South Kensington is home to many of London’s museums, notably the V&A and the Science Museum. If you feel hungry after a museum tour, I strongly recommend going to the Ampersand Hotel to try out their “Science Afternoon Tea”:
The Ampersand Hotel Setting ★★★★★
This gorgeous boutique hotel is only a 10-minute walk away from the museums and South Kensington tube station. The Victorian building itself is stunning and the colourful decoration is inspired by the various museums in the area, which creates a unique atmosphere.
The Drawing Rooms
Afternoon tea is served either in the Drawing Rooms or in private room for groups of 10 people or more.
The Drawing Rooms are divided into two areas, with a different set of seats and tables.
- The “salon de thé” with sofas, arms chairs and deep tables (the best tables are in the middle or by the chimney)
- The actual “drawing room”, with high chairs and tables (the best table is by the window)
Despite its chiefly British name, there is a bit of a French café atmosphere on both sides of the drawing rooms.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
The tea selection is the weakest aspect of this afternoon tea and I can easily explain why: JING tea. If you’ve read a few of my other articles (e.g. The Westin Dublin), you know how I feel about this particular brand…
Long story short, it’s average but not undrinkable either. Do stay away from green/white teas as they are brewed too hot and prefer a good Rooibos, the best “tea” on offer, instead.
The Savouries ★★★☆☆
Guests can choose between the regular non-vegetarian and the vegetarian option. I recommend the latter as the vegetarian savouries were a bit tastier, even though I’m not vegetarian.
The seafood savouries were especially disappointing, the salmon & avocado blini lacked flavour (perhaps a bit more avocado could have done the trick) and the clay fish prawn toast felt excessively “wet”. The best savoury was the “goat cheese, pumpkin and sage quiche”, which is common to both non-vegetarian and vegetarian science afternoon tea.
Even though it is nice to take a break from the usual sandwiches, this afternoon tea shines with its scones and cakes rather than its savouries.
The Scones ★★★★☆
Each guest gets one plain scone and one white chocolate scone. They are served with homemade strawberry preserve, clotted cream and several toppings (freeze dried raspberry crispy, chocolate biscuit crunch ball & honey toffee).
It’s with the toppings that the “scientific magic” happens, which will let you take a few liberties with your scones. The honey toffee cream and chocolate & raspberry crunch balls are delicious and go very well together, as shown on the picture below. Bonus point for presentation: the crunch balls are served in test tubes and the honey-toffee comes in a squeeze tube, for the delight of all wannabee chemists.
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★★
It’s a gimmick but the “science afternoon tea” uses the dry ice effect to simulate a lab-like chemical reaction, which is visible in the video below:
The cakes are delicious and beautiful to look at: “Chocolate planet mousse”, “Chocolate Spaceman”, “Sesame Macaroon” and “Lemon Fancy”.
Guests who opt for the vegetarian afternoon tea will also get a “Rose & lychee mocktail” served in a small glass beaker. Unlike all the other cakes which are made by the pastry team, this drink is concocted by the hotel’s barman. When it comes to chemistry, nothing beats the work of a specialist! It’s also another good reason to with the vegetarian option…
Do you fancy yourself as an amateur (or even professional) archaeologist? Each guest gets a wooden box which contains a fossil shaped chocolate biscuit and an almond shortbread, both buried in an earth-like cocoa powder. The biscuits are yours to discover using a brush, have fun with the treasure hunt!
The sweets are as gorgeous as they are tasty but the Chocolate Planet Mousse has my preference.
The Service ★★★★★
Tulenia, Desirée and Marco were very friendly and knowledgeable. The staff is also highly responsive via email should you have special requests (private room, dietary requirements…).
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★☆
The Ampersand hotel science afternoon tea is among my favourite afternoon teas with a theme in London, along with Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. It’s your best bet after a museum tour in Kensington, especially so if you have visited the science museum.
The scones and sweets are tasty and original. It’s a great experience for both kids and adults. The savouries and the tea quality do disappoint slightly.
It would seem the price has gone up to £37.50 (a £5 increase). While the Ampersand Science afternoon tea remains a great experience, it does lose the “great value for money” argument. Therefore, I am downgrading the overall mark to four stars.
+: The Ampersand’s proximity to museums
+: The Drawing rooms’ atmosphere
+: The scones & toppings
+: The science-themed cakes & sweets
+: (Big) kids friendly
+: The service
-: The JING tea selection
-: The non-vegetarian savouries
-: More creative than tasty
Gluten free and nut free versions are available