We love afternoon tea (but you probably knew that already) so when the IC Westminster got in touch inviting us down to review their latest tea, we jumped at the chance. Here's how we got on:
The IC Westminster is nothing short of elegant, with shining glass chandeliers, lofty floral displays and towering cake stands combining to create an eye catching afternoon tea venue with all the frills. Background music on the harp brings the party to life, whilst crisp white table cloths and silver tea service set in the hotel's traditional aspects. A lovely bright place to spend the afternoon.
Tall tea stands, live harpist and champagne that keeps on flowing - this is what Afternoon Tea should look like. Lucky for us, IC Westminster ticked all of these boxes and many more.
It's very much a hotel from the outside and once in the lounge, the hotel feel continues, yet is brought to life with gorgeous interiors that show this venue is most certainly a tea room in its own right and not just a hotel lounge.
There's a good variety of seating for large groups and tea for two with comfortable modern grey lounge seating accompanied by crisp white tablecloths.
There's a really lively atmosphere at IC Westminster and I admire venues that can make such a quaint activity feel fresh and inviting. The music blends perfectly with the setting and the light tones that feature throughout the lounge really lift the mood.
What I loved most about afternoon tea at the IC Westminster was its fantastic presentation. Not only did we get a 'mile high' stand of goodies, but also later received a separate plate of warm scones (plus the offer of unlimited sandwiches - win!)
"But if the scones came later, what was on the second tier?" Well that was something quite special. As proud northern girls, we love nothing more than a nice Yorkshire tea loaf and Eccles cake and that's exactly what we got. Now, it might seem a little odd to have such distinctly northern fare in this southern setting, but when contrasted with the stand's cosmopolitan patisserie, the rough and ready second tier offered an enjoyable alternative.
This was by far my favourite tea display. Arranged on full length silver tea stands that stood tall next to our table, it was a very impressive - I won't lie, I have been waiting for a tea like this!
To start there was a great range of sandwiches and typical afternoon tea fillings were given a refreshing twist with some interesting bread choices. We had; Scottish smoked salmon on rye, ham on red pepper, cucumber on pumpkin seed and beef and horseradish on caramelised onion bread. I must say the ham was my favourite on this occasion, simply for the unusual bread which added quite a sweet element to the sandwich. And just to make this wonderful selection even better, guests are invited to indulge in another plate should they wish.
However, at the risk of being too full for cake (and let's be honest, is there anything more disappointing than that?) we moved straight on to the scones. Tucked away in a folded warm napkin, our scones were gorgeously fresh and just the right size too.
Of course, dessert is pretty high up on our agenda and we were very excited by the noticeably pink theme going on in our mini patisseries. We had; raspberry and white chocolate macaroon, raspberry and white chocolate tea cake, fruity Pimms jelly, a mini chocolate and cherry sponge and and an apricot sponge. I loved the range of colours and dessert types. Whilst there was a lot of chocolate, there was also a good measure of fruity tones to balance it out. My fave was the tea cake but I also loved the Pimms jelly - but be warned, it's very 'Pimms'y!
Of course, all good Afternoon Tea menus need a great choice of teas and IC Westminster has a selection to be envied. I chose whole rosebud tea. It had a lovely vintage perfume which I found particularly relaxing - yet the taste was still very refreshing. This was kept topped up nicely throughout.
Service with a smile is always key when taking afternoon tea, so I was pleased to see that the IC Westminster didn't disappoint. Everyone was very helpful and efficient, making us feel very much at home.
The staff here were absolutely faultless and could not do enough for us. Perhaps the tea room is a little overstaffed as we found ourselves being approached by numerous members of staff asking often asking the same questions as the last. However, all were very friendly and helpful with fantastic, professional tea service - particularly when pouring the champagne!
Everything at the IC Westminster was perfect and I wouldn't hesitate to return. If you're a northerner looking for a taste of home in the big smoke then this is definitely for you!
I would return to IC Westminster in a heartbeat. The food is fantastic and the environment is ideal for taking time out for tea. It becomes more and more apparent, the more places we visit, just how important creating an atmosphere is. IC Westminster has got it completely covered with a balance of welcoming staff, great music and a take on tea that's both contemporary yet classic.
For more information, please visit the IC Westminster's website at: http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/london/lonwm/hoteldetail
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.