If there’s one gastronomic arena in which England holds its own, it’s high tea. The traditional afternoon repast of delicate cakes, crumbly scones and hot tea has become an institution around the world, but if you want the authentic experience, head to London where the Hotel Café Royal London has just won the top gong for Traditional Afternoon Tea in the 2017 Afternoon Tea Awards (yes, there’s such a thing).
At the Hotel Café Royal, delicate morsels are served in the gilded Louis XVI-style splendour of the hotel’s Oscar Wilde Bar. The room itself dates back to 1865 and bears the name of one of its most famous regular patrons. Of course, a charming dining room alone doesn’t win the award for best Traditional Afternoon Tea. Expect a beautifully presented spread of time-honoured favourites. Sandwiches include English cucumber with rose pepper cream cheese; Coronation chicken; and smoked salmon with a dill crème fraîche. Scones are served with lashings of clotted cream and there’s a selection of expertly crafted pastries and cakes such as Tahitian vanilla tarts and coconut and mango dacquoise prepared by an award-winning team.
On the tea front, choose from 25 blends and infusions, many of which are exclusive to the hotel – vanilla- and cocoa-tinged Celestine is a favourite. And of course, there’s also a Champagne option – pick between the Laurent-Perrier Brut or Rosé.
From September through to 15 November 2017, the traditional high tea is getting a fragrant twist. A collaboration with French perfumer Diptyque sees classic English afternoon tea treats reimagined in four floral flavours based on Diptyque scents: Roses, Vanille, Violette and Verveine – think delicately scented goodies such as rose Victoria sponge and violet and cassis tarts.
Oscar Wilde Bar at Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London, United Kingdom; +442074063333