Brown’s Hotel has a rich history and some very delicious scones and I had the pleasure of experiencing its gloriousness on one fine Thursday in October.
The English Tea Room is famed as being host to one of the most elegant (and tasty) afternoon teas in London. It’s like the Queen of teas, making it no surprise that Queen Victoria herself used to take her tea amongst its decadence. If you haven’t heard about the tea via whisperings passed from one Londoner to the next, then here’s a small introduction to the glitz and glam that awaits you…
Rocco Forte Hotels took over Brown’s Hotel in London’s fashionable Mayfair, in July 2003. The oldest hotel in London, dating back to 1837, it was established the same year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, resulting in many a scone! After a £23 million refurbishment in 2004/5, Brown’s five-star doors opened to traditional décor, mixed with lively colours and flora and fauna wallpapers. Designs were overseen by Olga Polizzi and its 82 luxury bedrooms and 33 suites showcase her talents in keeping with clean, fresh feels and unique artefacts.
Adding to this detailed history is Agatha Christie herself, who wrote ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ here, Brown’s previous name, inspired by its Champagne afternoon tea experiences. And, on the topic of creativity, Donovan’s bar, named after British photographer, Terence Donovan, whose black and white prints hang proudly on the walls, has a ‘Naughty Corner’ for after dark snacks and a huge choice of cocktails and wines.
The Michelin-starred restaurant, Charlie’s, named after the Forte founder, Lord Charles, allures you with its a la carte menu – try hot muffins and crème fraiche or mouth-watering Sunday roasts, cooked by renowned chefs. It’s easy to imagine how Rudyard Kipling relaxed and completed his ‘Jungle Book’ here. Meeting rooms can cater for 8-120 guests and there is a spa and 24-hour gym to soothe after a long day sightseeing. Valet parking is on hand, or even a chauffeured Bentley and you can pop in with your pocket pooch as dogs are welcome, on request. With short walks to Buckingham Palace, boutique shops and Berkley Square, a singing nightingale would not be a huge surprise!
Alas, it appears I’ve veered slightly off-piste but Brown’s is such a treasure trove of experience that could, and should, be incorporated into a day out at this spellbinding hotel.
The English Tea Room pampers you from the off, lulling guests into a sense of relaxation with a live pianist tinkering away to the tune of vintage classics. You’ll sit soft, amongst Paul Smith lighting, coveted fabrics and eye-catching artworks and peruse a tea menu displaying a smorgasbord of teas, including Brown’s own blend. Waistcoat wearing waiting staff are quick to sashay over with Champagne glasses, filling them up with chilled Ruinart NV Champagne to put a smile on any face.
With the palette whet, a traditional Gong Fu Tea Set becomes the centre of attention, and rightly so. I enjoyed a divine Earl Grey, the bergamot flirting with the taste buds. The tea selection is impressive, with herbal teas available in abundance and more obscure offerings including pineapple teas. There’s also the opportunity to pick the brain of a tea sommelier should you require, ready to answer all of your brewing questions…
Next, out whirls succulent finger sandwiches, all showcasing British classics that inject nostalgia into the mix; from egg and cress to coronation chicken. Once your savoury side has been satisfied, you’ll enjoy a tapestry of delicate pastries, fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, washing it all down with Champagne and tea top-ups.
If afternoon tea is your bag then this is, undoubtedly, an afternoon tea to check off the bucket list. But think fast, you don’t want the tea to be going, going, scone…
Browns can be found at Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP, www.roccofortehotels.com
The English Tea Room is open between 7am and 11pm daily, to make a reservation, or for further information, please call Brown’s Hotel on 020 7493 6020.