In Review

The Dorchester’s festive afternoon tea review: the spirit of Christmas

Indulge in the very best of Yuletide at this opulent afternoon tea

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Heading into The Dorchester for the hotel’s new Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea, I tried to keep my expectations low. Before I came from the US to London, I had heard this was one of the best spots to enjoy afternoon tea in the UK, and its Highly Commended Certificate from the 2018 Afternoon Tea awards only added to the anticipation. Stepping into the hotel’s Promenade, however, I realise I’m in for an extraordinary experience that lives up to the billing.

The room in which the tea is served immediately encapsulates everything that makes Christmas in London so very lovely. Leafy palms and festive carousel horses sit around marble columns and plush couches. Every table feels like its own special island, and the waitress’s excellent service makes you feel like royalty. As soon as I sit down I am offered a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Champagne. Smooth and delicious, it’s the perfect starting point for the pastries and sandwiches I know are to come.

First on the food menu is a selection of crustless, delicate sandwiches. Special for the festive tea is a sandwich of Traditional Norfolk Bronze turkey with stuffing and mustard on cranberry bread, which my waitress highly recommends. Biting into it, she is right: it tastes like Christmas compacted down into finger food.

Staff are attentive, thoughtful and informative without being overbearing. As soon as we are ready for tea, our waitress explains which blends would go best with savoury versus sweet food, and which would make great palette cleansers. A settle on the blend “First Romance”, which offers a combination of fruits and flavour petals laced with strawberry, mango and orange.

After the sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam are presented. For Christmas, The Dorchester offers cranberry scones and a seasonal cinnamon fig jam. Wary at first of the cinnamon jam, my partner and I end up fighting over who gets the last of it on our delicious cranberry scones. 

Indulgently full from the scones and sandwiches, our waitress laughs that we’re just getting started. Presented on the multi-tier dessert tray are small, beautiful selections of festive-inspired pastries.

Recently, The Dorchester hired Sarah Barber as their new pastry chef for the afternoon tea. Born in London, she describes her style as modern patisserie flavours in a refined feminine style. The Dorchester was right to employ her; her pastries are spectacular.

Without spoiling all of the wonderful surprises that come in the menu, it’s worth mentioning the “Santa’s hat”, a marvelous fire-engine red chocolate cone full of gingerbread panna cotta and mulled wine jelly, outlined with a brim of coconut marshmallow. Another standout dessert was the “Christmas bauble”, a cinnamon spiced apple compote and vanilla custard placed on top of a streusel crumble.

The festive champagne tea only runs until 4 January, so be sure to book soon. Another festive tea at the Dorchester is the Christmas Carols afternoon tea available only on the weekends. The January afternoon tea, complete with a new menu, debuts 7 January.

The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1K 1QA. 

Book at dorchestercollection.com or +44 (0) 20 7629 8888.

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