Afternoon Tea Review: Baglioni Hotel London, Hyde Park in London
Look a bit closer along the south side of Hyde Park and you will come across an Italian tenant overlooking the park; London’s Baglioni Hotel. Along with the obvious Italian theme that is present throughout this collection of privately owned boutique hotels one may sense an exotic presence. The luxury persona of this particular London property balances a juxtaposition of rich Italian decor with Asian influences, adding an alternative decadence; we are told the mastermind behind this is the owner’s wife.
We spent the afternoon in the restaurant, sat in deep chairs and sofas by the large windows overlooking the park. Continuing the Italian theme and in an attempt to gain greater understanding of this luxury Italian hospitality group, we booked in for their unique Italian Afternoon Tea. Curious as to how this popular tradition would be translated into a classically British affair, it was insightful to experience this combination. To start we were presented with some flutes of Bellavista and soon after finger sandwiches where the creativity began with fillings such as sun dried tomatoes, ricotta cheese and grilled Mediterranean vegetables with warm focaccia. Their Italian adventure hasn’t quite reached out too far though, with the presence alongside traditional, Oak smoked Scottish salmon, sour cream and dill and egg mayonnaise. Despite an appreciation for their attempt at creativity the bread is something the Baglioni need to pay closer attention to and not something I would describe quite as freshly cut.
On a stage of their own, the freshly baked scones were next out. Half with chocolate and the other plain; served with strawberry jam, nutella and clotted cream. This may be my traditionalist roots over-riding, but potentially, I would have preferred raisins and less chocolate on chocolate, the clotted cream however: a winner. The aspects that made an impression with this Italian twist, were the sweet treats which is a combination that seemed to work. This included a gorgeous Italian tiramisu which on its own would have stood its own ground. Traditionalists at heart, our afternoon was alongside their classic English breakfast tea which is described, Strong and aromatic, made from high-quality Assam, Ceylon and Kenia tea. The Italian afternoon tea is available at £42 from one to five in the afternoon.
I may not have won you over with this Italian twist on tea but… the Baglioni does also have slightly safer options to choose from. Their Champagne Afternoon Tea is served with a glass of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial at £47; their Traditional Afternoon Tea at £32 lists favourites from cucumber, cream cheese and white bread with egg mayonnaise to chicken and lettuce with wholemeal bread, English mustard and British roast beef at £32.50. Another option is their Romantic Afternoon Tea which is the Traditional Afternoon Tea served with a glass of Ruinart Rosè with fresh strawberries & cream and lemon mousse.
One clever aspect of their menu is the a la carte offering. Despite the set options above, you are able to pluck out favourites and essentially create your own bespoke tea menu. The loose tea options available to all come in the form of Darjeeling Earl Grey, Superior Oolong: they say one of the most exquisite, semi-fermented teas, Fruity Camomile and Granny’s Garden, which is definitely more English than Italian, although it does seem tempting, made with fresh rhubarb and rounded off with the delicate sweetness of Bourbon vanilla.
The gorgeous location and authentic service are some of the high points of the Baglioni London. Although extremely comfortable, the over the top decor, as decadent and lavish as it is, wouldn’t appeal to everyone. Saying that, the overall the lavishness ties back into the very essence and creativity of this privately owned hotel. I give them credit for their creativity with afternoon tea and almost salute them for stamping their Italian twist on the very British tradition.
Address: Baglioni Hotel London: 60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5BB / 020 7368 5700