The magical recipe for a dream pause? A cozy afternoon tea, in a comfortable armchair, a steaming teapot, a chimney fire nearby, with a couple of friends or even on your own, a good book in one hand, a scone in the other… A ray of sunshine on the marble table or the sweet sound of raindrops on the window while you are safe inside. Can you picture it? Come, I know just where that is: in the colourful lounge of the Kensington Hotel. A real bubble of happiness. Sipping on a cup of Lapsang Osprey, its smoky aromas matching the wood burning in amber colours, I succumb to the delicious feeling of cocoon. Art and fashion books have been placed on the table for guests to leaf through. The menu also offers a nice selection of coffees as well as hot chocolate, whipped cream and marshmallows. There even is a white chocolate version if like me, you have a sweet tooth.
Finger sandwiches pile up in my plate in the most amusing way. Never before did I have a tower of them. Doesn’t this remind you of a jenga game? Each filling has a matched bread. White for the traditional egg, mayonnaise and cress. A gorgeous onion one for the roasted chicken with a touch of whole grain mustard. A very surprising caraway seed one brining quite a twist to the smooth cucumber and cream cheese. A sweet tomato one for the honey roast ham and amazing redcurrant butter. And finally, granary for the superb salmon enhanced with horseradish rosemary. I could do with a tower of this every day.
If you have been here before, you already know the The Aubrey Bar and their personalised cocktails. Well, the afternoon tea has quite a wow palate cleanser. This rose-shaped sorbet is in fact a lemony gin and tonic, sprinkled with crystallised mint leaves. It suddenly melts on your mouth, making your eyes open wide in delight. Cheers, my friends!
Next are the scones, often the turning point of the afternoon tea. Always irresistible, they also are very filling and your heart hesitates between the temptation of another bite and keeping some appetite for the so-looked-forward dessert. The Kensington Hotel has solved the problem, making them slightly smaller: no guilt! We loved the passionfruit lemon curd which really brings them to a new exotic dimension. I just wish they did sell it too… The sugary conclusion is presented on silver, edible jewels. Get your spoons, ready…? The blueberry cheesecake has this sumptuous dense texture that wraps the tastebuds delicately. This cute pyramid, wrapped in a chocolate curl, hides a heart of caramel and hazelnut. The lemon tart is quite something too, with a crème brûlée finish. The panna cotta is coconut flavoured with a passionfruit jelly topping. The so very British Bakewell tart is there too, a lovely moist version with tender almonds and very fragrant cherry coulis. Our favourite? The lavender shortbreads millefeuille with strawberries, a call for summer… and the chocolate mousse with its raspberry whirlpool, an ode to vibrant cacao with a powdery finish.
Do not plan anything else that afternoon – time does not matter here… Oh, and do not lunch beforehand!
The Kensington Hotel
109-113 Queen’s Gate
London SW7 5LP