The Handbook is a sucker for afternoon teas, at least one of us will be feasting on scones at some point on during the week and don’t get us started on the cream/jam debate. I just started it and as I’ve just been told ‘the Queen puts jam first and so we win’. This time queenie I disagree. Anyway, what we can agree on is that the Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London’s new Royal afternoon tea is excellent, jam or cream first and here are five reasons you should go.
The rumours are circulating about the imminent arrival of the Royal baby: it’s going to be brought up a vegan, it’s actually going to be twins, it will be gender neutral and it’s already been born. Whether any of it is true (most likely not), the arrival of a new baby is something to celebrate and the Shangri -La Hotel, at The Shard, London is marking the occasion with a new Royal High Tea. Not that we ever need an excuse to eat cake, we’re currently working our way through a cake that would make even Bruce Bogtrotter come out in hives. Running until the 12th May, the tea isn’t just about Meghan, any expectant mother who goes will receive a surprise special gift – hopefully not your waters breaking…
Alongside signature Shangri-La loose leaf teas, the team has also created two cocktails and two mocktails. For those who aren’t drinking then I recommend the Rock-A-Bye Baby, a pink, creamy, berry mocktail made with condensed milk (I’m a fiend for condensed milk, I’ll eat it straight from the tin given a chance) and topped with a pink meringue. And with no alcohol it means you can knock them back without worrying about feeling the effects. If you are drinking, then there’s a striking blue Little Prince cocktail, made from gin, blue curacao, pineapple, lemon and Pastis Glacial mint. We were also brought over a refreshing citrus tea which arrived in a dramatic haze of dry ice…that got us all the attention both in the restaurant and over on Instagram. #Influencers.
Continuing the theme, all the cakes and pastries pay homage to the chefs’ childhoods by being based on recipes that their mothers, grandmothers and sisters taught them. When I think of fruit cake, I always think of family gatherings held at my Granny’s house. I also think of my Papa sitting down with a hefty slab of cake and a cup of tea after being in the garden and so Executive Chef Jeremy’s take on his mother’s Bara Brith, (a welsh fruit loaf) made me instantly nostalgic. It’s also wonderfully moist and rich, I ate both slices. There’s also a particularly good blueberry cheesecake, based on Head Pastry Chef Benoit’s mother’s recipe and a chocolate biscuit and passion fruit cream shaped like a pram from Executive sous chef David. Of course, as well as cakes you’ll find sandwiches and scones both of which are unlimited, and yes we did get multiple plates of the ham and piccalilli sandwich, it was just.so.good.
The Handbook office has many benefits, but what it doesn’t have is a good view. Like my primary school, a Victorian building with high windows, the frosted glass means we don’t get distracted by the outside world (I think it’s more for security, rather than keeping us blinkered), so whenever I go somewhere where I can see out of the window I get a little giddy and the Shangri-La has one heck of a view. Even its loos have a view. I’ll never get bored of being in The Shard and the hotel has won the lottery in being able to serve afternoon tea with a dramatic backdrop. Sipping Champagne and eating scones whilst looking out of the sprawling mass of London, watching the trains pull in and out of London Bridge and Tower Bridge drawing up, it’s an experience I’ll never tire of.
Service can make or break an experience and, not that I would expect anything less from the team, but the service was impeccable. As soon as my glass was empty it was refilled as if by magic. We were never wanting for anything, but equally they weren’t imposing, it was royal treatment to match a royal afternoon tea.
The Royal High Tea is available until 12th May 2019 and all expecting mothers also receive a complimentary gift from the hotel when celebrating their baby shower with a Royal High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London.