Afternoon tea at JW Marriott Grosvenor House London

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.

Afternoon tea

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:

An interview with Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene; one of the greatest batsmen in cricket of all time. The highest scoring right-hand batsman in Test cricket in the history of cricket (374 runs against South Africa). Named the Best International Captain of the Year in 2006 by the International Cricket Council and nominated the Best Test Cricket Player of the Year in 2007. He also happens to be the most capped player in One Day Internationals for his country; Sri Lanka. These are but as few accolades as I could fit in to a single paragraph. Given how much the Sri Lankan nation loves cricket it would be fair to say that Mahela Jayawardene is a sporting hero both in Sri Lanka and around the world. Whilst he has retired from playing cricket professionally Mahela is currently the Head Coach of Mumbai Indians cricket team in the Indian Premier League.

Recently Sri Lanka has needed its heroes more than ever. A devastating terrorist attack on Easter Sunday shattered the peace of a nation knelt in prayer. In excess of 250 people died and left hundreds more wounded. In the immediate aftermath 39 countries issued travel warnings adding to the woes of an economy dependent on tourism.

However, less than three months later Sri Lanka is on its way to recovery. With clarity comes the task of caring for those affected and left at the mercy and goodwill of strangers. Several events, organised around the world, have helped raise funds. One such was hosted by Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London. Sri Lankan seafood restaurant Ministry of Crab collaborated with the hotel for a pop-up and proceeds were donated to the cause. The event was attended by Mahela Jayawardene who co-owns Ministry of Crab restaurant. I caught up with Mahela where he expressed his thoughts on the issues that face Sri Lanka as the country moves forward.

GTW: Mahela Jayawardene welcome back to London.

Mahela Jayawardene: Thank you.

GTW: I appreciate you making the space in your schedule for this interview. Do you get to spend much time in Sri Lanka now with your coaching and other commitments?

Mahela Jayawardene: I do make time to do so. I manage my coaching schedule and break it down to quarters so it’s spread out equally and I spend time in between in Sri Lanka. Obviously travelling for events and my businesses does take me away but they’re always short trips so it’s not too bad. This year with the Cricket World Cup it’s been busier than usual after the IPL. But by next year things will settle down. Sri Lanka is always home and I will never keep away for too long.

GTW: The world was shell-shocked when news of the Easter Sunday attack on Sri Lanka broke. Where were you when you heard the news? How did you feel when you saw those images on your screen?

Mahela Jayawardene: I was in India. It was IPL season. I woke up to the news. My family is in Colombo so I called and made sure everyone was safe. I also knew a lot of the staff in the hotels. We’re regulars for Sunday brunch at those restaurants. We were calling around to find out about the staff there. We personally knew some of the staff that died.

I felt sad when I saw the images. Especially when I looked at the pictures a friend sent me of the church in Negombo. When I saw the children that were hurt it made me really sad. But at the same time, a few days later, when it came to light that the whole situation had been mishandled, I was quite angry. I put this out on my social media. It needed to be said. The only way we can ensure that something like this never happens again is if we are prepared to tell the truth.

We took our eye off the ball with our security and didn’t execute any plan with whatever little intelligence we had. I’m not saying that we could have prevented the whole thing but we could have prevented it being on such a big scale. We could have managed it better. We could have done something. We may not have been able to stop it but we could have done something. That was the root of my anger.

We also have to sympathise with all the tourists that were killed and affected in so many ways. We met the Archbishop of Colombo too to find out what needed to be done. Kumar Sangakkara and I met with with him because we now have to think about the long term effects of this and raising money for the things that need to be done.

Some of the children will need long-term care and we are not necessarily equipped to deliver that in Sri Lanka in the way that it’s required. So we may have to fly these children overseas to get them the care they need. That includes their education. We will need to look at what’s best for them and offer them the best possible chance to become a part of society again. We have to make sure they’re not left behind. There’s a lot to be done and it’s going to be a slow, long process. We need to make sure we don’t forget what happened.

GTW: Immediately after the attack there was some fear that ethnic tensions might rise up again. With the exception of a few isolated incidents it seemed that everyone was eager to get back to some form of normality. Did you feel that this time round Sri Lanka was reacting differently to this act of violence?

