Wednesday 27 November 2013

WIN a Kenwood KM330 Mixer

Ever fancied making your own afternoon tea but didn't know where to start? Well fear not because we've teamed up with the good folk at Argos to lend a helping hand, offering you the chance to win a Kenwood KM330 mixer.

Perfect for all your baking needs, the KM330 is ideal for every day use, with a chef size whisk, dough hook and K-beater to make creating those afternoon treats an absolute delight.

Sound good? Read on...

To enter simply answer this question:

If you owned a tea room, what would your signature bake be?

Please send your mouthwatering answers, name and address to:

Closing date - Midnight Sunday 15th December 2013

Good Luck!

Terms and Conditions: Open to UK residents only. Only one entry per person. Competition will close at midnight on 15/12/2013. The winner will be chosen and announced on 16/12/2013. The Afternoon Tea Club's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. There will be no cash alternative. Winner will be notified via email. By entering the competition the winner agrees to participate in such promotional activity on our website and Twitter. No responsibility can be taken for any entries which are not received for any reason. The Afternoon Tea Club operates as a separate entity to

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: IC Westminster, London

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! 

Overall Thoughts

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:

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.

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. 

Thursday 21 November 2013

Winter Warmers #1: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's that time of year again! Bring on the winter woolies, cosy coats and of course seasonal menus at our favourite high street coffee houses. With so many to choose from this year, we thought we would make things easy for you by giving them all a test run to see which blends get the ATC seal of approval. Oh we are good to you! 

First on our hit list was Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. This autumnal treat has been around for some time now and is so popular it's racked up nearly 30,000 tweets since 2012 featuring its very own hashtag #pumpkinspice - impressive!

So to see what all of the fuss was about we headed to our favourite Starbucks shop and ordered ourselves a couple of these pumpkin themed delights. 

The latte is extremely frothy when taken with cream, so be careful not to spill - I think this was partly our fault due to spending so long taking photos!

The drink itself is really yummy. The pumpkin flavour is quite subtle but you can feel the spicy notes which warmed us up just nicely on what was a particularly cold Manchester evening. 

There's nutmeg and cinnamon in there too and for those of you with a sweet tooth the added cream will do just the trick, adding a sugary finish.

We can see why the drink has so many fans and would definitely recommend as a classic winter warmer this Christmas. 

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is available at Starbucks throughout Autumn for around £2.50. 


Saturday 2 November 2013

Planning For the Future: The Afternoon Tea Club Gets Organised

Beautiful Original Patent Organiser  c/o Filofax

If you follow ATC on twitter (Ahem @TeacupReview) then you might've noticed us talking about all the exciting things we've got coming up over the next few months. Well, we thought it high time to let you in on the secret and reveal a bit of what's ahead for the Afternoon Tea Club. 

Over the last couple of months we've made a conscious effort to get organised and plan for the future, filling up our beautiful new Filofaxes with lots of lovely content ideas, and although we're biased we think you're really gonna love what's coming up.

Getting Organised


In November you can look forward to round-ups from IC Westminster and Betty's York - we really enjoyed our visits to both of these lovely tea rooms and can't wait to share our pics with you. In addition to this we'll also be relaunching our 'Coffee Break' feature, giving you a sneaky peek at our daily coffee shop experiences from both high street chains and smaller independent venues. Not forgetting our lovely City Girl Charlotte, we'll also be posting lots more of her reviews from the big smoke, including a very special round-up from the new Laura Ashley hotel and a wintery Christmas special.


Who doesn't love a good competition? We've teamed up with two fabulous companies to give you the chance to win some amazing goodies. We won't say too much just now, but they're two of our biggest giveaways to date and we can't wait to get you involved. Lets just say if you like free tea and cake, then you'll want to check back here over the coming months.

Needless to say our Filofaxes are full and we love it!

What would you like to see us do on the blog? Comment below with your recommendations or get in touch with us on twitter at @TeacupReview!
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