Poised and pretty, this fun new ’80 Days Around The World’ afternoon tea at The Kensington is ideal for an afternoon of classically creative enchantment, says editor Sophie Ritchie
Served in the South Kensington hotel’s beautiful drawing room, which has an eloquent feel without the sense of visiting someone’s stately living room, The Kensington’s latest afternoon tea is a feast for the senses.
Creative and thoughtful, the new ’80 Days Around The World’ experience has been designed to offer the quintessential British pastime with a twist – drawing inspiration from the worldly travels of Phileas Fogg – the protagonist in Jules Verne’s 1872 novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”.
Luckily for gout surgeons everywhere, there are not 80 types of cakes to devour – the three different tiers reflect the different stages of journey from Phileas’ journey, focusing on London, Paris, Rome and Cairo with bites inspired by each destination.
Me and my dining companion start with a tall glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV Champagne to settle in, as we sit centerstage on a cozy table by the fireplace. The bubbles fill up the flute like thousands of tiny golden jewels floating up the glass. We clink and sip, like the many guests around us – as from the looks of the multiple lit candles being brought around, this is a hotspot for birthdays.
The Food & Drink
The experience involves the afternoon tea essentials – a tiered tea stand featuring a selection of savouries, sandwiches, and of course, the sweets. Each layer is served on a gorgeously-designed plate that aims to tell Phileas’ story as well, with detailed hot air balloon illustrations and more. The traditional scones are nowhere to be seen at first, but this is merely an operational move to save table space – they’re brought out after a while, snugly nestled in a pristine white napkin.
We start with the savouries, although being a vegetarian I don’t eat the London-inspired creation – a teeny tiny beef and gravy pie with puff pastry top. I do however, thoroughly enjoy the Ta’ameya (falafel) with tahini aioli, which has a perfectly crispy bite. The spherical snack is gone in a mouthful, unless you have a generous dining companion who lets you devour their own portion.
A keen afternoon tea devourer, I’ve had my fair of posh sarnies in my time. The Kensington’s flavours are both varied and thoughtful – featuring the likes of Lemon & chive cream cheese with smoked salmon, Sundried tomatoes, green pesto and mozzarella and Cumin hummus with caramelised onions and Mustard mayo with ham and pickled gherkin for the carnivores.
The sweets, meanwhile are dainty-sized delights and steal the show. I immediately like the miniature portions, as they make the afternoon feel like a treat and not a gorging fest that would require one of the Romans’ vomitoria at the end. Each is presented skilfully, featuring delicate designs and intricate detail that make diving a spoon through each all the part of the fun – with a Banoffee Pie, Opera Mont Blanc, Tiramisu and Raspberry, Rose and Pistachio Twirl to try. The Banoffee Pie, creamy and silky, is especially good.
Even the sandwiches, thinly sliced and filled with slivers of different fillings, are slight and well-executed. If you have a few fussy dietary requirements, fear not. I don’t eat meat or fish, and find my plate filled with a range of vegetarian options instead.
At some afternoon teas, you can get away with eating with your hands. At The Kensington, I hold onto my knife and fork like they’re the steering wheel of my MINI on the M25. When someone offers to give you a coatroom tag just for your umbrella, you know you’re visiting somewhere special. That being said, despite the poised surroundings, the staff are welcoming and kind. From the chatty doormen to the smiling waiting staff, the friendly team excel at making you feel right at home in this classically luxurious hotel.
We sit, sip and sink our teeth into the tiered offering until the plates are almost empty. Like most afternoon teas, there’s a little left over at the end – a forgotten sandwich, an abandoned scone – but thoroughly stuffed, we decline the option of a doggy bag and take our food babies for a stroll instead.
The Wordrobe Verdict
Creative and thoughtful, this fun afternoon tea is ideal for an afternoon of classically British enchantment. Take your boyfriend, take your mum, take your best friend – regardless of your dining companion, there’s something to suit (and satisfy) everyone with this passport-inspired indulgence at The Kensington.
Make it happen
Where: 109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5LP
Wallet: Starting from £58 per person, add a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV for £18 per person.
How: Find out more and make a booking via doylecollection.com. See the full menu via doylecollection.com
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor