“Millions of spiders have been milked & woven into a gold silk cape, we have 2C this!” said the tweet from @LadyCofBespoke; “The one at the V&A?” I tweeted back, “Yes” she replied. Thus I was tempted to town to look at a spider silk cape –but also the perfect excuse not only to see my much missed bessie Charlotte, but a great excuse to poke around one of my all-time-favourite-places –on-earth – London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The spider silk cape was indeed impressive – new ways involving rare textiles and luxury always get my attention! Apres spiders Charlotte insisted we looked at the jewellery – a dark ‘vault’ glowing with diamonds! I naturally returned the ‘favour’ by dragging her around the ceramics! After a couple of hours – always enough time at any museum – we were cold, drained by culture and desperately in need of sustenance. As ever, Charlotte, the ultimate girl-about-town came to the rescue and suggested we popped around the corner to The Kensington Hotel, where; “I know they do a very good afternoon tea” she said and she was right!
The Kensington is on the corner of Old Brompton Rd and Queens Gate, a perfectly central location for those with ‘Museum Fatigue.’ They offer ‘Modern Afternoon Tea’ from 3pm. Obviously, we plumped for the ‘Champagne’ version at £32, a modest £7 more and so worth it.
The first thing I noticed was that the staff here are excellent. Showing us through to the boudoir like drawing room and offering us a great seat in one of the bay windows – tea and people watching -perfect!
We were looked after by the charming and ever so discrete Alessandro – who brought champagne immediately and the thoughtfully asked us when we would like our tea to arrive. We opted to have it after the sandwiches and with the scones, choosing a pot of delicious Ceylonese Orange Pekoe from Charlotte’s beloved Sri Lanka.
Very soon a plate of delicious looking, and tasting, finger sandwiches arrived along with gravadlax crostini and tiny chicken wraps. The gravadlax was clearly home made – it had that soft melt-in-the-mouth texture, whilst the lemon and dill mayonnaise, just added to the subtlety of the flavours. Before our glasses were empty, there were topped up as we awaited the stilll baking scones!
After a discrete pause for digestion, laid before our eyes was placed a little ‘nest’ formed out of a linen napkin bursting with four, plump, still warm scones, accompanied by clotted cream and home made strawberry and rose petal jam. Our Celyonese tea arrived and was poured for us. All we had to do was relax and eat!
Tea is something Charlotte and I love, however she is rather particular when it comes to milk. “Literally just a drip,” she insisted. A drip ‘a la Charlotte’ is a hard call – but Alessandro managed it beautifully! The lady was delighted!
Scones devoured we were ready for our last course and again, the ever attentive staff, suggest we try another of the fourteen teas on offer. This was a really thoughtful suggestion and we went for my personal fave Darjeeling. After another cup of tea a tower of luscious cakes arrived. Warm brownies, little mousses, opera gateaus and my own personal passion – macarons! I have to say they passed the “bought them in Paris” test well!
The great thing about Afternoon Tea at The Kensignton was that there was no rush. The staff, clearly aware of us, remained discrete, but attentive. This hands off, leisurely approach and its great location, makes afternoon tea here a civilised way to recharge after museums or shopping trips and also makes it a great date location too! Charlotte and I will most certainly be back very soon.
The Kensington Hotel
109-113 Queen’s Gate
London, SW7 5LR