Ham Yard Hotel’s ethos matches its bold name; expect bags of character, typical of all Firmdale Hotels, from co-owner Kit Kemp’s bright and colourful interiors, with patterned textiles, unique finds such as reclaimed African prints and plenty of original artwork.
Make your way past the large bronze sculpture outside, through the statement lobby adorned with yellow and blue armchairs and a neon silk thread and copper feature, then choose between the drawing room and adjoined Orangery for afternoon tea. The latter has an airy, conservatory theme that brings the outside in, with mismatched whicker and wooden garden furniture scattered across the stone paved flooring, lanterns and potted plants throughout, and original framed artwork lining exposed brick walls. A glass ceiling opens up in the summer and the central glass wall provides prime people-watching opportunities into the hotel’s drawing room and bar area.
Designer Kit Kemp’s attention to detail filters all the way down to the personalised Wedgewood crockery – dancing mythical creatures from her favourite Indian fabric literally look like they have been stitched on to teacups and saucers. Tea comes from My Cup of Tea next door; 2nd Flush Darjeeling is a smooth blend of Darjeeling subtle green silver tips, caramel and black tea, or try one of the many speciality teas (woody, smoky Lapsang Souchong, delicate White Jasmine, or citrussy Russian Blend Lady Grey). Ramp it up with a choice from the extensive sparkling wine menu, or try a Ham Yard tonic – Portobello Road gin, Campari, St Germain, grapefruit bitters and homemade tonic.
The afternoon tea menu rotates, but expect savouries such as red onion and goat’s cheese tart with a crisp, light filo casing and deep fried tortilla crisps with creamy, zesty guacamole. Duck sliders were a highlight – think crispy duck pancake in a mini brioche bun, complete with hoisin sauce and cucumber. Though the bread was a little dry, fillings were delicious: chicken with tarragon mayo; and salmon, cream cheese and dill. There’s plenty to eat, but order some extras from the additional menu – the Ham Yard melt is a crisp, comforting concoction of house-glazed ham and Gruyère, Scarmoza and cheddar cheeses with thyme in a mini toastie.
Save room for whacky twists on sweet cakes and pastries. The intriguing combination of coconut, apricot and hazelnut really works in a macaroon; an orange financier is light and delicate with almond and tiny meringue on top; and the coffee tartlet with a subtle liquorice twist has a creamy mousse filling, as does the earl grey tea profiterole.
For a colourful afternoon tea with a bit of oomph, Ham Yard Hotel certainly delivers, and it’s a great way to enjoy the trendy, glamorous setting