If you have read my Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley post or follow me on Intagram you will realise my love for the quintessential British tradition – Afternoon Tea is something I take very seriously. It is also something I try to partake in at every opportunity so when my husband and I visited London for a cheeky break last weekend it was essential that I had somewhere booked to cure my craving. As soon as our weekend was confirmed I set about booking a cakey treat. On this occasion I booked the Waldorf Hilton, 45 Aldwych, London.
The Waldorf Hilton is a massive hotel which stands proudly in the centre of the Theatre District of London, in fact the Aldwych Theatre (which as at 28/02/2015 is showing Beautiful, The Carole King musical) and the Novello Theatre (which as at 28/03/2015 is showing Mama Mia!) flank either side of this building. It is impossible to miss this hotel, it fits in perfectly with its glitzy theatre neighbours with its large lit up sign, gold walls and black awnings above each ground floor window.
Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Hilton is served in the beautiful Homage Grand Salon featuring stunning Louis XVI-style décor with hard wood floors and huge hanging chandeliers. However, it is not very well sign posted and when we finally did find it we found an empty reception desk. A short time later we were greeted by a very friendly young lady. I explained that we were 15 minutes early for our reservation – not a problem – she could seat us straight away! Fantastic(!) We were given a table closest to the hustle and bustle of the kitchen butted right up to a pillar which meant I had to apologise to the poor girl at the next table as my bum passed her arm with only centimetres to spare (sorry again!).
Coats taken it was time to get down to the good stuff! First things first – ordering which afternoon tea you want. My husband and I decided on the Aldwych Afternoon tea complete with Mumm rosé champagne – which was delicious. The only difference between the afternoon teas is what you choose to drink with it. You can simply have tea, sparkling wine, champagne, rosé champagne or vintage champagne. I personally think an afternoon tea isn’t complete without a glass of the fizzy stuff but each to their own. Unfortunately, a top up or any other drink, including water, wasn’t offered.
Sandwiches were brought instantly and menus whipped away. My husband had to ask for one back so he could actually read about what he was eating. I was kind of disappointed as we were not asked if we had any dietary requirements, guess I should have mentioned this when I booked? However I have never had to anywhere else before. I personally would have liked vegetarian sandwiches. Never mind I had the some of the veggie ones (egg and watercress in basil bread, cheese and cucumber in carrot bread and tomato and cheese in Mediterranean bread – which was a definite favourite) and my husband was in his element eating all the meaty and fishy ones (smoked salmon and cream cheese in brown bread and ham and mustard in onion bread). The sandwiches were nice, if not very plain – maybe some fancier fillings would have been appreciated? I understand that this is a traditional afternoon tea but in my opinion this selection edged more towards boring.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I love tea. Without my usual 10 cups a day I am not my happy self. However, I am a boring tea drinker and usually stick with English Breakfast as I did this time. Tea is served in lovely china teapots together with a timer so you know when your brew is ready to drink. I thought this was a cute idea and something I have never seen before. There are three timers – one for black, one for green and one for white tea. I’m sure we are all capable of knowing when our tea is ready to drink but I really enjoyed watching the sand slide down eager for my first cup of hot goodness.
As soon as the last mouthful of sandwich was swallowed a 3 tiered cake stand appeared in the middle of the table. On the stand were 4 tiny scones, a small pot of cream, a small pot of jam and half a dozen small pastries. Mr ESLT and I looked at each other as if to say ‘is that it?’ the waitress rattled off in one breath what everything was and disappeared. It would have been nice for the pastries to be listed in the menu so you can see what it is that you are actually putting in your mouth and what it is made of. I must say I do like scones and was happy to find a chocolate chip scone included. My husband and I cut this one in half to share. Unfortunately, my husband found it very dry and almost impossible to swallow. I piled mine high with clotted cream to moisten it. I personally found the scones ok, again nothing special and definitely not warm like scones should be. The pastries were fine, nothing to write home about but perfectly edible.
All things considered I think the £51.50 per person plus £5 supplement per people because it was a Saturday(!) price tag for what we received was pretty steep. Don’t get me wrong the room is lovely, the waiting staff very friendly and polite but the variety, quality, quantity and rushed experience meant paying £127.10 (including a 12.5% service charge) left a slight sour taste in my mouth. I have paid more elsewhere however have felt it was worth the money. I believe there are often half price deals available (via Wowcher and other discount sites) for afternoon tea at the Waldorf Hilton which I feel is a more realistic price of what the hotel should be charging all of the time.