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Honey afternoon tea as St Ermin’s celebrates 350,000 honey bees in residence:
When I first learnt of the bees on the roof of St Ermin’s Hotel it must have been around the time I started writing London-Unattached, in 2012. I can remember learning that it was all part of a programme to bring the bee population back to London. Bees are an essential part of our ecology – they help to pollinate certain plants and without them, we wouldn’t be able to grow several types of fruit and vegetables.
But, sadly, overuse of pesticides has resulted in a declining bee population. And, London is a great place for bees to live, with many of the stunning parks like Hyde Park and St James’s within a three-mile radius of the hotel. That means the bees can collect a wide variety of pollen and nectar so that their honey tastes delicious. There’s a kitchen garden for the hotel on the roof too – so the bees help pollinate some of the vegetables that are grown for guests to enjoy!
For those that don’t live up on the roof, there is now some special accommodation on the third floor of the hotel where they have the ‘Bee and Bee Hotel’ – specially designed hexagonal suites with nesting areas and space for solitary bees. It’s a wonderful ecological microcosm, right in the heart of the City.
But, best of all, at least in my opinion, is that we can all now enjoy the hotel’s honey afternoon tea. I went along to the impressive St Ermin’s Hotel to try it out.
The tea room at St Ermin’s manages to be colourful, stylish, comfy and traditional without being in the least bit fusty. Tucked away in a corner on the first floor, it’s a quiet oasis where you can indulge yourself with afternoon tea and prosecco.
Newby Teas are served in pretty teapots and there’s a reasonable tea menu which includes my favourite Sencha. The teas come in oversized teabags which appear to have been designed simply so that the tea itself isn’t allowed to stew in the pot…there are small trays to remove your teabag once the timer provided indicates it is at its best.
The savoury plate was mostly sandwiches – with just a couple of nods to the honey theme of the menu. I particularly enjoyed the Honey and mustard chicken with red cabbage coleslaw and rocket, though it came in a brown rye bread roll rather than the white bread sandwich on the menu. Other savouries comprised a dainty smoked salmon sandwich on white bread with crème fraiche and cucumber which had a nice texture thanks to the cucumber, a delicate goats cheese roll with apricot chutney, almond flakes and bee pollen, glazed pork loin with oak smoked cheddar cheese, caramelised onion & watercress on rye bread and a cottage cheese sandwich with carrots, sultanas, shallots and honey truffle sauce which was perhaps my least favourite.
Scones were deliciously fresh, plain and fruit served with clotted cream and bramble jam (we were offered alternatives). And we watched enviously as the young guest at the next door table was served her own ‘honeycomb’ kids tea – complete with chocolate bees. We must have looked so desparate that we did get our own which we both took home.
Of course the highlight of any afternoon tea should be the pastries and here they were really very good indeed. The Mini Bee Hive was a light and fluffy orange yoghurt mousse on a honey sponge base.
Under any normal circumstances I’d probably have rated the chocolate and espresso cup as my personal favourite
But actually I enjoyed all three of the the ‘second tier’ pastries, including the honey & lemon cheesecake on sesame praline
And my personal favourite was on the top tier.
I really loved the delicate matcha sponge with a piquant yuzu and honey crème mousseline and a topping of blackberry jelly and a gilded fresh blackberry.
And, I enjoyed the burnt honey jelly, jasmine pannacotta & granola – almost as a palate cleanser at the end of the tea.
It was a beautiful and very appropriately seasonal afternoon tea that we both appreciated. And, it’s on the menu till the middle of November 2017 – so why not pin this post for your next visit to town.
At £29 for the tea (£15 for the kids tea) or £35 for the version with unlimited prosecco the St Ermin’s Hotel Honey Afternoon Tea is a good value option if you’d like to try a London afternoon tea with all the trimmings. The surroundings are suitably elegant and our service was exemplary.
St. Ermin’s Hotel,
London SW1H 0QW