It was a lovely bit of serendipity that was the inspiration for this particular blog post. The week before Christmas I was offered a single (first class no less) train ticket from London Euston to Birmingham New Street on the 6th January. Coincidentally this is the day after my 24th (again) birthday. I immediately said yes, I can indeed use this ticket and asked the wife if she was free to meet me in London. Never one to say no to a London trip she booked her husband to look after the kids and we started to think what we could do to celebrate our birthdays (the wife turned 24 (again) on the 2nd December).
Narrowing down the options for afternoon tea in London
It is hard not to have a fabulous time in London though as there are so many things to do. We thought about a matinee and also afternoon tea (the title of this post might have given away what we went for) and I started searching. The other thing about London is that there is too much choice and too many options especially when everything sounds so fabulous.
I really wanted an afternoon tea that was a different to what we could get outside of the capital and be one that a Londoner might want to experience. Now I don’t know whether we found the second but I think we definitely found the first. But what else made the short list? Now some of the following don’t lend themselves to afternoon tea during the first week of January due to the strange limbo time between Christmas and New Year but they are still worth an investigation:
- Afternoon tea at the British Museum. This is one of the more affordable (at £19.50) afternoon teas I found and scores points on the venue as you sit and overlook the entrance to the museum. It would definitely add a celebratory element to a day.
- Afternoon tea at the Ampersand Hotel. This is currently £26.00 per person and is science themed (complete with mini dinosaurs) in celebration of their neighbour – The Science Museum. Perhaps one for those with little monkeys (also known as children) who want to entertain and indulge?
- Chocolate lovers afternoon tea at One Aldwych. I’ve mentioned chocolate what more is there to say? Perhaps that it is popular and wasn’t free for a booking and is one of the pricier offerings at £39.00. But, chocolate and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed to boot!
- High Chai Afternoon Tea at Cinnamon Soho. This was a very close contender to be chosen as it is great value (£25.00 for two) and I love the idea of a spiced afternoon tea, it offers a twist on the normal but with a hint of luxury.
- Ma Pluckers Afternoon Tea. Is an American themed afternoon tea which is affordable (£18.00) if perhaps not the best for your arteries. Pulled pork, waffles, and a chocolate and corn flake scotch egg totally tick the unusual and quirky box though.
But I decided that the Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at the Balthazar in London was the one to choose.
Two can play that game with Bobbi Brown (yes I did just try and pun a Bobby Brown lyric)
What sold me on this particular afternoon tea was the complimentary ‘how to’ make up session (lesson?) at Bobbi Brown as well as the location (who doesn’t love Covent Garden?). We were debating taking in a matinee but a free make up session is something we wouldn’t normally do (and therefore definitely a gift to oneself!) and there are also cakes involved. What is not to love?
And it really did not disappoint. The staff (Andrew and Saskia) at Bobbi Brown Covent Garden were fabulous (despite not perhaps believing me that it was my birthday and therefore giving me a discount) and took the time to make us feel comfortable and yet also equally fabulous and fit for afternoon tea. I also liked that it was easy to book, no questions were asked, and they had the special ‘Balthazar’ how-to lesson ready and without any pressure to purchase a product after.
Balthazar were equally lovely (and fabulous (I promise to investigate more adjectives)). We had a perfect table from which to people watch the rest of the room as we were seated in one of their booths. The waiters introduced themselves and the three tiered spectacle of gorgeously presented cakes, scones and sandwiches. We had our choice of teas, more offers of hot water throughout our tea, offers of sandwiches, and anything else we could want (although I am sure some things came at a price).
Importantly we weren’t made to rush through the tea. We were able to sit and chat and thoroughly enjoy every slice. While we couldn’t quite manage all the food (a scone apiece and a sandwich did not make it past our lips) we certainly demolished the cakes (have a look at the full menu and start salivating).
At £27.50 it is middle of the range price wise (based on my research of London afternoon teas) and they did add on a 12.5% service charge. But we both felt it was worth every penny. We were completely looked after at Bobbi Brown and Balthazar and they really made it a birthday to remember. What more can you ask of a gift?