FESTIVE AFTERNOON TEA AT THE PARK TOWER, KNIGHTSBRIDGE
If you’ve been around these parts for the last few weeks, or a follower of my Instagram/Twitter/any form of social media where I can shout from the rooftops about my gluten free eggs benedict, favourite beauty products, love of coffee and travelling the world, then you would have no doubt picked up on my New York appreciation/full on love, of late. I can’t help it, I just absolutely adore the place; the people, the parks, the vibe you get just wandering down the streets…. If people have spirit animals, then this is my spirit city.
But amidst my New York fan girl session/period of my life, it seems that little ole London has been ever so slightly neglected by me, which actually makes me really sad as there is a lot to be said about the city that I live – and have done for the last 23 years [insert grandma emoji here] – in. From the quaint side roads, the gorgeously grand parks, the fish and chips, the amazing eateries and especially at this time of year, the festive cheer… London will always have my heart.
As will two of my favourite specialities of London that I don’t think can be beaten anywhere…. Parks and Afternoon tea. And today’s post features not only both of these things, but a festive experience that will leave you so warm and fuzzy inside that you’ll kinda, possibly, most likely, never ever want to leave.
Enter the festive Afternoon Tea at The Park Tower, Knightsbridge… (also enter all the photo’s in the world of the hotel because it’s just so dreamy that I had to include at least 1085735…)
I wasn’t joking when I said I’d be using all the photo’s was I?
But seriously, The Park Tower hotel, a slightly odd looking building from the outside, is nothing but luxury inside. Stepping through the beautiful, decadent hallways to reach the Knightsbridge Lounge where the Afternoon tea takes place is an actual joy in itself. And then you enter the room itself (subsequently taking 50 bajillion photo’s for the blog – and Instagram, of course – whilst “oohing and ahhing that you’ve never seen or smelt anything so amazing and magical.
The Knightsbridge Lounge is created to mimic Hyde Park, and from the Magnolia scent spritzed throughout the room (which is definitely one of those “close your eyes and you’re in Hyde Park gardens” moments), to the silk woven into the wallpaper to mimic flower petals. The branches encircling you on every wall and the grass mats underneath your tea, champagne and cakes (coming soon, I promise) the thing that I loved most about this incredible experience is, well… exactly that. It’s not just amazing cakes and scones and finger sandwiches, it really is an experience. And one that my Mum and I definitely won’t forget in a hurry.
OK, OK, I’ve bored you all to death rambled long enough now, let’s grab some tea and cake shall we?
Whist perusing the tea menu – which is genuinely one of the most extensive lists I have ever seen – we were greeted with a beautiful glass of Brut which was the perfect start to a wonderful afternoon, before deciding on our tea. Now, I’d like to say it was because we were being classically british, but really… my Mum and I are just common english breakfast tea kinda girls so that was the order of the day.
What I loved about the Knightsbridge lounge is that it’s the type of place that is just so zen and relaxing, that chilling with your tea and champagne in between food is an actual pleasure (and believe me, I am a “can I have my food as soon as I sit down at the table, please?” kinda girl usually). But it really is just so peaceful. Between snapping away at the surroundings, sipping tea, chatting away to each other and the lovely staff – which, by the way, I’d like to take a moment to say the biggest, most heart felt thank you to Denise and Kelly who were not only the loveliest ladies, so on the ball when it came to gluten free and just generally every single item served, but actually made our experience even more of a pleasure and felt like friends by the time we left. By far the most amazing staff/customer service I’ve ever received in a restaurant. – I really was just in my happy place throughout.
Talking of happy places, time for the first course…
My Mum i.e somebody lucky enough to be able to eat all the gluten, was served with a lobster quiche. She’d never actually tried lobster before but really, really enjoyed the quiche saying that it was the perfect start to the tea (after the champagne of course).
Whilst for those who react to gluten like Kim Kardashian to no publicity days, an Italian buffalo mozzarella was served with tomatoes, salad and parmigiano. If you saw my Christmas Inspiration post you’ll know that this starter is so up my street so I more than happily chowed down on some of the best Mozzarella that I’ve ever eaten.
Then it was time for the finger sandwiches. Being a coeliac that doesn’t often buy in gluten free bread – because I’m generally out and about so much that I don’t often cook/make food for myself [insert guilty/”I know, I know I’m completely spoiled and therefore can just about manage beans on toast” emoji here] – gluten free sandwiches are a massive novelty and therefore something that makes me far too excited for words.
