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The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane
The stunning pillared Promenade is the first thing visitors see when they enter The Dorchester, and the magnificent green and gold room is quite a sight with its gilt mouldings, marble columns,
chandeliers and rich rugs strewn over marble floors. Service from impeccable tail-coated staff is as smooth as it comes and a pianist serenades the crowds as they recline on tufted divans and indulge themselves. Afternoon tea is the main event and it’s worth kicking off in style with a glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé, before waves of goodies start to arrive: plates of crust-free
sandwiches, then warm scones with jam and clotted cream, other sweet distractions and finally a whole tray of French pastries, cakes and tarts to sample. Breakfast, lunch and supper bring
in the punters, and the Promenade also boasts a rather good, oval leather bar – if something stronger than tea is required.
Best afternoon tea in London
The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane
020 7629 8888
Hyde Park Corner Tube Station 633m
Green Park Tube Station 692m
The Dorchester Hotel 25m
Curzon Mayfair Cinema 296m
Mon-Sat 7am-12.15am (Sat 7.30am- ) Sun 7.30am-11.45pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
I’m not normally one to write rambling, complaining reviews but the conduct of staff at the Promenade was so poor it was almost comical. I implore you to go elsewhere.
We arrived at 5.20pm for our 5.30pm booking and after speaking to the lady on the front desk were happy to wait as we were early. However, at 5.35pm we still hadn’t been seated or told there would be a delay. A lady then arrived at the front desk and also said she had at 5.30pm booking. She was told, politely, that there would be some delay as other guests were overrunning on time. The guest immediately got annoyed and said that wasn’t good enough and upon complaining was seated immediately – which seemed a) strange because they’d just said there would be a delay and b) quite unfair given that we’d been there first. I left it until 5.40pm before asking when we’d be seated. Bizarrely we were then seated immediately although not before ‘we’re only 7 minutes late seating you’. Thanks for correcting me! Even more bizarrely when we sat down we noticed 4 or 5 tables made up and ready but empty. Although that was explained by what happened next.
As we were looking over the menu one of the waiters directly behind us started quite loudly chastising one of the front of house ladies for seating someone in his area. He proceeded to tell her he’d done ‘40 tables without a break’ and was livid about this. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing to be honest. I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve seen staff behaving like that. Unfortunately he turned out to be our waiter which was frankly a bit uncomfortable especially as, polite as he was when serving us, I saw him huffing and puffing about other things during our time there.
It almost feels pointless commenting on the food but the sad thing is that the food is really good. The sandwiches were delicious and I really enjoyed the sweets. It’s very chocolate focused which might not be to everyone’s liking but I loved it.
That aside, nothing could really detract from the dreadful atmosphere and service. I’m sure people and places have ‘off days’ but everything about the service from start to finish was awful. If staff think it’s acceptable to keep people waiting without explanation, allow others to be seated before you and argue in front of you, more than once, there’s got to be an inherent issue.
I’ve been lucky enough to have afternoon tea at a few traditional places and would instead recommend the Ritz or the Wolseley (surprising quite cheap).
Food + drink: 3
With the recent passing of a parent coinciding seemingly with all other things personal crashing into oblivion, it was nearly 10pm on a Saturday evening that my oldest and best friend chose the Promenade as the venue from which to initiate the resurrection of my sanity. Yes, many had said when it rains it pours, but this concurrence of personal events was completely off the scale for me, and so when we arrived at the Dorchester that evening, all manner of frills and niceties were gratefully received.
And so we were asked if we had booked and though we had not, were seated comfortably in one of the lush sofas which adorn many corners and niches of what really is a long promenade leading from the entrance lobby all the way to the back of the hotel. I had not been for at least a year or so, but recent renovations have come together quite well in that there is a rich lush ambience primarily due to the curtains, tapestry and central candelabra-like lighting, as well as large warm orange hue mirrors all the way along the room.
We were served by a courteous Italian waitress who took our orders for a light dinner, myself just a mushroom truffle soup and my friend a club sandwich. The soup was good though the club sandwich could have been crisper or more inspired. Music is live and really quite nice if that is how one could describe it. By that I mean that the relaxing mix of jazz and bossa nova resonated at the right volume throughout the evening, gently but surely reminding me of what its like back home in Asia, where music of this ilk is often played in the lounges, often by the sea. On this occasion given my situation, it was of course very nostalgic and even somewhat sad for me.
The clientele are extremely international, and so much so there were few that I could identify as purely English, though many were from the Continent, the US, from the Middle East and from Asia. Its well patronised in any case, and for most of the evening its a warm busy ambience, which certainly did its best to uplift me from what has been a very deep low.
All in all it is of course rather pricey but for what it is one would not expect any less. I will return for sure and hopefully in much less heavy a mood than was upon me that day.
The perfect London experience to me is afternoon tea at one of the lovely hotels in town. I decided to try out The Dorchester because the reviews all seemed very good plus id already been trying to work my way down the Squaremeal guide to Afternoon Teas… I was really pleased to be proved right and it now comes highly recommended!
Distinctly opulent inside, fantastic service, lovely cakes/sandwiches – chicken and basil was the best but there was also smoked salmon, cream cheese and egg and cress (all refilled as many times as you like) – all for the price of £35 a head (£45 if you want the champagne option). Not too cheap but not too pricey either. This was on par with the Ritz and far far better than the Landmark (just so so) and the Berkley (all pretty but no real substance) and (so my friend says) Fortnum and Mason (too noisy and so so food)
What swung it for me was the service – i was half expecting condescending staff given that we were clad in high street attire and did not drive up in a bright yellow Lamborgini however the staff were incredibly polite and friendly and made us feel very welcome. We did get the bill around 2.45pm (15 min before our time was up) but then they had told us this on booking, plus there really is limited seating given all seats are on comfy chairs/sofas. Everyone looked to be enjoying themselves thoroughly and you get to take it home in a lovely box if you cant finish any of the scones or the pretty cakes.
I really recommend this for a special, indulgent afternoon – or like me, just catching up with a friend but doing it the decadent way. How the other half seem to live – im off to get my yellow Lamborgini…
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