home house afternoon tea london
The never-ending stream of ‘National’ days and weeks that PRs seem to throw around the Twittersphere has me wildly disconnected. A little petulant, truth be told. I refuse to eat burgers on National Burger Day. I refuse to relax on National Relaxation Day. I may even go as far as supergluing my mouth shut on National Smile Day.

The exception was always going to be National Afternoon Tea Week. The one I’m currently clotted cream-ing our way through. I take afternoon tea unnecessarily seriously.

With a friend was in town and on the hunt for her first taste of British teatime, I had to go heritage. Home House‘s English Country Garden Afternoon Tea heritage.

The jaw-droppingly beautiful member’s club and hotel shook their afternoon tea menu up to incorporate country garden themes right on time. We booked in, skipped up Robert Adam’s opulent staircase, and settled in to their neo-classical Drawing Room with a glass of Moët & Chandon for the quintessential afternoon tea.

Simply heightening the traditional, we started with a sandwich selection of roast beef & horseradish on onion bread, smoked salmon & cream cheese on granary, cucumber & cream cheese on white, and cressed-up wholegrain egg mayo on white.

The fresh scones – with plenty of clotted cream and jam – were next, riding on a Darjeeling sea that led to spectacular dessert plates. While I rarely take more than a bite of teatime’s sweet treats, the mini Pimms trifle, Eton Mess meringue sphere, cherry & chocolate dacquoise, honey & thyme mousse sable, violet & blackberry open macaron, and raspberry & rose tartlet vanished within minutes.

If you’re looking for a traditional tea that won’t disappoint, I couldn’t think of a better spot to settle in for the afternoon.

home house afternoon tea london
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k west afternoon tea
For those of you who love afternoon tea with a theme, the Spring Rocks afternoon tea at K West Hotel & Spa is well overdue a visit. Launched over Easer, the tea gained fast infamousity by turning our nation’s beloved Creme Egg into a Creme Egg Burger.

Stocks willing, this is still one place you can get your Creme Egg fix while the shops run dry.

Settling into Studio Kitchen (K West’s informal but gorgeous eatery), my hungry guest and I swooned over the table settings (major points for Blondie and Beatles vinyl covers as placemats) before ordering cocktails.

It’s a rock ‘n’ roll themed tea, guys. Totally necessary.

Shortly thereafter, the ultraviolet tiers of treats arrived: perfect little hot dogs, savoury sliders, mini Hot Cross Buns, quail egg Scotch Eggs, strawberry tarts, scones, pure almond macarons, salmon and cream cheese fingers…even sprinkle-topped chocolate pops.

Not forgetting the Creme Egg Burgers, of course. Each burger was made from a sweet brioche bun dipped in white chocolate and gooey Creme Egg filling with mascarpone and strawberry jelly. Sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, to boot. I feel mostly impartial towards Creme Eggs (I know! I know! I swear I’m British!) but adored the eclair-esque results of the chefs’ innovative imagination.

k west afternoon tea
k west afternoon tea
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moving to london
I am a Londoner: born and – at least partially – bred. I have lived in America, Asia, and other regions of the UK, but always end up hightailing it back to the capital.

In fact, at the end of my Thailand adventures (and the week itself) I move back to London for a gajillionth time.

Moving to London 101

Get a job. I know, I know – it’s much more tempting to show up at some imaginary magazine office and get hired as a fashion assistant based on your great taste in heels, but London is as competitive a market as you can imagine. Whatever industry you work/hope to work in, jump on it like Channing Tatum. Employ the help of recruitment agencies if you’re of the delegation mould or search niche job sites if you’re more of a DIY job hunter. (There is quite literally a niche for everyone; budding lawyers, Fashion Week hopefuls, and beyond.)

Get to know the areas. A fair share of first-timers end up making the wrong decision when it comes to location-picking and I just can’t have that happen to you, babe.

First, you follow one of two choices:
– House sharing (follow your adventure to Spare Room!)
– Renting (follow your adventure to Rightmove!)

When you’re decided, you try every tube or bus stop under a 45-minute commute to your workplace (TFL is your BFF here) until you find something in your price range. Then find out as much as you can about the area (hell, ask me!) to make sure it will suit your lifestyle. The basic rule of thumb suggests you’ll be living in a flat from travel Zones 1-3, but a house from 4 onwards (I chose the latter – around a tonne of amenities – and bagged myself a wonderful home with a garden).

If you’ve got some cash to splash, of course, there is no other choice but to move to Soho (and invite me over). That is where the party’s at.

