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. Wellington’s statue can be seen from the Wellington Lounge.
The first Duke of Wellington Statue
It was lovely to be back at the InterContinental Hotel; I’ve enjoyed a couple of Afternoon Tea’s at The Wellington Lounge so I knew my plus one (my daughter) and I would be in for a lovely treat.
The Wellington Lounge have a beautiful selection of teas, over 20 to choose from but they’ve paired down three to match each course, all of which are the King’s favourites.
In the morning he starts with Darjeeling tea, often with a bit of cream and honey. To reflect this, the Wellington Lounge serve “Darjeeling Director’s Reserve Namring Estate”, a bright delicate second flush picked from The East India Company’s private Namring Estate. They recommended the Darjeeling for the savoury course and this time, I was keen to step out of my comfort zone and experience something other than English Breakfast plus, I was intrigued to try something different especially as they’re teas the King himself likes.
For the scones, again, I went with what our host Ciara recommended and it’s a favourite with the hotel as it’s their bespoke blend, “No.1 Park Lane”. It’s a flavoured black tea from Sri Lanka using Sri Lankan vanilla and Ceylon large leaf. Apparently, the King doesn’t really have a sweet tooth unlike his mother, the late Queen so in the afternoon, he likes Earl Grey with fruit and that’s what I chose to go with the dessert course, it’s my husband’s favourite tea too.
My daughter who hasn’t had conventional black tea in 18 months chose the “Dragon Eye” semi fermented Oolong Tea, light bodied and full of antioxidants. She followed this with the “Lung Ching Dragonwell” green tea, light and naturally sweet for the scones and finally, her favourite “Whole RoseBuds”, a beautifully scented rose which is the perfect choice for the dessert course.
Afternoon Tea is almost always served with a glass of champagne or a signature cocktail tailored to the afternoon tea. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of R de Ruinart Champagne.
There are so many other teas to go for, it’s completely your choice but our wonderful host Ciara who couldn’t do enough for us was spot on with every single recommendation.
What I like so much about the Wellington Lounge is that they think outside the box. So many hotels especially the higher end deluxe hotels usually always stick to the traditional Afternoon Tea sandwich and filling and while I do love this, I also like to try something different and that’s what the InterContinental do so well.
A few years ago in 2019, they had a coffee-based Afternoon Tea where different types of coffee was served instead of tea and open sandwiches and tarts took the place of the traditional sandwich which I found refreshingly different. The Wellington Lounge didn’t disappoint in their Coronation Afternoon Tea using ingredients which are close to the King’s heart whether that’s his beloved mushroom, sea bream and pheasant. He’s often seen harvesting for mushrooms, fishing and hunting on his Norfolk Estate and they’ve been used in the savoury course in such a ingenious way.
The coronation egg was served in charcoal bread which I’ve had before and the sea bream was served in a tomato bread, both complemented the ingredients perfectly. Charcoal though seemingly quite an unusual ingredient is quite popular now while the vivid yellow of turmeric made for an unusual looking but nonetheless very yummy duck/heritage beetroot sandwich.
My daughter Zoe and I loved all of them but our particular favourites were the exotic mushroom and whisky-cured sea bream. I think the watercress aioli and artichoke worked really well with the bold mushroom and equally, the delicate sea bream married really well with the salty caviar and the sourness of the crème fraiche. Both sandwiches were addictive and quite something.
The Wellington Lounge offer a second round of sandwiches at no extra cost as most hotels do, which we duly accepted because we weren’t full, that’s because the Wellington Lounge sandwich is the perfect size.
Scones and Devonshire clotted cream, there’s nothing quite like it! Are you cream or jam first? I’m definitely cream first and I love it’s thick gooey unctuousness. The Wellington Lounge serve two types of scone, plain or with sultanas and there is a choice of two preserves, Kentish rhubarb & Madagascan vanilla or signature strawberry jam. The scones were perfect, miles high and soft and pillowy, we had one each as we wanted to make sure we saved room for cake.
Coronation Cakes & Pastries
Gordon’s Dry Gin & Lime Delice
Red Plum Clafoutis Tart with Scottish Whisky Cream
Martini Cheesecake with a Lemon Twist
Darjeeling Tea with Honey Opera Cake
As the King isn’t a great sweet lover, he prefers fruit for dessert and one of his favourites is plums which is reflected in the Plum Clafoutis Tart. Both he and Queen Camilla have a penchant for a cocktail or two and like the late Queen Mother, gin is a particular favourite while Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed the gin-based spirit, Dubonnet. Martini is another favourite tipple and all these spirits and cocktails make an appearance in the cakes in a beautifully subtle way.
The beautiful Plum Clafoutis inspired by the King’s love of plums.
Opera cake is a classic French chocolate inspiration, and it appears on many an afternoon tea menu. I usually find the Opera quite rich but the dinky size of all the cakes meant that I finished them all and enjoyed each one equally whereas Zoe only managed to eat two of the four cakes. The hotel are very happy to store any uneaten cakes in a pretty box for you to take away with you.
The Gordon’s Gin & Lime Delice is a gorgeous eat in the form of the King’s Crown but my absolute favourite was the Martini Cheesecake & Lemon Twist; it’s super light, airy and zingy. The Plum Clafoutis is topped with pristine slices of glazed plum sitting on a crispy tart base and this was equally yummy.
Afternoon Tea is served with champagne if you like, I had a couple of glasses of the R de Ruinart Champagne while Zoe enjoyed a non-alcoholic Passionata Botanical cocktail.
Passionata Botanical cocktail.
We had a wonderful Afternoon Tea celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III in the beautifully serene setting of the Wellington Lounge. Although the Coronation Afternoon Tea is now finished, The Wellington Lounge are serving Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea in collaboration with the historic fragrance house, Yardley of London established in 1770, a wonderful flavourful journey full of inventive creations. I’ll be trying this one tomorrow on 22nd of June so watch this space!