Mahela Jayawardene: Yes, most certainly. We’ve had almost a decade of peace and we were finally able to enjoy our country for the first time without fear. When we were growing up, during the civil war, our parents were terrified to send us to school because they weren’t sure we’d come back. No one wants that again. That’s where everyone united and looked beyond personal agendas and political affiliations to put our country first and make sure we did the right thing. I think that’s why so many people made sure that their voices were heard on this matter.

I know that social media can be used negatively but in this instance it was a good platform for people to express what they thought. I know that some used it in the wrong way but we always have to expect that. We can’t prevent that. But mostly people were positive and standing up for the right thing.

GTW: So, tonight is a pretty special evening and an amazing collaboration between Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London and Ministry of Crab. The aim is to raise money for the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks. The fact that you’re here suggests that it’s important to you to give the event visibility. Is that the case?

Mahela Jayawardene: Most certainly. Shangri-La, London has always been supportive of Ministry of Crab. This is our third pop-up with the hotel. They’ve been a brilliant partner. We have a restaurant in Shangri-La, Manila too and I think when the attack happened Shangri-La also wanted to do something to help. So it worked out well. This evening is about having a visible Sri Lankan brand support this cause and not about promoting myself. We’re trying to showcase what Sri Lanka has to offer and encourage tourists to come back. Sri Lanka is still Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel for 2019.

GTW: Looking ahead, how assured are you of Sri Lanka’s recovery as a destination?

Mahela Jayawardene: Well, at the moment it’s too soon to say. I think as a country we are standing up quickly. It does also depend on the political trust other countries have in Sri Lanka. We’ve spoken with several Ambassadors and they are confident of the security measures we’ve taken which is the reason the travel ban came down pretty quickly.

Given the renewed trust that has been placed on us, by the rest of the world, Sri Lanka now needs to walk the talk. We need to show stability, that we’re taking action and that we would not let something like this happen again. It’s had a ripple effect on the entire nation. It didn’t just affect hotel bookings and airlines. It effected the entire tourist industry’s structure from small scale entrepreneurs to foreign investors.

Personally I’m hoping that we will recover by next year. However, our high season starts between November and December. As long as we’re all taking positive steps in the same direction it should happen.

GTW: Finally, as one of the highest profile Sri Lankans in the world what is your message to the world?

Mahela Jayawardene: Sri Lanka is a vibrant country. It’s a simple place but it’s beautiful. You can have wildlife, beaches, culture, tea and religious culture all in one place. The message is please come and enjoy that. People who’ve visited once always come back. That’s a very positive thing and it says everything.

Mahela Jayawardene at the Ministry of Crab pop-up at Shangri-La At The Shard, London

This interview was conducted at the Ministry of Crab pop-up hosted at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London on 5th July 2019. All proceeds from the evening will be used to help victims of the Easter Sunday attacks. In addition, a further £2000 was raised through the auction of a bat and ball signed by Mahela and a five nights’ stay at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo and Shangri-La Hotel, Hambantota, Sri Lanka.

Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard hosts pop-up for Sri Lanka

Easter Sunday had a different meaning for Sri Lanka this year. In one of the worst attacks the world has seen an act of terrorism devastated the country, on 21st April, killing 258 people and injuring over 500. Two months on and the nation is slowly recovering from the tragedy. To help Sri Lanka on its journey Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London will host a charity pop-up in collaboration with Sri Lankan seafood restaurant Ministry of Crab. Proceeds from the evening will be donated to those affected.

Kumar Sangakkara, Darshan Munidasa and Mahela Jayawardena at Ministry of Crab.

The event will be held in Shangri-La At The Shard’s Sky Lounge on level 34. Be sure to add 5th and 6th of July in your diaries. The pop-up will also celebrate the island’s other true love; cricket. The ICC Cricket World Cup will be screened while we dine. On a side note I’d like to add that this is exactly how I grew up in Sri Lanka. Cricket everywhere. Even during dinner.

The menu (£85 per person) includes two appetisers of light avocado and crab salad and Sri Lankan baked crab. The main course will be Ministry of Crab’s Dharshan Munidasa’s signature Garlic Chilli Crab. It’s a fusion of flavours marrying Sri Lankan and Japanese food philosophies which pay homage to Dharshan’s dual heritage. A second dish of Pepper Crab seasoned with hand-crushed black pepper, red pepper corns and pepper stock will follow. Dessert is expected be pandan leaf rice pudding served with a light mango sorbet. Tiger and Tsingtao beer as well as a selection of signature cocktails, created by the hotel’s bar team, will be available as extras.

