Whether you’re visiting London or live here you must, at least once, experience afternoon tea at five-star JW Marriott Grosvenor House. The experience was Highly Commended at the Afternoon Tea Awards 2018 in recognition of its superior Afternoon Tea service.
JW Marriott Grosvenor House occupies an immensely historic space in London. The land on which it stands dates back to 1665. The first building served as a home and was used by the government during the First World War as part of the War effort. The hotel was built on the site in 1927 and upon completion was the first in London to have a bathroom in every room. It was also the first in Europe to have running iced water in every washroom. In the 1930s Queen Elizabeth II would have ice skating lessons in The Great Room. During the Second World War years it served as the largest US officers’ mess. The swinging 60s saw a host of events as diverse as The Beatles to boxing matches take place on the premises. Thereafter, passing through the hands of no less than six owners Marriott International acquired the hotel in 2004.
Step over the threshold of JW Marriott Grosvenor House and you cannot fail to feel the history of what it has always been. It’s around you; in the smile of the doorman, the greeting from the concierge, cloaking you along the walkways and most definitely in the atmosphere of the magnificent Park Room. As with most things regal it neither screams nor shouts. It simply is. That is possibly the reason, as I later found out, that year after year the same families return to JW Marriott Grosvenor House to spend their summers here. Even with 400 rooms, and as clichéd as it may sound, the hotel has a feeling of home.
The Park Room
The Park Room, where afternoon tea is served, is a vast, elegant space that looks out to Hyde Park. As I walked through the grand lobby nothing prepared me for it. Floor to ceiling windows, a soft muted carpet and a larger-than-life display of fresh flowers make for an enchanting greeting. Softest shades of grey chairs accent against leafy green velvet ones all in an immaculate placement. On close inspection the shapes and colours on the carpet resemble fallen leaves on an autumn day. One of my favourite things starched linen, angular clear glass displays and mirrors behind the bar blended together seamlessly. Daylight infuses every corner of the room falling over you as you enter; such magic and I’d not even had a sip of tea yet.
There are five afternoon tea options at JW Marriott Grosvenor House. A Classic Tea selection from Newby (£47.50 per person) and Rare & Exclusive Tea selection from Newby (£50.50) per person, There are also three Champagne tea options: Champagne Afternoon tea with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut (£57.50 per person), Champagne Afternoon tea with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé (£59.50 per person) or Afternoon Tea with a glass of Nyetimber Cuvee Chérie (£57.50 per person). As this was a celebration of British elegance I opted for Nytimber Cuvee Chérie.
It is also possible to order cocktails with your afternoon tea. The cocktail menu is inspired by the Park Room’s proximity to Hyde Park. Infusions of natural botanicals and tea themed cocktails paired with gin and Champagne can be enjoyed as extras.
JW Marriott Grosvenor House’s afternoon tea begins with a candy floss-topped shot of orange and yellow vitamins. It’s fun and playful and the most incredible ice-breaker. From here the experience unfolds in a more traditional way.
The savoury selection of sandwiches include cucumber with garden mint butter, smoked Oakham chicken with tarragon and crème fraîche, roast Aberdeen Angus beef with creamed horseradish, honey roast Yorkshire ham with Coleman’s English mustard and North Atlantic cold water prawn with classic Marie Rose sauce. Delicate open sandwiches include Foreman’s smoked Scottish salmon with cream cheese and Burford Brown Clarence Court egg with mayonnaise and chives.
Plain and raisin buttermilk scones are served with clotted cream and no less than six preserves: strawberry, rose petal, rhubarb and ginger, gooseberry, raspberry and blackcurrant. Rose petal preserve was the standout star for me. It was divine.
The assortment of cakes and pastries included milk chocolate and honeycomb mousse, Kaffir lime and ginger éclair, citrus, raspberry and basil tart, lavender cake and rhubarb apple and custard delice. I had previously had the good fortune of tasting Executive Pastry Chef, Dale DeSimone’s lavender cake at JW Marriott Grosvenor House’s 90th anniversary celebration. It had remained etched in my memory ever since and I was thoroughly looking forward to my second experience of it; as delightful as I’d remembered it.
7th Duchess of Bedford
Afternoon tea is a rather civilised affair all round. Yet the relaxed and composed setting of the Park Room, the impeccable service and the wonderful tea and food makes this experience outstanding. No wonder it’s named after Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, who succumbed to pangs of hunger in the late afternoon by ordering tea, bread and cakes in her bedroom. I too followed in the Duchess’ footsteps and was willingly seduced by magnificent tea, bread and lavender cake.
Afternoon tea is served between 12.30pm and 6pm everyday. There is also a children’s afternoon tea at the cost of £25 per child. Booking is essential. For more information visit: www.parkroom.co.uk