Mum’s sandwiches/array of the prettiest looking things I’ve ever seen, was where things started to get seriously festive. With cranberry bread and Norwich roasted bronze turkey, London cured hot smoked salmon, keta caviar on nori bread, Honey and clove roasted Christmas Ham with celeriac remoulade and free range egg mayo and cress on viennoise briochette… she said that each one was stunning. An amazing mix of flavours which complemented each other so well, her particular favourite? The Egg mayo briochette which I can only imagine tasted as amazing as it looked.
For the gluten free festive finger sandwiches – now there’s a tongue twister if I’ve ever heard one – I had the egg mayo and cress (a total classic and always a favourite of mine), Christmas ham, salmon and… and another one which was equally amazing (which might mean that I’ve forgotten what the final one was).
By this point, we were getting comfortably satisfied after our champagne, starters, sandwiches and tea which was topped up constantly by the lovely Denise, but really… we hadn’t even got started. It was time for the main course (as such), the main event, the real deal… it was time for the cake and scone stand *insert gospel choir singing “haaaaallelujah” here* [and maybe add in some hands up/”praise the lord” emoji’s here for good measure].
One thing that was immediately apparent when Denise was talking us through each item that we had was that the gluten free version wasn’t actually that dissimilar to it’s gluten filled counterpart – apart from the pastry section in the middle which of course has to be different – which for me, was so so amazing as it helps you to feel a little more… “normal”, shall we say.
For the top tier, we were presented with marshmallow, turkish delight marron glaced nougat lollipops with what reminded me of a sherbert dipping sauce. This was one of the most unique items that I’d ever seen on an Afternoon tea menu and thoroughly enjoyed it. As well as the Granny smith apple and mulled wine jelly vanilla pannacotta which was absolutely stunning, a macaron for the gluten filled version and the most delicious chocolate cup filled with chocolate mousse for myself which I genuinely could’ve eaten 5 of (to be totally honest, I could have eaten 5 of everything).
After working our way through the top layer (for me, with ease), it was time for the pastry layer or what I liked to call, the plate of dreams (because I’m a massive loser that gets far too excited over cake). This is where things got so unbelievably artistic and stunning and Instagrammable and all those phrases that basically mean, it was perfection on the eyes.
From the Swan pastry with Armagnac Chantilly – which, can we please just take a moment for? Far, far too pretty to eat (although my Mum definitely did) – to the chestnut and praline yule log. The festive whiskey cake to the clementine tart. My Mum absolutely loved each one, especially the swan (who could not love the swan?) and Yule log which she said was absolutely beautiful.
For me, a wonderful gluten free array of meringue topped with strawberries and cream (almost like an eton mess, and I love eton mess), fruit loaf, a chocolate fudge cake which was so incredibly rich and dreamy that I’ve thought about it far too much since and another extremely cute meringue cloud topped with a glacier cherry. Each piece was so delicious and so beautifully presented but the chocolate fudge of dreams deserves a really special mention.
Time for my most favourite part ever, the scones.
When the scones arrived, it was clear to see which were gluten free and which weren’t and because of this, I had – very wrongly – lowered my expectations a little. However I can genuinely say that these scones were by far the moistest, softest, most held together (such a coeliac phrase, but gluten-free(er’s) will know that most gluten free alternatives generally fall to pieces on you, which doesn’t lend for the most delicate scone eating I have to say) but these really were fantastic and actually took over from Le Meridien Piccadilly in the best gluten free scones leaderboard.
I totally have that leaderboard, no judgement here please! 😉
Once I had munched my way through the most delicious scones and had been complimented on the fact that I’d completely demolished the entire display which I have to say, at first made me feel entirely pleased and proud of myself before quickly making me feel like the world’s biggest sloth (ahhh, it’s Christmas, YOLO and all that…) It was then time to top off the afternoon in the most magical way. Just as we were packing up our things (i.e my bag containing my camera and 15 nearly identical pink lipsticks) a harpist came out to play and it honestly made me feel like we were in some kind of Christmas movie. Stunningly played, perfectly appt and overall, just a beautiful end to a beautfiul experience.
So that brings me to the end of this post. To those of you still with me, you deserve a medal (but those cakes and scones were totally worth it right? Right…) If you couldn’t already tell by my extreme rave review, my Mum and I both had the most incredibly magical time; the most delicious food, the most stunning location and the loveliest staff that somehow managed to make us feel at home amongst such grandeur. I simply couldn’t recommend the Festive afternoon tea at the Park Tower, Knightsbridge enough. The festive tea ends on December 31st so if this is something you fancy trying out – you’d be crazy not to – make sure to get down there before the end of the year 🙂
I would love to know where your favourite ever Afternoon tea location is? Have you ever been to the Park Tower, Knightsbridge? I would love to hear your thoughts.
As always, thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post!