Marylebone Hotel Afternoon Tea, London

no london experience is ever complete without some traditional afternoon tea, and the fact that i study and live here doesn’t stop me from doing “tourist-y” things like this once in a while 😉

having gotten a good afternoon tea deal at kingsway hall hotel via afternoontea.co.uk last year, it was that trusty website that i headed back to when a friend and i decided we were going to treat ourselves to an indulgent afternoon before the madness that school can become sets in.

this time, we got an amazing deal at the marylebone hotel – traditional afternoon tea at just £12.50 per person!!! considering how plush the hotel was, the impeccable service, and the quality of the food we were served, i would say this is the perfect deal if you’re looking for an affordable tea-time treat.

we arrived to a beautifully laid out table, and i loved the fact that we were seated on a huge cushy sofa in a lounge rather than stiff chairs around a table in a coffee house:
20131011_184803afternoon tea is served both in the lounge and the drawing room, and despite the very nice set-up, the staff are informal and unfussy, making you feel comfortable and right at home!

tea began with the waitress bringing us a selection of teas on a tray, explaining each one and letting us sniff them all before making our decision on what to get. they serve a selection of wonderfully fragrant “jing” tea there (which i found random packets of in my kitchen at home over summer and proceeded to make earl grey chiffon cake with – it tasted amazing and even better than when made with twinings tea!), and you’re allowed to have as much and as many kinds as you want throughout the afternoon. the selection of teas isn’t oustandingly extensive (i think we had 6 choices if i remember correctly), but is definitely enough to satisfy your tea desires, from black teas to fruit teas!

here’s the menu for afternoon tea:
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the sandwiches and scones were served first, and everything was plated really prettily (as it should be at afternoon tea!):
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these were the sandwiches we had:
20131011_160542though simple, they were a case of classic afternoon tea sandwiches being done really nicely. the proportion of ingredients to bread was just right, and fillings for the sandwiches were fresh and tasty while the bread was nice and soft. fortunately, they didn’t really fill me up as much as i had expected – they remained light despite all that butter, cream cheese and mayo in them – , because more good things were to come! 😉

next, on to the quintessential part of afternoon tea – freshly-baked scones with clotted cream and jam!20131011_160551i love scones. and when they are really good ones which are freshly toasted and warm, that’s just icing on the cake (what an apt expression to use :P)! the clotted cream was good stuff – thick, smooth and not too sweet, while the homemade jam was very nice too, with whole bits of strawberries! we had a raisin scone and a plain scone each, both of which were delicious – they had risen very nicely and the slight crunch on the outside (which i love) gave way to a perfect airy, soft and moist inside. such a plain-looking thing in comparison to the other fancy tea-time offerings, but so yummy.

and finally for the sweet end to the tea, we got to choose cakes and pastries from a wide range on display which was rather exciting:
20131011_165702they had macaroons, tarts, cakes and biscuits – more than enough to keep that sweet tooth in you happy and satisfied!

our selections were later served to our table:2013-10-11-18-14-25_decowe were actually pretty full by the time we moved on to dessert, but still soldiered on anyway because they all looked too good to resist!

my favourites were the carrot cake and the dark chocolate + caramel tart!20131011_171146
the carrot cake was really dense, moist and had a good amount of nuts, raisins and carrot strips in it. the icing on top was also very light, nice and not overly sweet at all – it went super well with the cinnamon-y cake. yummm.

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(sorry for all these pictures of half-eaten food; we were clearly too excited to tuck in)

my other favourite was the dark chocolate & caramel tart (seen at the front of this picture) – the dark chocolate was so amazingly rich and lovely and the caramel and hint of sea salt prevented it from becoming overly chocolate-y. the tart base was nice and crisp and wasn’t too thick!

the macaroons however, were quite a let-down – they were quite dry and didn’t quite crumble in the way i like them to; we didn’t touch any of the other 3 after having the first one :/ they weren’t exceedingly terrible, but we’ve certainly had better and wanted to save our stomach space for the other treats! (pierre herme macaroons forever!!!)

