The Fairmont Savoy London afternoon tea is among the most reputable hotels in London, along with the Claridge’s (its former sister hotel) and The Ritz. Let’s see how the afternoon tea lives up to the hype:
The Setting ★★★★★
The building sits on the City of Westminster Strand, on the site of the former Savoy Palace (residence of the House of Savoy). Opened in 1889 under the supervision of impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte, the Savoy London was the first luxury hotel in England as well as its first building to be entirely lit with electric lights. Due to its history and proximity to the Savoy Theatre, the hotel is still closely associated with the world of arts, both performance arts and others.
The hotel quickly became a big hit, attracting many rich and fashionable customers. Though business slowed down at the beginning of WWII, it quickly picked up again once the United States entered the war, as politicians, army officers and diplomats fell in love with the hotel and its so-called “smartest bomb shelter in London”.
The ownership switched hands a few times until it was sold to Saudi Prince Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal in 2004, who handed management to the Fairmont group (now a division of Accor Hotels).
The hotel underwent extensive renovations between 2007 and 2010 and has been refurbished in the art-déco style. The hotel celebrated its 130th anniversary recently (third picture below) and keeps receiving glowing reviews from experts and guests alike.
The Thames Foyer ★★★★★
Afternoon tea has been served in the Thames Foyer since the Savoy’s opening. A gazebo sits in the middle of the lounge, with a piano in its heart.
This is probably among my favourite venues in London for afternoon tea. The setting is amazing and the pianist is a true virtuoso.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
The tea is supplied by the JING tea company, supposedly one of the best suppliers according to the waiter. While I won’t sing their praise as tea supplier, the offer (27 teas and infusions) is more than decent and I love their metal teapots ♥.
The tea is brewed at the proper temperature but the tea will overbrew quite quickly: don’t dawdle and/or ask for a pot of hot water to regulate the brew. Allow me to recommend the Jasmine Silver white tea for starters, followed by the Yellow Gold oolong and the Red Dragon black tea (strong!).
Classic teas offer 27 (7 black, 4 green, 2 white, 4 oolong, 1 pu’erh & 9 infusions)
Brewing method: At the table; in a metal teapot containing the leaves (no strainer or tea bag)
Tea refills: yes (limited by the seating time)
The Savouries ★★★★☆
The afternoon tea starts with four sandwiches, one toast and one quiche:
- English Cucumber | Minted Goat’s Cheese | Juniper Berry Bread
- Chicken Coronation | Carrot & Coriander Bread
- Free Range Egg Salad | Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise | White Bread
- Brown Shrimps | Beetroot Remoulade | Multigrain Bread
- Oak Smoked Salmon | Chive Cream Cheese | Fennel Pollen | Lemon Brioche
- Butternut Squash | Honey & Cumin | Applewood | Tart
Each savoury was tasty but I was a tad disappointed with the tart, that lacked flavour (perhaps a certain je-ne-sais-quoi?)
Guests who choose the hight tea option can choose one extra savoury dish (two choices). I had the salmon with artichokes, which was exquisite 🙂
The Scones ★★★☆☆
Each serving of afternoon tea comes with two scones. They are served with clotted cream, strawberry jam and lemon curd.
I was a tad disappointed with the scones, they were slightly undercooked and the texture was amiss.
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★☆
The sweets are where things get a bit complicated: guests who choose the afternoon tea will get six pieces, while guests who choose the high tea will get four pieces.
- Citrus: Amalfi Lemon | Caramelised Meringue | Shortbread Biscuit
- Cube: Piedmont Hazelnut Cake | Gianduja Cremeux | Milk Chocolate Coating
- Tropical: Mango & Passion Fruit Jelly | Banana Crème
- Fruit Tartlet
- Iranian Pistachio Praline
- Tea Cake: Earl Grey Tea | Bergamot curd
Each cake was as beautiful at is was tasty. The “Cube” and the “Tropical” were my favourites.
Keep in mind that choosing the high tea will force you to skip two of the top plate cakes!
The Service ★★★★★
The staff is very attentive and the gentleman who served me was very helpful. Below is a video detailing the contents of the afternoon tea, starting with the hight tea savoury dish:
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★☆
The Fairmont Savoy Afternoon Tea and High Tea are among London’s most famous and most prestigious traditions. The Thames Foyer is probably my favourite venue this year, I just loved everything about it.
While it’s not perfect, it’s certainly one of the best experiences one can try while in London.
+: A legendary hotel
+: The Thames Foyer
+: Large choice of teas
+: The food
+: High Tea and Afternoon Tea
+: The service
-: The tea brewing
-: Average scones
-: Need to choose between savouries and sweets