The Rosewood London’s sister hotel in Paris, Hôtel de Crillon, serves one of the best afternoon teas I have ever had. I am aware that quality may be unequal between hotels of the same brand and yet I still had very high hopes when I went to review the Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea. It was voted the best contemporary afternoon tea in the UK in 2017 so let’s see if it’s worthy of such a prestigious award:
The Rosewood London Setting ★★★★★
The hotel sits in an Edwardian mansion, a few steps away from Holborn tube station and close to Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House. Guests enter the hotel via an archway which leads to the inner courtyard. Each of the four blocks that make up the Rosewood London was built separately between 1912 and 1960, involving several designers and architects over the years. The building housed the Pearl insurance company until 1989.
The hotel opened up in 2000 and was operated by Marriott under its Renaissance brand until 2011. It is now under the management of the eponymous Rosewood group, a Dallas/Hong-Kong based operator of luxury hotels and resorts.
The Rosewood London is magnificent. Whether you arrive on foot or by car, there is something unique about entering a hotel via an archway that opens into a grand Edwardian courtyard. The interior is equally stunning so I strongly encourage you to take a walk around the hotel. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet Pearl, the resident dog of the Rosewood London.
Leaving the hotel is equally special: a bonfire is lit up at dawn and the building’s outer façade looks even better at night.
The Mirror Room ★★★★★
Afternoon tea is served in the Mirror Room. The lounge is rather big but also feels intimate. It’s laden with floor to ceiling decorative mirrors and many lights. Guest may sit on chairs or on sofas depending on their preference and on the group’s size.
Ruinart Champagne is the honoured guest of the Rosewood London until November 25th. Several works or art are exhibited throughout the hotel and are bound to please both art and Champagne aficionados.
There is an arch made of bottles of champagne standing right in the middle of the lounge and opposite a gigantic flower bouquet. French artist Hubert Le Gall has designed three glass sculptures for Ruinart, each represents a different stage of the grape growth in the first 3 months of the harvest.
You may admire them in the pictures below but I strongly encourage you to go before November 25th to see them with your own eyes!
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★★
I must admit that I had my doubts when I saw that the Rosewood London’s tea supplier was JING teas but I was also pleasantly surprised: the teas are brewed very well and the overall quality is excellent. They even have a yellow tea on offer, which is very unusual and highly appreciated.
The staff told me that they were in the process of replacing JING with a more premium supplier so I expect this tea selection will get even better very soon. The Mirror room team is very knowledgeable about their teas so you can trust them to recommend a proper tea for each stage of the Art Afternoon Tea. If you don’t mind a strong bitter taste, I strongly encourage you to try out the Matcha!
Guests may also enjoy a glass of Ruinart Champagne for an extra £10-15 or a Champagne cocktail for £17 (detailed tea, cocktails & champagne menu).
2018 update: Now Mariage Frères teas.
Choice of JING teas: 17 (black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh, yellow and infusions); loose-leaf
Brewing method: Brewed in the kitchen or at the table (tea leaves left in the teapot)
The Savouries ★★★★☆
I’ll be honest: the perfect score I give to the savouries is an assumption, as the sandwiches I had are different from the ones currently on offer. I did not get to taste the sandwiches of the new selection listed below:
- Maldon smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon
- Le Madru ham, Comté and wholegrain mustard
- Coronation chicken, curry and sultanas
- Avocado, tomatoes and basil
- Egg mayonnaise and chives
The sandwiches that were served when I had the art afternoon tea (beef, smoked chicken, shrimp, salmon…) were heavenly and I’m going to assume that the new selection is just as good, if not even better. I almost feel like I should come back to the Rosewood London just to try them out!
I’m normally a very tough customer when it comes to sandwiches and I tend to favour afternoon teas that dare to innovate with their savouries… While these may somehow appear to be “ordinary” finger sandwiches, they are excellent. The bread itself and the contents are both original and delicious.
