Baglioni Hotel, London – Stile Italiano
I have a bit of a thing about afternoon tea. There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending the afternoon indulging in a glass of fizz, a cup of freshly brewed tea, sandwiches, scones and of course those all-important sweet pastries and cakes. While an Italian afternoon tea seems just a little counter intuitive, I have a particularly soft spot for Italian biscuits, cannoli and of course for Italian bread. So an invitation to Baglioni Hotel in Kensington, was one not to be missed.
The elegant five-star Baglioni Hotel sits opposite Kensington Gardens, just a few minutes walk from High Street Kensington. Everything about the Baglioni says luxury, from the covered entrance to the marble floors and dramatic gilded lighting. The Italian Afternoon Tea is one of four set options and there’s also an a la carte offering. Tea is served in the Brunello Bar and Restaurant, a blend of classic and contemporary styling,
Joined by Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi, our window seat also gave us a great spot to people-watch and catch up with the gossip. With the table elegantly dressed with white linen tablecloth and napkins, I couldn’t wait for tea to arrive.
But first, a glass of fizz. Prosecco is served with the Italian afternoon tea (£42 pp), though there are other afternoon tea options with Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial or with Ruinart, while the entry level tea is served without alcohol and priced accordingly.
There’s a decent, if short, tea and tisane menu, from which I picked the Darjeeling summer tea, which was light, fresh and really didn’t need milk. In my opinion, properly served loose leaf tea is one of life’s joys.
Tea arrived, on a contemporary styled tower but without the scones, which we learnt would be served freshly baked on request.
There was a range of sandwiches; a delicate peppery egg, rocket and mayo on white bread, deliciously flavoured oak smoked Scottish salmon with fresh cream and chives on brown, sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta cheese, chicken with mayo and focaccia bread with bresaola and buffala mozzarella cheese. All delicious, my personal favourite was the smoked salmon. We both enjoyed the focaccia and, if there’s any criticism of this Italian afternoon tea, it’s that there is only one Italian savoury. Most of the rest is classic British stuff, with a few Italian twists on the fillings.
We couldn’t help ourselves, the Cannoli looked delicious. Now, I am one of those rare Brits who has actually tried to make Cannoli. As our Sicilian instructor said, the whole affair was ‘disastro’. I remember how hard it was to mould the paper-thin dough around the special cannoli tubes and then deep fry them till crisp. And how we had to sieve the fresh sweetened ricotta three times to get the right consistency for the filling. All in all, a lot of effort…
Unless you have masochistic tendencies it is much better, I believe, to find somewhere you can buy a good fresh cannoli. The cannoli serve here was the real thing – fresh, crisp and filled with a light ricotta cream, finished with pistachios.
Meanwhile, our freshly baked scones had arrived – one plain and one fruit scone each. Served with clotted cream and jam or nutella, the obvious solution was to try both toppings. I have to admit, I think I’ll be sticking to jam – while I love nutella, it’s just a little too rich as a topping for a scone.
As it should be, the selection of sweets and cakes was the highlight of the event. Apart from the cannoli, there was a classic tiramisu, a berry tart with lemon cream, a curious Italian pastry called a sfogliatina Napoletana, served with chocolate and, dainty little Baci di dama (ladies kiss).
I loved the intricacy of the sfogliatina, but my personal favourite, after the cannoli, was the delicious berry tart.
The tea was excellent – and reasonably priced for a meal which will lasted me all day. If you are looking for a quieter and more discrete location for afternoon tea, the Baglioni is the perfect option. It’s not as busy as the Park Lane hotels, yet every bit as luxurious.
With many thanks to Baglioni Hotel for hosting us
60 Hyde Park Gate,
London SW7 5BB.