London is perhaps the most apt place to experience a world class afternoon tea in, and The Guardsman, situated a stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace, is perhaps one of it’s best venues. A distinctly British and luxurious venue, tucked away discreetly behind the bustling streets of Victoria, this stunning high-end boutique hotel has a restaurant fit for royalty.
A cascading staircase from the quiet and serene lobby takes one down to the dining area, a cosily lit space with gold-framed paintings, classical artwork, velvet furnishings, marble tables, and fine china. It is quiet and intimate, giving the sense of an aristocratic living room rather than a restaurant. The china is dainty and fine, the cutlery polished, and the ambience luxurious. One would be forgiven for thinking this is an extension of the Palace itself.
Afternoon Tea, inspired by the Royal Parks, is a primary feature here. Taking its lead from local British produce, this afternoon tea offers a multi-faceted menu that caters to vegans and vegetarians, as well as those seeking a more classical experience. To start, there is the traditional array of sandwiches, beautifully presented and put together, accompanied with a glass of champagne. The tea selection is similarly delectable, featuring white and green teas, as well as the more well known black varieties. Then there are the scones, with clotted cream and jam, before finishing with the selection of sweet patisseries.
My guest and I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, tired and hungry, in need of a recharge after a long few weeks. We found the dining area pleasantly peaceful and calm, a respite from the hustle and bustle outside, and made ourselves comfortable at one of the centre tables. Our host brought us the two glasses of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV champagne (delicious) and explained the tea and sandwich, scone, patisserie offerings. For the teas, we faced a selection of Canton teas, a premium brand that is known for being organic, at times biodynamic, and sometimes from abandoned tea farms where the plants now grow wild. I had the Silver Needle white tea, a full-bodied and flavoursome jasmine style tea that our kind host recommended – and was not disappointed. My guest had a traditional Earl Gray, with similar delight. For the sandwiches, we started with the Truffled chicken mayonnaise made with tin loaf, a hearty start, before making out way to the Roast beef with cream of horseradish, watercress, and tomato leaf, a savoury treat. The Goldstein Scottish salmon with cream cheese, lemon butter and sourdough was a pleasant palate cleanser almost and lighter touch as we began to feel sometime satiated, but the real star of the show was the Burford brown egg mimosa with rocket, mayonnaise and turmeric loaf. An absolutely spectacular sandwich (something one doesn’t say too often) that was light, delicate, flavoursome, and extremely delicious. For this, we had seconds. The scones section of the meal was equally lovely, featuring two scones, a freshly fruit one and a plane one, served with Dorset clotted cream, and homemade Guardsman preserves (strawberry and raspberry). Crispy, fluffy, and buttery, these were a lovely transition to the sweet part of the afternoon tea.
The patisseries were a picturesque, delicious delight. Artistic in appearance, one resembled a dainty little toadstool mushroom, for example, they made a beautiful end to our experience. We started with the Raspberry Posy Raspberry with pistachio and chantilly cream tart, a tiny tartlet of fresh fruit flavours and juicy notes to cleanse the palate from the scones. The pastry was light and crunchy, the fruit flavoursome, and the cream delicate, making these mini tarts an initial favourite for us. The Toadstool delicate strawberry made with yoghurt mousse and lemon sponge, however, soon trumped the tartlet as our new favourite. The delicate yoghurt mousse worked beautifully with the zesty lemon sponge, whilst the icing was crunchy and fruity, create a wonderful combination of flavours and textures in the mouth feel. The Flower Pot Carrot cake with orange cream top became another firm favourite, with its spiciness and almost Autumnal feels, whilst the Black Rose Rich Chocolate ganache with black cherry compote created a rich end to the culinary adventure. By the end of the Patisserie section, we weren’t quite sure which was our favourite – they were all fantastic.
As afternoon teas go, then, The Guardsman offers a real treat of an experience. Priced at just £45 per person, including a glass of Champagne and offering Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-free options, this luxurious hotel is an impressive and high-value option for a truly British experience. Not only is the food exceptional, the service immaculate, but the warm and premium interior gives a relaxed sense of elevated luxury that is hard to find with many afternoon tea experiences. For those that are looking for an unforgettable afternoon tea in London, The Guardsman will not disappoint.
For more info on Afternoon Tea at The Guardsman see online.