The Dorchester’s lobby, The Promenade, is known as ‘the drawing room of Mayfair’ – hotel guests flutter through in elegant attire, long-time residents settle in to their favourite spots with a paper, and tourists tuck into the legendary afternoon tea. Though a bustling thoroughfare, the intimate seating areas allow you to enjoy afternoon tea in peace, reclined on one of the plush goose down cushioned sofas. Marble columns line the room, while huge lamp shades cast a golden glow onto white linen table cloths crammed with afternoon tea classics.
The Dalreoch tea selection, grown 2400 feet up in the Scottish Highlands, is the star of the show here, brought to the table to infuse in a syphon. The unique oxidisation technique gives the tea a consistent brew and provides a bubbly spectacle at the table. This particular Dalreoch tea selection is exclusive to the Dorchester – Garrocher Grey infuses flowers from the New Orleans Monarda plant with Scottish black tea to create a fragrant, smoky Earl Grey alternative. Dalreoch White is light and fruity, with peachy notes, and Dalreoch Smoked White has a delicate sweet-smoky aroma that is the perfect accompaniment for smoked salmon sandwiches.
As well as smoked salmon on granary, finger sandwiches include thick pieces of chicken on soft basil bread with a balancing layer of mustard mayo; crunchy grilled veg on sweet tomato bread; and cucumber and cream cheese spiced-up with caraway seed bread. Warm scones are delivered fresh from the oven and are made to The Dorchester’s ancient recipe. Whole strawberries give the classic jam extra texture, golden French Mirabelle plum jam was the sweet seasonal choice, and our clotted cream was one of the most generous portions we’ve ever seen.
Scones and sandwiches are topped up as you please, but leave plenty of space for the succession of desserts – a refreshing white chocolate pre-dessert with pear compote and crunchy biscuit, followed by trays of tiny cakes to choose from. The pick of the pastries was hazelnut and elderflower layered cake with a crisp demerara sugar base, but all of them impressed.
Chocolate brownie had a subtle banana twist and a crisp feuilletine-textured layer, decorated with pure chocolate discs and a pinch of lime rind; quince and guava was an unusual and delicious combination in the choux pastry ball; and a tiny lemon tart was given a coconut meringue lift. Finally, manageable slices of double chocolate velvet cake with double cream and classic English lemon drizzle cake were brought to the table while we finished our freshly topped up Dalreoch blends.
Star of the show: Garrocher Grey tea and the hazelnut and elderflower cake
Scone rating: 8/10
Perfect for: An intimate afternoon tea treat, with what looks like royalty watching
Price: The Dorchester traditional afternoon tea is £55 per person and £65-72 depending on your choice of champagne; Dom Perigean afternoon tea £90
Pop in to Parcafé on Park Lane for coffee and cake in a less formal environment, without missing out on The Dorchester’s impeccable quality and sourcing. Artisan coffee from Alchemy roasters, Harney and Sons teas, and beautiful tarts, cakes and sandwiches can be enjoyed in the Italian-style café complete with dark wood furnishings, marble floors and a bright yellow La Marzocco espresso machine.
Got you in the mood for afternoon tea? Here’s our round up of the best afternoon teas in London.