Afternoon Tea at The Library Lounge Review
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Best for: tranquil afternoons; quiet conversations; and Mother’s Day treats.
Great: selection of fragrant afternoon teas; miniature cakes; and views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Do you slave at a job requiring you to stand for long periods of the day? Then you, toughened construction worker and saintly nurse, deserve a monumentally gratifying sit down for your hardy output; preferably reclined in an enormous armchair at a gradient of no less than 43 degrees.
And you, Blackberry-browbeaten project manager; has there been a point in your busy schedule this week that hasn’t required a meeting? Since Monday, has life amounted to a barrage of coffees, croissants, talk, talk, talk, and more talk? You need to soothe that over-active larynx with a pot of fresh, fragrant tea, as chosen by your nose, having smelt a selection of twelve jars displayed in a leather bound box. Open them, smell them, drink them.
There aren’t many of us who don’t deserve a treat of epic proportions once in a while, and the Library Lounge Afternoon Tea on the banks of the river Thames is the less naked equivalent of taking consecutive hot baths in all of this hotel’s top-of-the-range suites.
Firstly, there’s the grand setting: a secluded alcove, in a quiet library - excepting Saturdays, when a live pianist melts mellifluous tones into the air - containing books that are unlikely to distract you from your reveries, such as the laugh-a-minute Dictionary of Organometallic Compounds. The inert busts of Achilles, Socrates, Plato and Shakespeare peering down from atop the bookshelves proffer more insightful thinking than you will manage during your stay here, such is the inclination towards pulling the plug in the hot bath of one’s mind (ah, there’s that bath again).
Then there is the personal vantage point, through the unnecessarily tall windows, which not only provides unrestricted views of the flags on top of the Ministry of Defence and the peanut sellers on Westminster Bridge, but also obscures the South Bank walk way just enough so that the riff-raff perambulating along it disappear, and with them the reminder that this splendid Afternoon Tea is ephemeral and that, unfortunately, you too will soon become riff-raff again. Savour this fleeting suspension of reality, therefore.
And then there’s the Afternoon Tea itself. My personal achievement in earning such a lavish indulgence was two laps of a muddy, windy, and remarkably hilly Hampstead Heath at running pace earlier in the day. I could not have been more ready for a comfy chair and nice cup of Lady Grey tea. It was just tickety-boo.
In fact, it was a series of “Ahhhhs” throughout the two or three relaxing hours (I lost count) we spent marvelling at the tower of tasty treats, with finger sandwiches at the base, orange crusted-golden raisin sweet scones and Montgomery Cheddar savoury scones on the centre layer, and a delicious configuration of sugary goodness on the top layer that surely deserved an accolade for its services to Valrhona chocolate, passion fruit, coconut and mango.
It was an Afternoon Tea of firsts for me. I’d never eaten a sandwich with a knife and fork before. I’d never chosen a ham and mustard sandwich as my favourite as I usually show disdain for mustard. And, it was the first time in 2013 that I had drunk an alcoholic beverage, owing to my recent self-inflicted bout of sobriety (madness!!); the large glass of Champagne to accompany my Afternoon Tea (all for a reasonable £34) was, therefore, most gratifying.
The soporific effects of this Afternoon Tea, especially when choosing the lovely lavender and blackcurrant infusion, is such that, by the time you reach the cake level, you may require a little snooze; which is fine, just don’t snore, and make sure you wake up in time to appreciate the change from day, to twilight, to darkness (during the winter months) outside.
The Library Lounge Afternoon Tea, as a name, doesn’t do this experience justice. It should really be called the It’s Important To Recognise The Fact That You Achieved Greatness Today And Are Therefore Deserving Of A Moment Of Complete Calm, In Library, Overlooking Big Ben Ahhhhfternoon Tea....read more
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- Cuisine Type: Afternoon Tea
- Group: Marriott
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