Friday, 22 November 2013

Charlotte in the City: Laura Ashley Hotel

A few weeks back our City Gal Charlotte Vowden headed off to Hertfordshire to sample a brand new Afternoon Tea at The Laura Ashley Hotel. Here's how she got on:

Television and tea parlours do not go well together and at The Laura Ashley Hotel you might find a newsreader joining you at the table if you don’t ask the waiter to press the off button on the adjoining bar’s plasma TV. Once electronic intrusions are eliminated though, it becomes a peaceful venue that purrs with the conversation of fellow tea takers.

With only a sprinkling of chintz, the Tudor Manor in Elstree has been renovated, decorated and furnished by Laura Ashley and is the first hotel of it’s kind. The style is tasteful throughout and most items, from the tiered chandelier that hangs from the tea parlour ceiling to the cream rose pillar candles resting on the mantelpiece, can be found in one of the catalogues placed about the property. 

The afternoon tea steers towards the traditional with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets served on Royal porcelain chinaware. The tea pot is more contemporary however, and I liken it to a shiny silver UFO.

Recited rather than presented on a menu, I struggled to remember the varieties of teas on offer so think perhaps this practice needs a rethink. Plus, I do think perusing the choices of tea is all part of the ceremony, is it not?

The sandwiches looked a little lonely on the bottom, and largest, plate of the tea stand but I’m glad an attempt wasn't made to fill all the space with more savoury slices as the portion would have been too large. The scones, warmed through to give them a nice crumble, were served with just the right amount of clotted cream and tiny pots of strawberry Tiptree jam.

Top of the tier and always top of my hit-list was a plate of scrummy sweets. With a single blueberry as its crown, a micro chocolate tart with a bubbly light mousse-filling delivered a healthy bitter after-kick. The salted caramel macaroon had the perfect crunch to chew ratio but I would have liked to have had more buttercream on the carrot cake.

As the chillier weather sets in and the Chrtistmas decorations go up, head to The Laura Ashley hotel for a cosy teatime treat.

Afternoon Tea is priced at £16.95 per person and a festive tea menu is now available. For more information please visit

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
Twitter: @charlottevowden

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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