Get out there! To paraphrase someone saying something at sometime, “when you’re bored of London you’re bored of life”. You will be the happiest little city-dweller imaginable if you make the time to pursue friends, memories, and adventure. Time Out is the ultimate ‘What’s Happening in London’ resource (but I dare say my food blogs are a stellar contribution).

Live. I’ve met a surprising number of people who say they ‘can’t do’ London and, well, all I can do is appreciate our differences. London – like any metropolis – can be a hectic beast to new eyes but once you get around the Oyster cards, rush hours, night busses and North/South rivalries, there is no place like home.

lancaster london afternoon tea
If you’ve been clicking around my blog for any longer than a week (thank you, superbabe!), you’ll know I love to pepper my work days with as much adventure as possible. Though I tend to work from dawn to dusk, I know I need to step away from the grind when schedules and clients allow.

When you’re in London, there’s no better escape than afternoon tea.

When a slot in Wednesday’s schedule opened up, I made a date with the Lancaster London‘s Ben Purton and his signature afternoon tea.

In August, Purton took over the hotel’s two restaurants (Island Grill and Nipa Thai), banqueting for up to 3,000 guests, room service, the Lounge Bar, and the Lounge Bar’s Afternoon Tea as Executive Chef.

All that and the man still manages to knock the scones – and then some – out of the park.

Kicking things off with a glass of Laurent Perrier, I decided to go for a pot of organic darjeeling (champagne of teas to follow the champagne of champagnes, naturally) while my tea buddy chose his favourite – a classic pot of English breakfast tea (a full-bodied version blended with three different Assam leaves).

While the tea timer did our dirty work, we began to plate up our savouries; a Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwich, an egg & wild cress sandwich, a cucumber sandwich, a wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlet, and a roast beef-filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream (the cake-taker, by far).

With excellent timing, our waitress then approached us to ask if we would like any more sandwiches (not with scones coming!) and if we were ready for our scones (YES, ALWAYS YES!). The warm plain and raisin carb clouds were then served to us with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, making all our dreams come true.

Making a push for the sweets tier, I took small bites of everything to ensure no sugared stone went unturned. From favourite to could-still-be-a-favourite, the final plate featured white chocolate and raspberry lollipops, apple and honey cupcakes, lemon fruit tarts, caramel and hazelnut tranches, and passion fruit and raspberry macarons.

When a macaron comes ‘last’, you know you’re dealing with a pro.

lancaster london afternoon tea
lancaster london afternoon tea
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hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 3
I have frequented Hotel Cafe Royal a number of times over the past two years and each visit – inclusive of afternoon teas, dinners, champagne and caviar excursions, et all – has been a pleasure.

Nothing, however, prepared me for this afternoon tea. Swapping the Ten Room for the gold-dipped Oscar Wilde Bar, Chef Andrew Turner’s newly-launched London High Society afternoon tea menu ticked every opulent box you could imagine.

I would endeavour to put the Oscar Wilde into words, but you simply have to experience it for yourself. ‘Royal’ is an understatement.

Settled in among a hidden congregation of fellow afternoon gluttons, The Manfriend and I cheersed our glasses of Veuve Clicquot and perused the tea menu before the amuse bouche was served. The ‘Low Sidecar Muffin’ was a fluffy and savoury delight accented by truffled cream cheese and a miniature pipette of jus.

Shortly thereafter, my pot of Queensbury (a refreshing, herbal infusion of lemongrass, fennel seed
and liquorice root) arrived alongside three tiers of savouries. For each person, there was a wild boar, crackling, pickled apple and mustard bun, a goat’s cheese puff with wine jelly, a Mary Rose prawn cocktail canape, a London Cure smoked salmon and quail’s egg pastry, and an artfully presented “Cucumber and cream cheese” sandwich…

…all preceeding a palate cleanser of chocolate marshmallows and a shot of fruit tea, of course.

Pausing to take a mid-tea teabreak (oh yes, there’s more) while the pianist tinkled the ivories to a few familiar melodies, we finished our pots and welcomed the sweets and scones with open plates.

Though neither of us has a particular sweet tooth, we are veritable SconeHeads so chatted, jammed, and clotted-creamed our way through the small basket of fresh scones between bites of the other fruit-filled treats.

High points: Absinthe green fairy macarons, edible flower pots, and individual tubes of lemon curd.

High society may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cafe Royal’s edible version is instinctively praise-worthy.

hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 1
hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 8
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