Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Stafford Hotel By Kempinski, London


A few weeks ago, the Afternoon Tea Club headed to London for a day of luxury at one the Stafford Hotel by Kempinski. Here's how we got on!

Welcome!
Environment

Caroline:
When we walked into the Stafford Hotel, I was immediately impressed by its grandeur. Light and airy, with plush velvet arm chairs as standard, the lounge where tea is served offers everything that you‘d expect from a five star hotel. I particularly liked the large floral presentations which were scattered about the room - especially the sizable bouquet which directly faced our table and offered a fantastic focal point to the room.

In fact my only criticism of the environment would be its lack of atmosphere. Now, by lack of atmosphere, I don’t mean to say that it was boring, or that it detracted from the afternoon’s enjoyment - because it didn’t. However as one of London’s quieter afternoon tea venues, I do feel that it could have benefited from a little background music to liven up the dining experience. Nevertheless it was still a very lovely room in which to enjoy tea and had many features to recommend it!


Laura:
Tucked away in the exclusive St Jame's Park corner of London, The Stafford exudes a classic London town house look with a grand kerbside  entrance complete with courteous doorman and timeless stone features that fuse the old with the new.  
Inside, the colour scheme is quite minimal with pale grey hues and creams taking over accented with dashes of lilac and dark wooden furnishings. There's a good range of seating for various party sizes and the tea room itself is rather sizeable. I particularly enjoyed admiring the subtle decoration in the hotel and like Caroline, I really liked the large floral centrepiece which somehow pulled off subtlety despite its large scale. 
I did notice however that the room itself was fairly quiet and conversation seemed to be muted amongst fellow diners. This did detract ever so slightly from the overall Afternoon Tea experience as it was difficult to get a real sense of atmosphere. However, it was a very pleasant venue for dining and I felt completely relaxed and spoiled during our stay. 



Food

Caroline
Presented prettily on a silver stand, the Stafford’s afternoon tea is one of pure decadence. Rich and everso slightly intoxicating, their food selection is perfect for those wanting a touch of luxury with at tea. The sandwich choice offers a variety of bread-types and toppings to excite even the most experienced of palates (incl. coronation chicken on brioche; Crayfish, tarragon on soda bread; Ham, English mustard on white bread; Roast Beef, horseradish, watercress on granary bread; Cucumber and cream cheese on white bread) and was a very welcome variation from the usual white fingers. My favourite by far was the Crayfish, which having never tried it before, was a taste revelation and definitely something which I’d like to see on afternoon tea menus in the future.

The cakes were again quite different to those normally on offer at other afternoon tea venues, and included a white chocolate and ginger mousse chocolate teacup; an aptly named ‘tipsy’ cake and the hotel’s signature ‘Basphorale’ dessert. All were lovely, but my favourite was the chocolate teacup which was light yet incredibly moreish and had me hankering after another. Lovely food!


Laura:
The Stafford offers their very own signature Afternoon Tea inspired by traditional British baking with its own personal brand of cleverly crafted patisseries. The Lady Lyttelton Afternoon Tea is both elegant and indulgent with petite finger sandwiches and desserts that aren’t afraid to be naughty.
To start with we had a rather fabulous selection of sandwiches. There were five fillings to choose from including: roast beef and horseradish on granary bread, cucumber with cream cheese, ham and English mustard, an exotic crayfish and tarragon on soda bread and my favourite, Coronation chicken on brioche. I’m always on the lookout for a good range of breads and complete freshness at Afternoon Tea and this one certainly ticked both boxes.

Continuing the momentum, particular praise must be given for the scones. These were some of the most perfect looking scones I have ever seen. Gorgeously smooth and evenly baked and served in a folded napkin bed to keep them fresh and warm. Fantastic!

I soon found myself tucking into The Stafford’s signature desserts; a trio of chocolate, apricot and a dash of alcohol. I was very excited by the prospect of the ‘Tipsy’ cake but I have to agree with Caroline, the chocolate filled teacup was my favourite – the perfect complement to quite a heavy dessert selection and incredibly moreish. I do think that this tea would benefit from a fruit or perhaps jelly based dessert in order to balance out the richness but overall I really enjoyed this selection. 


Service

Caroline:
During our visit we were served by two members of staff. Both were pleasant and made every effort to make sure that our visit was an enjoyable one - well done!

Laura:
The service at The Stafford was really lovely. Both members of staff who served us were very knowledgeable on the various layers of our Afternoon Tea and talked about the various tea choices with genuine enthusiasm. 
I also really liked the added bonus of being greeted by a suited and booted doorman upon arrival. It really accentuated the exclusivity of the hotel and made me feel like I had just stepped back in time! Just lovely. 



Overall Thoughts

Caroline:
The Stafford by Kempinski provides the ideal environment for relaxation and is well worth a visit if you’re looking to escape the city madness for an hour or two with a high class tea.

Laura:
I thought the food at The Stafford was really great. There was plenty of variation and enough signature bites to make it stand out in a city where you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to the famous pastime. I would like to have felt more of a sense of occasion during our afternoon but I think that this could easily be achieved with subtle music and perhaps pre-prepared table settings for taking tea. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and I would not pass on the opportunity to return for some more chocolate teacups! 

The Stafford is located in the heart of St James, London. Afternoon Tea is served between 3-6pm daily with prices starting at £28.50pp. For more information and to book please visit the hotel's website: www.kempinski.com/en/London 



DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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1 comment

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