Tea for Two in London—Hotel Café Royal, Oscar Wilde Bar
68 Regent Street, London UK W1B 4DY
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7406 3333
When I travel, especially in the UK, I like to enjoy the tradition of afternoon tea. Sometimes it’s just casual in a museum café and other times it is somewhere iconic like the Palm Court at the Ritz London. Regardless, there is something comforting and civilized about a lovely tea service.
The Hotel Café Royal turned 150 years old in 2015 and solidified its’ place in the luxury market of London hotels. It brought French style and culture to British high society. At one point it was known to have the best wine cellar in the world. It has hosted guests from Oscar Wilde and Keats to Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie, Mohammed Ali and the late Princess Diana. It has always been a meeting place for the creative and fashionable.
Fashionable is the very best way to describe the Oscar Wilde Bar in the hotel. Gilded from top to bottom with lush red leather and velvet banquettes, the room is as dramatic as a Wilde play. The grand piano is perched in the city of the room and elegant versions of the Beatles and Adele’s greatest hits are played. Pressed white table cloths are accented with a single red rose. White-gloved tuxedoed servers gracefully maneuver through the room. It does not take a lot of imagination to picture Oscar in his favourite corner booth where he enjoyed lavish dinners, an overabundance of champagne and gossiping about the ‘who’s who’.
Creative is the best way to describe the Royal London Tea—the hotel’s playful take on the traditional pastime. You begin with selecting your tea from dozens of options, each complete with it’s own bio and flavor profile. Then comes your 3-tiered platter of sandwiches including coronation chicken, cucumber and beetroot brioche, quail’s egg and cress and mini Chorizo Wellingtons. The star here is the sidecar muffin—a savoury muffin with truffled cream cheese and a pipette filled with a sauce for you to infuse it with. Brilliant.
To cleanse the palate, the server brought an iced hibiscus tea which worked wonders. Another 3-tiered platter arrived from the kitchen adorned with sweets and cakes. The desserts were edible pieces of art which included ricepaper flags, gold leaf, and edible flowers. Battenberg cake, ‘Keep Calm and Carry-On’ cake pops, and other treats took over the next course. My favourite is a plum flavoured delicacy with a chocolate top adorned with gold leaf. It was an intense punch of flavor that excited the tastebuds. My second favourite was the Queen of Hearts—a champagne and rose infused tart inspired by Alice in Wonderland. If this wasn’t enough, warm scones were then delivered with butter, clotted cream and homemade preserves.
I think this is the perfect tea if you want something different and less serious than some of the other luxury hotels. Afternoon tea is meant to be leisurely but ensure you have a couple hours to enjoy the Royal London Tea. Be sure to arrive hungry because there is absolutely no shortage of food. Dress code is smart casual but when you are a room as brilliant as the Oscar Wilde Bar, it’s better to be overdressed. The cost of the tea starts at approximately $80 and goes up if you add champagne. Reservations are required and we booked almost 3 months in advance.
And if you see the beautiful stained glass 'N' in the entrance of the lobby, it was unfortunately not there to welcome me. It is actually there to honour Napoleon, not Neil—another reminder of the hotel's French roots.