A wise man once said “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Over a century later – the sentiment couldn’t hold truer in London, where themed twists to this traditional pastime present a pleasurable escapism from daily routine. While the experience is always a visual delight, the new afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal promises something more. Created in collaboration with one of my favourite French perfumers, Diptyque, the experience is elevated by several sensory shades..
As delectable as they are glossy, the pastries at the heart of the tea are a perfect canvas for the ethereal flavours and ingredients used in Diptyque’s signature scents.
Lemon Verbena features the fresh yet fragile notes of lemon verveine infused with lemon cream, sitting jauntily atop a sablé Breton base. A classic Victorian sponge is lifted by rose jam and a lychee and rose-tinged mousse (with silver leaf and crystallised rose adding a dainty touch). While my favourite is the Tahitian Vanilla bar, which sees the vanilla-speckled sponge decked with a crisp layer of hazelnut praline and a velvety white chocolate ganache!
There are impeccable sandwiches and golden-topped scones of course, interspersed with an avocado muffin for an amuse bouche (it’s as good as it sounds) and a liquid palate cleanser in the form of a hibiscus iced tea. The choice of tea spans an expansive selection of exclusive blends and infusions, and we enjoy a sparkling flute (or two) of Laurent Perrier as well!
The sumptuous feast fittingly manifests in the rather grand Oscar Wilde Bar – named after the eminent author who would often be found here, having fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas in the very same room.
In fact, back in the day Café Royal was a favourite among writers and artists (from Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells to Rudyard Kipling and George Bernard Shaw). Maintaining its position as a fashionable hub, the swinging sixties saw the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Muhammed Ali all waltz in through the doors too!
The legendary area has since been restored, its gloried past reflected in the larger-than-life Louis XVI style ceiling, complete with intricate gold leaf details and re-created paintings (based on the originals)! The walls are lined with mirrors and mahogany panelings, and a live pianist sets a lilting tone against the lavish surrounds.
One can’t help but think of this awe-inspiringly grand venue – situated in the heart of the West End – as one of London’s best kept secrets…
… Luckily for me, I’ve discovered it just in time. With autumn upon us and winter fast-approaching, this cosy corner of Regent Street seems just the spot to cram into for a restorative spot of tea or a tipple in the evenings!
More details on the Diptque afternoon tea available on Hotel Café Royal’s website.
Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street , London, W1B 4DY