The One Aldwych serves one of London’s most popular afternoon teas, the “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea”. It truly lives up to the theme, the beverages, the food and the service are all beyond reproach. As of 2022, it’s one of the best afternoon teas in London for (big) kids:
March 2022 update: Full article overhaul to reflect the many changes since 2016.
The One Aldwych Hotel Setting ★★★★★
Located between Covent Garden and The Somerset house, the One Aldwych is a splendid establishment. As one of London’s most fashionable boutique hotels, the decoration is modern with a strong emphasis on art, with several sculptures and paintings on display.
The Charlie afternoon tea is served in the Eneko restaurant, on the underground level. The basement level can be accessed through a separate door but not via the hotel lobby. The entrance itself is beautifully decorated with flowers, faux presents and a chocolate fountain.
NB: The One Aldwych traditional afternoon tea is served in the Indigo restaurant on weekends, but I haven’t reviewed it as I wanted to focus on the chocolate-themed afternoon tea.
While the Eneko Basque kitchen & bar is closed, the restaurant is fully dedicated to the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea. The interior decoration is extremely pleasing, it’s laden with flowers and nods to Willy Wonka’s creations.
Due to the family-friendliness of the afternoon tea, the venue can get a bit noisy but it wasn’t a bother as the restaurant seems to absorb the noise fairly well. Still, some of the tables which are against the wall will make you feel a tad too close to your neighbours: consider yourself warned if you like to have your personal space.
Click here to see the 2016 pictures, back when the afternoon tea was served in the Lobby and the Indigo restaurant:
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★★
The Chocolate & Classic Teas ★★★★☆
The One Aldwych team has selected five different teas to suit Roald Dahl’s Charlie & The Chocolate Factory theme:
- CHOCOLATE NOIR: A velvety smooth tea with decadent, dark chocolate notes – This blend is made from Assam and Yunnan black, a bitter chocolaty flavour with barely perceptible hints of vanilla. Some of you might want to add a bit of sugar to soften it ♥
- CARAMEL NOIR: A decadent blend of a deep rich black tea scented with soft, sweet caramel
- LEMON VERBENA: Elegant, pale green leaves, bursting with playful notes of lemon sherbet
- BERRIES & HIBISCUS: An entirely natural, caffeine-free infusion of juicy hedgerow berries and snozzberries, hibiscus and liquorice
- LYCHEE & ROSE: A scarlet explosion of intense forest fruits
I prefer raw teas (no added flavours) so these don’t really suit me. Still, I must admit that they are a good match for this afternoon tea; it is also possible to order off-menu classic teas such as Earl Grey, English breakfast, Morrocan Mint, Jasmine, etc… (see drinks menu)
The Cocktails ★★★★★
For the big kids that have reached the drinking age, the cocktails are well worth a try:
- STRAWBERRY JUICE WATER PISTOL PUNCH: Vodka, strawberry purée, sweet vermouth, Aperol, Electric Bitters and lemonade
- THE JUICING ROOM MIX: Gin, pink grapefruit juice, elderflower liqueur, passion fruit, apricot liqueur and soda
- THE CHOCOLATIER: Whisky, cherry liqueur, grapefruit juice, cherry purée, chocolate bitters topped with Champagne
They are as tasty as they are delightfully designed, though I confess I have a weakness for anything involving dry ice 😉
It’s possible to order non-alcoholic versions as well, should you wish to go with the mocktail option.
Included with the £65 afternoon tea, off-menu Cocktail price: £17, Mocktail price: £11
Click here to see the 2016 tea & cocktails:
The Savouries ★★★★★
I did not expect the savouries to be as good as the sweets but I stand corrected, these are among the best savouries I ever had:
- Coronation chicken Sarnie
- Salmon and dill Quiche with saffron mayo ♥
- Egg mayonnaise and watercress Sarnie
- Spinach Soly-poly topped with onion caviar ♥♥
- “not quite as it seems” Beetroot Macaron = very sweet but it’s a Macaron after all 😉
Click here to see the 2016 savouries:
The Scones and Cakes ★★★★★
Let’s get started with the mildly sweet before going onto the very sweet: the scones, which are perfectly baked and served warm.
The toppings are equally scrummy: Vanilla-pineapple “snozzberry jam” and Philly cheese ♥, on top of the obligatory Clotted cream.
Click here to see the 2016 scones:
The Sweets ★★★★☆
Well calling this part of the tea “sweet” is putting it mildly, this is a dentist’s nightmare. Then again if it wasn’t, the “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea” wouldn’t be worthy of the name!
- Chocolate ‘nutty crunch surprise’ Lollypop ♥
- Violet marshmallow
- ‘Blue as a blueberry’ cake pop ♥
- Rhubarb Panna-cotta with ‘what do you mean it’s tomato’ compote
- Caramel chocolate milkshake (mixed by waterfall)
- Fabulous fluffy floss (strictly not for dentists!)
While this is highly subjective, I would say that this afternoon tea shines with its beverages as well as with its savouries and scones. The sweets are great and look amazing, but they do not taste as good.
Click here to see the 2016 cakes & sweets:
The Service ★★★★★
The service is brilliant, the popularity of The One Aldwych Charlie & The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea means that the hotel is packed on weekends, and yet the staff was always friendly and efficient. Below is a video detailing the contents of the afternoon tea though I’m afraid the sound is muffled by the background noise:
We never had to wait very long for our tea refills and the staff was very accommodating despite one of the guest’s tardiness. Back in 2016, when the staff needed a table at The Indigo restaurant and since we were not done eating, the team very kindly relocated us to a private room so we could finish anyway. I didn’t feel pressured to leave in 2022 either, even though it was a very busy Sunday!
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Charlie & The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea at the One Aldwych London is the best “unusual” afternoon tea in the city. The food and beverage selection is amazing and the service is perfect.
In most aspects, it puts other chocolate afternoon teas (such as “The Charlie & The Chesterfield afternoon tea“) to shame.
+: Beautiful Charlie-themed decoration
+: Original tea selection (Chocolate Noir!)
+: The Charlie Cocktails, heavenly
+: Delicious food & great presentation
+: The Best service, friendly and efficient
-: The restaurant is not the best venue and it can get noisy
-: The sweets may be “too sweet” for some
-: Book well in advance on weekends
Phone number: 020 7300 0400