*In collaboration with Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
When: 3rd of April 2022
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London – The Rosebery
Price: 63 GBP / person
It’s been a long time since I last wrote anything on this blog, because travel has been a bit difficult (*cough, cough), but fortunately now is the time to break this long hiatus and get back to business. I booked an extempore-vacation to London for me and my wife and chose the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park as our base of operations, because I really wanted to pamper us. The actual hotel review will come later, but I wanted to start with our Afternoon Tea -experience, because Easter is right around the corner and the theme of the pastries is currently perfect for this time of year. At this point I’d like to point out that Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park was kind enough to offer the whole Afternoon Tea as complimentary, but as any of my previous readers will know, I always write about my honest opinions. But without further ado, let’s get cracking.
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London is situated in the area of Knightsbridge, on the southside of Hyde Park and just a few minutes from the world famous Harrod’s department store. The Afternoon Tea is served in The Rosebery, which is an opulent space with high ceilings and lots of light. In my opinion we were given one of the best tables at the far end of the room from a quiet corner, where we had enough privacy, but also a good view of everything.
I want to begin with the service, which was extremely professional, kind and warm. I believe the level of customer service in any establishment is pretty much the most important thing, because it can make or break a hotel, restaurant or any business. The person who was in charge of us for most of the duration of our afternoon tea (we spent over three hours on it) was Patrick, who made sure our plates were never empty and our cups were always full.
You know the feeling, when you want to order something, so you try your best to get your waiter’s attention, but sometimes it can take ages? Well, you get none of that here. Everyone is so attentive that at times you don’t even need to think about getting another cup of tea before it’s already being poured. This is not overbearing, though, so we always felt like we had our own private little nook all to ourselves.
Also the nice touches like the warm oshibori (small towel) that was brought to the table in the beginning, showed they understand how true hospitality works.
As much as you want
Before I get into the actual foods and drinks that were on offer, I believe it’s important to mention something. We are afternoon tea -aficionados. We absolutely love them, which is why everytime we can, we want to experience them in any city we travel to. We’ve had them in the paradise island of Okinawa, over the skyscrapers of Tokyo, the five star hotels of Berlin and even in our hometown of Helsinki.
So far it’s been possible to get as much tea as you want, some places offer all the scones you can eat and some even give you extra sandwiches if asked, but Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park was the first one to say that everything you eat, you can eat as much as you want, in addition to the unlimited tea. This fact makes the quality-price ratio of the experience even better. But be warned, if you fill up on sandwiches and scones, you might not be able to eat all of the delicious pastries on offer (quilty).
We have some dietary restrictions, so it can pose challenges when choosing a place to dine. Thankfully Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park takes all of these into account beautifully (I still recommend informing the restaurant beforehand), so you can relax and enjoy your afternoon tea properly. My wife had the vegetarian version and I had my own specific requests regarding allergies. Some places make poor substitutes of the foods that have to be altered, which sucks, because you are still paying the same amount. Here however everything felt, tasted and looked as good as the “original version” even though they had to be tweaked a little bit.
When it comes to Instagram-friendly restaurants, I usually don’t like them, because at some point they just start being the place where you need to be seen and where you need to take photos, but the actual contents of the food aren’t up to par. I have to admit that some of the pastries were very photogenic, like the flower pot with little carrots or the delicious egg-shaped pastry, but the taste was never an afterthought. Everything, and I do mean everything, was delicious!
As some of my pastries had to be altered because of allergies, I cannot be sure how close they are to the ones usually on offer, but my personal favourites were the Easter Egg and the small banana cake. Yum! Also the scones and sandwiches were delectable. The sandwiches were so good I had to order another batch, which was one of the most delicious mistakes I’ve made, because I had to take half of the pastries to go as I just couldn’t eat another bite at the end. Well, I got a nice little evening snack to take to the room with me.
My wife had the vegetarian menu (the pastries can be seen in the picture above), which was excellent. She says she can’t remember the last time she had such delicious sandwiches or pastries. Also the quality of the scones is of the utmost importance to her, because it is the true measure of any proper afternoon tea. I’m glad to report that we both agreed that the scones of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park are at least in the Top 3 or maybe even on the first spot of scones we’ve tried around the world.
The food isn’t served on the traditional “tower”. Instead here they use a kind of a branch, where the scones are laid out. My wife also especially loved the tea set, which was stylish, beautiful and very fitting to the actual space where the afternoon tea is served.
From my perspective I have to admit the prices in London can be a bit steep everywhere you go. A glass of champagne can easily be twice the amount of the prices in Helsinki even though it’s an expensive city as well. So I was glad to notice that if you want to have a glass of champagne (and who wouldn’t?) with your afternoon tea, the first glass is cheaper, starting at 16 GBP for a proper Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. Or why not go all-in and get a glass of heavenly Krug for 48 GBP? After the first glass the prices go up a bit, but I appreciate the fact that the first one is more wallet friendly. And sometimes one glass is all you need, right? Yeah, maybe just one glass… at a time.
Also one thing that is easy to get wrong even in the best places is the tea. For those of you who don’t know, you can really screw up a cup of tea easily, if you don’t know what you’re doing. However Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has its own tea sommelier, who is in charge of making sure that each tea, be it black, white or green, is brewed to perfection – and it really shows. After we complemented the tea to Patrick, he told us about their tea sommelier and we got a chance to talk with her briefly. She was excited about the fact that someone took notice of the quality and was very passionate about her profession. So you can be sure you’re not getting green tea boiled to a 100 C, when you come here.
If you want to shake things up a bit and experience something different, you can also pair your afternoon tea with beer, Grand Cru -wines or even sake.
The Afternoon Tea -experience at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park’s The Rosebery was one of the best, or maybe even THE best, I’ve had so far, so I have no issues recommending it to anyone who values good food, ambience, service and especially afternoon teas.
Hopefully this blog post gave you a good idea of what to expect when you come here. If this helped you in any way, I’d love to hear it in the comment section! So thank you for reading and thank you to the whole team at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for making this an experience to remember.