I arrived at The Cavendish for my afternoon tea in full-on panic mode.
There had been an accident on the trains and I was almost an hour late (I hate being late despite having called ahead to let the hotel know). However, the moment I entered The Cavendish, my unease fell away as I slipped effortlessly into their ‘home away from home’ atmosphere.
I was directed up to the first floor, where the Christmas décor was up and I felt the stress of my travails on the tube fall away. Once we reached the restaurant, we were given a choice of tables and went for one with plush armchairs which let you sink in without being oddly too high or low. The Cavendish is well-known for its traditional British décor and cuisine.
I had been looking forward to afternoon tea at The Cavendish, because I’d been told they try to source all their ingredients locally, as well as attempting to be as green as possible, which is impressive.
We were treated to a festive take on afternoon tea, which had an array of sandwiches with Christmas themes, such as turkey and cranberry sauce and ham and apple sauce. Being veggie, I was given a well-balanced goat’s cheese sandwich with a warming onion chutney.
Hot drinks with the Cavendish afternoon tea are endless and refillable, allowing you to taste quite a variety. We both started rather safely, sticking to what we know – I went for earl grey whilst my guest a coffee. Then throughout the course of the afternoon, we tried several teas; my favourite by far being the rosebud tea – sweet and fragrant with a cafetiere full of small rosebuds which I found incredibly pretty.
I have a super sweet tooth, so the cranberry and orange scones were right up my street. I took a small bite of The Cavendish’s take on coffee and walnut cake, which was too ‘coffee’ for me (I am definitely not a coffee drinker!) but my guest was more than happy to take it off my hands. Their mince pies were rather original and coated in a glaze but still sweet and Christmassy. The berry and cream tart was also lovely, in a delicately light and sweet way. The mini chocolate torte was also wildly enjoyed by my guest, but by this point I was ready to burst and couldn’t eat any more.
Whilst we sat in the lounge digesting our tea, we did some people watching and noticed a group of ladies enjoying a pre-theatre round of afternoon tea; and considering The Cavendish’s ultra-central location, we thought this a perfectly sensible idea. They do in fact offer a special pre-theatre dining menu too. However, our tea definitely felt like a 3 course meal in itself and I’m certain it would keep you full for an entire evening.
We also watched the way in which The Cavendish staff adroitly dealt with even the merest hint of complaint. A man was rather vociferous about an aspect of his meal that he was unhappy with and it was interesting to watch how smoothly he was addressed and how quickly he was soothed, with his meal replaced exactly to his requirements without any fuss.
The Cavendish is renowned for hiring and retaining great staff, coming 35th in the Sunday Times ’100 Best Small Companies to Work For’ last year, so perhaps this should not have surprised me.
I felt perfectly at home at The Cavendish – you feel far away from the bustle of the West End but you are actually right in the mix for everything that London has to offer. Winter Wonderland is currently taking place in Hyde Park and The Cavendish is within walking distance; this is actually what my guest and I did next, to work off our afternoon tea!
I’d recommend the festive tea to anyone seeking a winter warmer and only suggest you save room for the delicious scones! And at the current £18 per person, it is surprisingly good value for central London and may soon challenge our list of top 5 best-value London hotel afternoon teas.
Photo credits: Saloni LHI blogger, The Cavendish Hotel.
Disclosure: we were guests of The Cavendish.