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to dine at Shangri-La At The Shard’s Sky Lounge you’ll know that you’re in for a treat. Views across London from here are mesmerising. It’s common for first-timers to stare out of the windows as others attempt to make polite conversation. Add to this Shangri-La’s impeccable service, the great cause and responsibly-sourced Sri Lankan food and the evening will unfold like a dream.

There will be six sittings in total for the pop-up on Friday 5th July and Saturday 6th July. On 5th July the first will be at 6pm and the second at 8pm. On 6th July there will be two lunch sittings at 12pm and 2pm. Dinner will be at 6pm and 8pm respectively. You can reserve a table for any of these options by emailing or by calling 0207 234 8067.

For an ever more luxurious experience you can book a package including two tickets to the ICC Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at Lord’s, two tickets to dinner the pop-up on the 5th July plus an overnight stay for two including breakfast and early check-in. For more information and reservations email or call 0207 234 8088.

Booking period for this event is between 4th June 2019 – 2nd July 2019 inclusive. Only stays on the night of 5th July 2019 correspond with the match date. Price start from £2,685 based on a one-night stay for two and two tickets. Terms and Conditions apply. For more information on terms and booking visit:

JW Marriott Grosvenor House celebrates 90

Glitterati, celebrities and 650 guests gathered in Park Lane on 30th April to celebrate something very special. On a warm summer evening the grande dame of Mayfair, JW Marriott Grosvenor House London, celebrated 90 years. Since its establishment, in 1929, JW Marriott Grosvenor House has been a place of intrigue in the capital. As a former residence of the Dukes of Westminster it’s where the longest reigning British monarch spent summer days as a child. The official dinner and after party for the BAFTAs have taken place here for 68 years. The Royal Caledonian and The Russian Debutante Balls are also both hosted here. So it’s no stranger to entertaining on a grand scale.

The celebration in April also marked the completion of a four year renovation of Grosvenor House. I stepped over the threshold of the Park Street entrance and stood astounded at the grandness of it all. The hotel’s forecourt had transformed into an ethereal summer dream that had been inspired by Hyde Park. A yellow rose frame complete with park bench and picnic basket was the backdrop. Well-heeled guests mingled freely as Champagne, of all shades of the setting sun, flowed freely. Between clinking of crystal flutes staff in starched white uniforms weaved in and out of the crowd. They carried silver platters of delights from the hotel’s four restaurants hand-picked by Executive Chef Paul Bates.

Inside, was an open house and guests glided from one room to the next. The splendid Park Room is now a palatial nod to the most famous park it overlooks; Hyde Park. The colours are muted, the carpet echoes fallen leaves in autumn and seasonal flowers dominate the eye line. It led to the lively and atmospheric JW Steakhouse which was rollicking good fun with doors wide open and live music. Prime USDA cuts and tasting options accompanied by drinks from its Bourbon Bar were served to a delighted crowd. Corrigan’s Mayfair’s oysters, Dickie’s Black Velvet cocktails and Ruya London’s Anatolian bites were sure fire crowd-pleasers. Sweet dessert plates of orange, basil and Dorset raspberry tart and lavender cake were sublime. Nyetimber Classic Cuvee and the hotel’s unique signature Yellow Rose Tea accompanied the refined menu.

String infusions all female musicians play at JW Marriott.

Elmhurst Ballet School entertained with a thrilling pop-up and String Infusion and Super Spokes played timeless classical music. The evening culminated with a performance by the London Community Gospel Choir which I missed but had brought the house down.

General Manager Stuart Bowery added, “Throughout the 90 years of its legacy, JW Marriott Grosvenor House London has played a role, whether large or small, in the history of this beloved city. This year, following significant transformations, our iconic hotel begins an exciting new chapter. We look forward to welcoming our guests as we head into the next decade feeling inspired and fulfilled.

We certainly wish JW Marriott another enduring 90 years on Park Lane.

For more information on JW Marriott Grosvenor House visit: