You cant take in London without taking tea. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right! The Dorchester Hotel provided the perfect afternoon, embodying all the elegance and pomp and circumstance you’d imagine of high tea in London. A special girls trip to celebrate my mothers birthday, set the scene for the ultimate tea party! We sought out the most luxurious hotel to celebrate this special occasion because of course, you only celebrate 70 once!!
Avid fans of Downton Abbey, The Crown and all things posh and pretty, The Dorchester was exactly the high society British afternoon we had anticipated. Waistcoated doormen greet you at the revolving door through which you are welcomed into the Promenade, an extravagant parlor circled by marble columns and illuminated by elegant lanterns. Tables are laid with fine linens and lavish sprays of fragrant salmon colored roses enhance the beauty of the exquisite parlor interior. Live piano music set the mood for a leisurely afternoon as we checked our coats in the cloak room and settled into our leather sofa seating around a table for four and “took tea”, in style!
A celebratory champagne toast initiated our afternoon followed by a careful tea selections from an extensive menu of both rare and traditional choices ranging from oolong to green tea, herb and black, white and my personal favorite – peppermint! The assortment of tea sandwiches served exceeded our expectations with creative variations on classic favorites! Our waiter was charming answering all our questions and patiently explaining the ingredients of each delicate and delicious savory snack. After a palate cleansing marigold-peach tea, our sweets treats were served. Warm raisin scones were offered alongside thick clotted cream and assortments of rhubarb and strawberry preserves. Ill admit, I had (ahem) not one but two scones. Consequently, I wasn’t exactly hungry by the time our sweets were served on tiered tea trays, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying handcrafted cakes and pastries. Just too good to resist!
The Dorchester went above and beyond presenting mother with a personalized birthday cake and special serenade from the live pianist. Unarguably an unforgettable afternoon with laughs and memories and photographs we will cherish forever!
For the celebration of our own dear “queen mother’s” birthday, she invited her daughters to England for the ultimate tea party. 4 days bashing around London together climaxed with a mid-morning tea time at the quaint corner tea room – Betty Blythe! With brick walls and glittering chandeliers, this venue embodies both grit and grace, just like the women of the generation for which inspire the theme of the restaurant – the roaring 20’s!
The upstairs seats patrons who frequent the corner cafe on their coffee break or to carry out scones or pastries. Down a winding staircase is the private tea room where we happily spent hours playing dress up and sampling sweet and savory sensations!
Tara, the owner, has converted the space into every little girls dream….(or every big girl for that matter!) An entire room devoted to dress-ups and tea! We tried on swing dresses and rummaged through dresser drawers to accessorized with gloves and fascinators and hats and pearls.
Once adorned, our tea was served. Tiny tea sandwiches and house-made scones served up British style – with clotted cream and jam. Tiered tea-trays were plated up beautifully with delicate pastries and sweets which were passed around complimenting our English breakfast tea and Earl grey.
We had scoured books and blogs, web recommendations and word of mouth to find the best tea rooms in London and Betty Blythe stands out as one of Londons best-kept-secrets. This darling niche specializes to “hen parties”, baby showers and birthdays. With seating only for about 20, its never overcrowded and is strikingly reasonably priced.The perfect spot to take in local flavor, tasty treats and make charming, unforgettable memories!
The large yellow house with the wide white porch has candles lit in the windows and wreaths hung with red bows. Beckoning you inside is a pathway illuminated with glowing lanterns and the smell of cider in the crock pot greets you before you step over the threshold. Vintage Christmas books from my childhood are close at hand by couches where cozy throws invite you to snuggle up under the sprawling 15 foot Christmas tree adorned with huge silver balls and white twinkle lights.
Here the hearth fire is always burning and the coffee pot is never empty and the Christmas playlist in the background enhances the ambiance. Mother has been at work for weeks prepping all our favorite holiday dishes and stashing away sweets in tins on the sideboard.
The door constantly revolves with suitcases and baby cribs and wrapped gifts being lugged in by uncles and aunts. The squeals of cousins reuniting and thundering footsteps amplify the constant noise as little ones pair off in twos and threes and scamper off to the trampoline or the game room.
Board games are pulled out. Cookie trays are passed around. Laughter ensues.
The Santa mugs, the sentinel nutcrackers, the greens gathered in every vase; the duchess of decor has left no corner bare or undressed. Tables are set with Spode Christmas china and linens and festive centerpieces.
Snack baskets and “pillow presents” grace beds where each person will lay their head tonight.
This….this is what home-for-chrismtas looks like!!
We’ve spent more Christmases out of the country than at “home”, and we’ve made our own memories and created new traditions as our family grows and our life has led us down distant roads. But, the nostalgia and sentiment of the season always leaves me a bit “homesick” at this time of year and this Christmas was beautifully memorable and fun to take our Eden home for the holidays for the first time!!
Grateful. Just so grateful for family. For siblings who are my favorite people. For the beauty of 4 generations gathered. For cousin-best-friends for my children. But most of all for the reason we celebrate!!
Grateful for Emmanuel
…God with us.