An Elegant Tea in the Stunning Lobby Lounge – Corinthia Hotel:
On the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall Place, the Corinthia Hotel seems perfectly situated for visitors to central London. Those who don’t know the place can be forgiven, although the building originally opened as the Metropole Hotel, during both World Wars it was requisitioned by the Government and laterly used as the headquarters for MI19. After the Second World War it was bought and transferred to the Crown Estate to be used by the Government until it was sold in 2007. The refurbished hotel re-opened in 2011 as the Corinthia. The interior seamlessly fuses Victorian features with contemporary design creating a refined and elegant venue, currently decorated for Christmas with fantastic floral arrangements, columns of silver and white decked fir trees, a collection of gingerbread houses and a 10 foot edible gingerbread Christmas tree.
Afternoon tea is served in the Lobby Lounge.
There’s a central area, beneath what must be the largest glitter ball in the world, with larger tables for groups, while tables for two surrounding the central lobby have comfy leather club chairs bordered by their own tree. It’s intimate and luxurious without being oppressive.
What of the tea though?
We started, as you should, with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne while we chose our tea. I was pleased to find a wide selection on offer both of blends and single estate teas including some lovely tributes to the hotel’s heritage. How about the Winston Churchill Blend – Lapsang Imperial, described as ‘deep, rich and smoky’. Or the Bert Firman 1921 – a Kenyan blend infused with mandarin and cornflowers in tribute to the youngest bandleader in the world who lead the Midnight Follies at the Metropole. With one of those hard to shake off winter colds, I chose the Sencha Fukujyu, a light, delicate tea which the menu informed me was ‘high in vitamin C’.
Finger sandwiches were perfectly fresh and nicely balanced. I couldn’t pick a favourite – the mixture was a classic selection with just a hint of seasonal twist in the roast turkey and stuffing with fresh cranberry compote. The roast beef was rare and the salmon was delicate and not over smoked. Delicious.
Plain and raisin scones came with strawberry and raspberry jam and a good helpng of clotted cream. These were a refined and delicate offering, probably a good idea given the excellent selection of cakes to follow.
In an afternoon tea, while the scones, sandwiches and tea itself are almost set pieces, the cakes are more often, as at the Corinthia, a showcase for the creativity and ingenuity of the Pastry Chef. The menu lists seasonally inspired ‘fancies’; Jack Frost, Stocking Stuffer, Sugar Plum Fairy, The Scrooge, Rudolph, Yuletide Treasure, Santa’s Little Helper and Avalanche.
We’d both got excited by the idea of Santa’s Little Helper – a chestnut cream and blackcurrant macaron with sugar snowflake. Something of a chestnut fan, I found the blackcurrant a little overwhelming, though the macaron was beautifully crisp on the outside and just slightly chewy inside as you’d expect.
My favourite was the Sugar Plum Fairy – a beautifully spicy tartlet with a seasonal sprig of (chocolate) holly on top.
But it’s hard to pick – and definitely a matter of personal taste. The selection was beautifully executed and stunningly presented in elegant and luxurious surroundings. If you are lucky to go, I’m sure like me, you’ll find it hard to pick a winner from this festive tea.
London-Unattached was served a complimentary afternoon tea for the purpose of a review. All views are my own and I did not receive a payment to write this feature
Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD UNITED KINGDOM
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7930 8181
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org