… if you have even the slightest eye for fashion you’ll be aware that the quilted raincoat has been in fashion for the past few years… originated by Barbour they have now been knocked off by everyone from the humble high-street regulars to the haute couture houses alike, some are very good and some are rather dreadful but they are everywhere and worn by everyone. I always believe that once something reaches this point of saturation if you’re going to jump onto the bandwagon you’re best, regardless of cost, to go to the originator… otherwise, whilst you may have yourself a very comfortable jacket, you will sadly be seen on the ‘follower’ knock-off side of things…
… i feel this way about afternoon tea… why, particularly if you’re in London, would you not go to Fortnum and Mason’s or The Wolseley or Claridges or The Ritz, or even a place that nod’s to the classics but does it stylishly in their own way such as Beas of Bloomsbury… and don’t tell me this is about price either, after-all we’re talking about a once or twice a year treat so it really surprises me that the good folk at Virgin Experience Days teamed with Radisson Blu Edwardian for their Champagne Tea for Two experience…
… to give them credit I imagine that this was a corporate decision based on past affiliations and I’m sure that when the Radisson presented the Virgin team with their sample tasting experience it was done at one of the better hotels in the chain and planned as meticulously as the trouping of the colour. I also imagine that I picked one of the least favourable hotels to eat at as The Viking and I passed two other very swanky looking Radisson Blu’s en-route to the Radisson Blu Kenilworth Hotel on Great Russell Street… we even entered the hotel on the wrong side of the road and was at first very impressed by the beautifully contemporary lobby complete with giant 18ft red stag nestling on a padded sofa, only to be swiftly told by the concierge that we were in the wrong hotel and escorted across the road to the slightly more ‘corporate’ looking version…
… our staff were delightful if a little confused by our presence. Clearly one of them had been informed of our arrival and made an effort to at least seem as though he knew why we were there but the other two remained perplexed throughout. From a reasonable selection The Viking chose an English Breakfast and I went for an Earl Grey and our tea was duly served in some very elegant ball-shaped teapots alongside some rather snazzy ‘glass-within-a-glass’ cups and there were no complaints. A few moments later the triple-layered afternoon tea set was delivered and i’m afraid to say it really wasn’t very good. It simply lacked any elegance. On the bottom layer were the sandwiches which were made with yesterday’s bread. The egg mayonnaise in the egg mayonnaise sandwiches was barely there whilst the cucumber slices in the cucumber sandwiches had clearly been cut by a heavy handed car mechanic. The next layer up contained two wedges of many-day-old lemon cake, a chocolate brownie that was shockingly bad and two pieces of patisserie that were both orange in pink in colour and taste. The top layer held two scones with a bowl of fresh clotted cream and fresh strawberries which actually added a nice touch but sadly did very little to redeem the whole experience. It was at this point, towards the end of the tea that I had to call the waiter over to remind him that this was supposed to be a ‘champagne’ tea for two before we were served with two glasses of non-descript bubbles…
… it is such a shame really and I feel dreadful for this negative review but I have to be honest and my honest opinion is that had it not been free I would have complained, particularly about the sandwiches. Had I paid it would have been just over £30 each which is unexceptable for what was delivered to the table… I must also apologise for the quality of the photography too but from the moment we sat down the staff took in unto themselves to turn down the lighting every 15 minutes or so so that by the time we left the room was in near darkness… very strange..
With Valentines Day fast approaching I was hoping to be able to recommend a new place to take your loved one but my suggestion would be to stick with the classics, show your knowledge as a trendsetter of fashion and go buy a Barbour.
Sally Sellwood says
what a shame 🙁
What a shame! I love a good afternoon tea. I've yet to better a special treat at The Ritz so agree that sticking with the classics pays dividends.
Oh what a shame. A good afternoon tea is such a treat. It sounds as though they have just jumped on the bandwagon without putting any thought or care into it at all. Looking forward to that afternoon tea we never had back in June!
That is a real shame, the cake tier in particular looks shocking! Best afternoon tea I've had was at Rocke Cottage tea rooms in Shropshire, for my mum's birthday. We actually had to ask for some of the cake to be packed up to take away as there was so much!
Keep Calm and Fanny On says
How awful, a great afternoon tea is a delight and should really be as much about the experience as the lovely food. Imagine they didn't know you were coming!
Rebecca Subbiah says
so sorry the experience wasn't good
Mark Willis says
Dom, you are usually so up-beat that if even you say the experience was bad, then it must have been REALLY bad! I think we have stayed at that same hotel (unfortunately) and we actually had Room 101 (which was as bad as the number would suggest). Very poor all round. We were kept waiting in the lobby for several hours, despite the fact that the stay there was a prize, which should have been a bit special.
Jane Willis says
Yes, that was the hotel where we had the Room 101 experience – it was so bad that we got them to transfer us to the hotel across the road! It sounds like a pretty dismal experience, Dom, a far cry from the afternoon tea at the Mariott City Hall I had last year, where it was gorgeous. Tier after tier of elegant and delicious titbits, with some diabetes-friendly treats made specially for me. That was through one of the other experience days companies and I think they made the better choice when it came to partner hotels!
Magnolia Verandah says
Oh dear what a shame, especially when expectations are so high as they should be.
I can also recomend the Marriott City Hall afternoon tea, it's lovely. I'm not so sure about the other experience companies, I had an awaful experience with Buyagift and they work with Radisson as well.