We arrived at The Cadogan Hotel, in pursuit of that highly civilised notion that is afternoon tea. You may or may not have noticed that during this (alleged) summer, hotels have been theming their afternoon teas like crazy, in an attempt to add a little extra pizzazz. The Cadogan is no exception and has teamed up with the Kings Road Art Gallery to bring you ‘Afternoon ARTea’. See what they did there?!
As you walk into the hotel’s drawing room, you are privy to an exclusive collection of works from the Kings Road Art Gallery. There is also a price list that accompanies your afternoon tea, in case you fancy taking a painting home with you. Starting from around £3,500 the paintings are a little pricier than the Afternoon ARTea itself, which starts at a quite reasonable £22.50. We went the whole hog and opted for Champagne ARTea, priced at £28.50. Our brimming champagne flutes arrived full of Perrier Jouet as we relaxed back into our plush seats, and despite the bubbly being not quite chilled enough, we raised a toast to whiling away an afternoon in the confines of a salubrious five star hotel. Needless to say, we had glammed up a little for the occasion, and we were feeling suitably indulgent.
Our respective teas of Darjeeling and jasmine pearls arrived in silverware pots and accompanied a plate of finger-sized sandwiches, which were soft, crust-free and light on the tongue. By this point, we had got the art of relaxing down fairly well – there’s nothing like eating your way through an afternoon in a lazily indulgent fashion. The only real movements we made were raising refreshment to our lips and leaning forward to pile the odd scone high with jam, and clotted cream. Clotted cream that was so good, I had to test some straight from the pot, just in case the scone had been masking any imperfections. It had not – dairy heaven on a spoon. The scones, which arrived on a cake stand laden with patisserie, were beautifully light and crumbly, (without that hint of rock cake you dread when you make them at home).
Despite the cake stand heaving from the patisserie that decorated it, these sweet treats were remarkably light, making it possible to eat way too much, yet retain the ability to lean forward for rounds two, three and four. The strawberry tarts had a delicate, slightly savoury pastry to offset the sweetness of the fruit and vanilla cream, and went beautifully with our tea. Although afternoon tea is the perfect way for sugar addicts to get their fix, the patisserie wasn’t as rich as it looked, making things easier on your stomach, which is essential if you haven’t booked a room and need to get back to where you came from. As a final artistic flourish, two huge biscuits in the shape of an artist’s palette were set down in front of us, decorated with icing sugar to illustrate the splotches of paint. A lovely little touch, but not one we had room for by then, as we just about managed to lean forward for our last sip of tea.
Afternoon ARTea at The Cadogan is a thoroughly indulgent affair, but it would work just as well without the theming. The hotel is steeped in history - it’s where actress Lilly Langtry lived and is still famed for the moment when Oscar Wilde was arrested for gross indecency in room 118 back in 1895. Team that with its plush interior, charming staff and clotted cream to die for, and afternoon tea at this place becomes anything but plain and simple.
The Cadogan Hotel: 75 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9SG. Tel: 020 7245 0994.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar