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Friday 19 December 2014

Christmas Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House

Words & Photography by Felicity Spector and Luiz Hara

I was dashing, literally, straight off a flight from California where the sun shone low over the Pacific and my lunch was heirloom, heritage and 100% organic. London, by contrast, was freezing and frenetically busy, but there was the promise of Christmas in the air. And afternoon tea, in Mayfair.

The Grovesnor House, right on Park Lane, was bedecked with festive decorations and a veritable forest of Christmas trees. A five star hotel, it was awarded the Guild of Tea award of excellence in 2013, a true mark of quality and consistent standards.

Thankfully out of the cold, there was a warm welcome inside: getting off to a grand start with a glass of Piper Heidsiek champagne and another containing a refreshing mix of mango juice and tiny cubes of tropical fruit.

There was a good selection of leaf teas, although many came with a £3 supplement: we were happy with our choices of Lady Grey, heady with citrus and bergamot, and a light, fragrant White peony.

Our excellent waitress ferried over a tiered stand of finger sandwiches and little cakes: a festive collection on offer over the Christmas period. The sandwiches were freshly made if a little conventional: prawn, egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, ham and cucumber - and one with home smoked turkey and a touch of cranberry sauce.

While we waited for scones, we tried some of the patisserie. The red velvet macaron was squidgy and well made, and we also enjoyed the gingerbread white chocolate mousse and a shot glass of whisky pannacotta with plum compote.

A basket of warm, light scones arrived with a choice of jams, which was a nice touch: we chose gooseberry, rhubarb and ginger and raspberry - and it all came with a vast bowl of clotted cream which can only be a good thing.

We were pretty full by this point, but there was a whole table of larger cakes to choose from too: the Red Velvet came highly recommended, and we couldn't resist trying a slice.

A good move, as it turned out: the cake was moist, light and not too sweet, with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting.

The Christmas afternoon tea is available for £39.50 per person, or £50.50 with champagne, reflecting the prices in this part of town. It's a comfortable room with wonderful service - if only the food was a little more adventurous, we'd have come away even happier.

Grovesnor House
86-90 Park Lane, London
0207 499 6363
Afternoon tea can be booked here

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