we also tried a slice of the traditional victoria sponge cake!
20131011_171630the sponge was nice, airy and fluffy while the cream was super fresh and light! we did find the jam a tad too sweet, but all was good otherwise. i wouldn’t exactly rave or shout about this cake, but it was definitely another simple classic done well!

all in all, we had a great experience at the marylebone hotel at a truly unbeatable price. good conversation with a great friend was made even better with such nice surroundings and yummy food, and at no point in time did we feel obliged to leave (in fact they kept asking us if we wanted fresh pots of tea) at all – we sat there from 330pm to close to 7pm without realising how much time had passed! will definitely be booking this offer again if its still available the next time i’m looking to pamper myself by indulging in some traditional british luxury 😉

The Marylebone Hotel

47 Welbeck St
London W1G 8DN

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Bea’s of Bloomsbury, London

finally got to try the much talked about Bea’s of Bloomsbury today! a friend was visiting from dublin, and we had a great catch-up over some cake and tea at this little shop just off the busy holborn stretch. it was a lovely afternoon spent in a warm and cosy cafe, seeking shelter from the freezing cold outside. when is spring coming???Imageyou won’t miss it as you make your way down theobalds road; the shop window is filled with sweet treats and according to a friend who had been before, it was even more decked out the last time she visited!

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they have a full afternoon tea that goes for £19 per head, but we opted to order individual items as we weren’t quite up to a full-blown feast (and the exercise that we would be obliged to do/guilt-tripped into doing after!!!). Image

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after some serious deliberation and inspection (life-changing decision right here) of the whole range of cupcakes, muffins, brownies, and cakes on display, we settled for a guinness chocolate slice (recommended by the waiter) and a slice of lemon meringue cheesecake.

Imagemy first thoughts on the guinness slice were that it was a bit dry, the kind of dryness that results from being left out in the open for too long. but luckily it turned out that it was only that way around the edges; after having more of it, i realised it was rich & dense but not heavy, and had the perfect amount of chocolate in it! i’m not normally a fan of chocolate cake since i dislike the feeling of “chocolate phlegm” (sorry for the gross description – i really can’t think of any other way to put it!!!) at the back of my throat but that did not happen at all with this slice – it was GOOD STUFF. as for the guinness, i couldn’t really taste much of it but perhaps that’s what makes the slice so appealing – a subtle hint of guinness combined with the perfect amount of chocolate-y goodness. YUM. oh and the icing went perfectly with the cake as well; i thought it wasn’t too sweet and topped the slice in just the right amount.

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LEMON MERINGUE CHEESECAKE: i enjoyed this cake so much that i felt the need to type its name in caps!!! the three of us at tea all agreed that it was divine!!! the meringue on top wasn’t too sweet or sour, and it was the perfect texture. the cheesecake middle was amazing – it was moist and rich but yet light such that you wouldn’t get sick of eating it, and the proportion of meringue top to cheesecake to digestive base was just right! LITTLE (okay not really little; the slice was pretty big!!!) SLICE OF HEAVEN RIGHT HERE. my two friends can attest to the fact that our conversation kept getting interrupted with my random interjections of “omg, this is SO. GOOD.” after every mouthful… oops!

Imagei also ordered a chai latte, and it was delicious; probably one of the best chai lattes i’ve tried! (i’m not a big coffee drinker so this is the drink i normally go for) perfect for a cold winter’s day. it had a generous dose of cinnamon and the perfect amount of spice to it, and i thought it was a rather generous serving despite me ordering a “small”. it was frothy and yummy and super drinkable; i will definitely be going back for more!

total bill: £10.80

ambience: cosy, casual, friendly, relaxed

service: good! patient and friendly service staff behind the counter.

who i would recommend this to: anyone with a sweet tooth looking for a nice cafe to have a little feast on sweet treats. the place is rather small though, and i can imagine it getting crowded on weekends so probably best to avoid going in large groups over the weekend.

will i return? YES! the cakes were delicious and there are sooo many more i didn’t get to try. i believe the menu and their offerings change pretty regularly as well, so that keeps things nice and exciting. might also head back to try their savouries that they serve at lunch time!

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Bea’s of Bloomsbury  (Bloomsbury branch)
44 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8NW
0207 242 8330
– rach 🙂