Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Easter, Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea & The Secret Service

Fluid London journalist, By Claire Roberts, takes a peak around The Royal Horseguards Hotel in Central London.

An insider tip for all tea and cake lovers in the Embankment area; be clever and avoid walking up towards The Strand. Instead veer left for five minutes along the river to the Royal Horseguards Hotel at 2 Whitehall Court. Nestled in between the safety of the Ministry of Defence on one side and Scotland Yard on the other, this delicious piece of London history, once HQ to the Secret Service during WWI, now takes the form of an award winning and recently refurbished five star hotel.

As well as providing sumptuous rooms, the hotel staff clearly see the value of a good cake to add a touch of pleasure to political proceedings and being a member of the Tea Guild, as well as a winner in their Top London Afternoon Tea awards in 2012, the value of a decent cup of tea too. The hotel introduced their increasingly popular afternoon teas three years ago and I go along to try their Easter 2013 Mad Hatters afternoon tea.

No hats are needed as they’re provided in the form of hat cakes with cappuccino flavoured white chocolate cups sitting neatly on top. The hotel’s brilliant patissieres have made some crumbly biscuit jam tarts, with hearts and white rabbit coconut cakes, and perky flaked almond ears, all waiting to be devoured. I could have tea but I have champagne instead. I like a bit of fizz and it goes brilliantly with the cakes.

We leave the cakes and the cellar bar for a nosy look around the hotel. Despite its looming Victorian presence, the hotel  has a very  detectable warmth and club-like intimacy. I swear I can hear the hushed conversations of old residents, many of which peer down at me from their portraits lining the staircases and corridors Harry Potter style.

The library is gothically enticing, the large outside terrace overlooking the Thames is perfect for afternoon tea when the weather is warm and for something more substantial, the hotel’s restaurant, One Twenty One Two, has been awarded two AA rosettes.

Back in the cellar bar, I eat the mini sandwiches but avoid the ‘Eat me’ passion fizz cake or the ‘Drink me’ fruit shot in its innocent looking glass dome. They looked delicious but being a fantasist, I decide not to indulge. Who knows? I might shrink or become a giant. Alice in Wonderland plus ex-Secret Service: I’m not risking it. One small comfort; this warren like hotel with its vast stairwells, rooms, nooks, crannies and secret tunnels provides the perfect escape route for any Alice in Wonderland misadventure. Don’t know how to get out? Ask the staff; they’re brilliantly charming and delightful, as was the Afternoon Tea.

To book the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea, use the reservation calendar below.


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