The Palate Cleanser & Scones ★★★★★
The Rosewood London Art Afternoon Tea may not serve any amuse-bouche but they have something even better: a palate cleanser to help with the transition between the savouries and the sweets. The palate cleanser feels almost like a frozen sorbet and is made from raspberry, yuzu granita and peach compote. It’s not only delicious, it serves its purpose perfectly and will have you craving for the next stage of the afternoon tea.
Each guest is then served with one plain and one raisin scone along with three toppings: strawberry & elderflower jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. Since the sweets are brought on request once the guests are done with the savouries, the scones will be served warm. I recommend eating them as soon as the three-tier stand is brought to the table, unless you’re afraid they’ll impair your appetite or just very keen on starting with the art-inspired cakes.
The scones themselves are delicious and the homemade jam is especially praiseworthy: the combination of strawberry and elderflower works wonders.
The Cakes & Sweets★★★★★
Here come the stars of the Rosewood London afternoon tea: the art-inspired sweets. Each cake is designed after a specific artist, for the delight of foodies, art lovers or both:
- Chocolate cube filled with vanilla cream choux, salted caramel and chocolate crémeux; inspired by the “Girl with the balloon” from Banksy (UK) ♥♥
- Whipped Jivara chocolate cream, mandarin jelly, praline feuilletine and a tart shell topped with Jivara ganache and chocolate decorations; inspired by the abstract works of Wassily Kandinsky (Russia)
- Green apple Bavarois, lime mousse, puff rice chocolate disc topped with an ivoire glaze and chocolate mobile with chocolate pearls; designed with the help of Hubert Le Gall (France) as a fourth symbol of the Ruinart vineyards ♥
- Chestnut cream, cassis jelly, almond sponge, topped with white chocolate and a glazed sphere; inspired by the famous “Glazing Ball” from Jeff Koons (US)
- Cherry brownie, vanilla cream, macaron, cherry insert, and flick art chocolate; inspired by the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock (US)
This isn’t the first time I’m having an art-themed afternoon tea: the very first article I wrote was a review of the Merrion Dublin Art Tea and I recently reviewed the Lancaster London ARTea, among a few others. Both of these venues had done an excellent job, combining excellence in appearance and in taste.
Mark Perkins (the Rosewood London pastry chef) and his team can be very proud: they have surpassed every art-themed cake I have ever tasted. I have a slight preference for the green apple bavarois: the taste is subtle and just sweet enough.
Do note that all these cakes are quite sweet, especially Banksy’s chocolate cube, which happens to be my favourite overall. To be fair, it may also be because I love this artist.
The Mirror Room staff is polite, efficient and very knowledgeable about every aspect of this afternoon tea, be it the food, the beverages or even the Ruinart exhibit. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or enquire about the various artists that inspired this afternoon tea.
Special thanks to Anna and Shane who were both brilliant waiters and made my afternoon even better!
Bookings require a credit card and that guests will be charged the full price of the afternoon tea (£50/person) should they fail to cancel earlier than 24 hours prior to the reservation.
Below is a video detailing the contents of the Rosewood London Art Afternoon Tea (with the exception of the savouries):
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Rosewood London Art Afternoon Tea is flawless: the setting is grandiose, the tea selection is excellent and the food is as gorgoeus as it is delicious. Whether you’re a foodie, an art enthusiast or simply wish to try one of London’s finest afternoon teas, you will leave the Mirror Room with a strong feeling of satisfaction.
Priced at £60 per person (2018 update), it’s also brilliant value for money with or without a glass Ruinart Champagne. It’s among London’s best afternoon teas in this segment, along with the Mandarin Oriental and the Dorchester. Once the tea selection has been revamped and if the improvements are significant enough, it will be worthy of a Golden Teapot!
+: Beautiful hotel
+: The Mirror Room
+: The beverage selection
+: Delicious food
+: Gorgeous art-inspired cakes
+: A must-go for art lovers
+: Brilliant value for money
+: Great service
-: Still a bit of room for improvement with the teas
-: Restrictive booking policy (credit card)
Phone: +44 20 3747 8620