Sketch - London's Most Glamorous Place for Afternoon Tea

Sketch has become instantly recognizable due to its iconic art deco-inspired, glamorous pink salon that is an Instagrammers dream. 

Located in Mayfair, Sketch hosts a series of bars and restaurants over two stories in a converted 18th century building. 

The Gallery, designed by India Mahdavi and David Shrigley, is the eponymous room in Sketch that features the afternoon tea, which, in my opinion (and probably many others, considering how busy it gets), is the most glamorous in London! If you're looking for a classic experience in a beautiful room, particularly with a group of girlfriends, this is a perfect place. To note, it is also open for dinner, with creatively styled and interpreted classic dishes. 

 

Sketch London Afternoon Tea

From the moment you arrive at Sketch, the service is impeccable, adding to the luxurious experience you have there. Start by choosing either a classic or Champagne afternoon tea; as you can see above, we went with the Champagne tea! Served in classic Champagne glasses, it automatically ups the glam factor. Sip your champagne slowly while taking in your surroundings, which include 239 pieces of quirky artwork lining the walls by David Shrigley - the largest group of original drawings Shrigley has ever exhibited.  

Start with creative and delicious sandwiches, served on an afternoon tea cake stand, created from stacked cups and saucers. The tastiest ones in my opinion are the coronation chicken, and truffle croque monsieur. If you fancy some more, your server will gladly bring you a refill of your favourites!

But don't forget that you've got fresh scones and cakes to enjoy as well, so don't fill up too much on the sandwiches to save room for the other things! 

You can select from freshly baked, warm plan or sultana scones, served with classic clotted cream and strawberry jam. I went with a classic plain, which was delicious. It was also a nice balance between the savoury sandwiches and sweet cakes. 

The cakes offer a nice balance of flavours, from a citrus tart, to chocolate gateaux, to bubblegum marshmallow knots (very light in flavour so not overpowering), and a delicious cheesecake pudding. 

Sketch London Afternoon Tea
Sketch London Afternoon Tea
Sketch London Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is served between 12:30pm - 4:30pm Mondays through Sundays.

sketch Afternoon Tea as from Monday 13 March:
sketch Classic Afternoon Tea, £58 per person
Champagne Afternoon Tea, £72 per person
Children's Afternoon Tea, £29 per child - including Pat the Bear

 

Oh - and don't forget to make a stop to check out the quirky, beautiful, space-like bathroom pods before you go!

Afternoon Tea With A View

In the spirit of this beautiful time of year, the Shangri-la London at the Shard created a beautiful festive afternoon tea, which I got to enjoy recently. You can enjoy your afternoon tea at the TING Lounge, set high up in the Shard with an incredible view and plush surroundings. TING's afternoon tea focuses on using seasonal and locally sourced produce for guests to enjoy. In addition to a classic English afternoon tea, they also offer an Asian-inspired alternative. Also keeping their guests in mind, TING offers gluten-free, nut-free, and vegetarian versions if you request it upon reservation. 

I went later in the afternoon to enjoy the festive tea and was lucky enough to have a table next to the window. While I enjoyed my lovely welcome glass of champagne, I was able to gaze out over London bathed in the most beautiful shades of blue twilight, and watched as the lights of London began twinkling at Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and the Tower of London.

Shard London Shangri-la Afternoon Tea
Shard London Shangri-la Afternoon Tea

Right from being greeted at the entrance of the Shangri-La, I had fantastic service from everyone, which is such an important distinguishing feature, particularly for a luxury afternoon tea experience. 

The table setting was simple yet elegant. Sparkling glasses, shiny white plates, and touches of gold and floral accents. In addition to the welcome glass of champagne, I enjoyed a traditional welcome tea that was anything but simple. My server brought a wooden box to my table with two small Japanese style cups of tea. Here's where the magic happens: water is then poured over the box, activating billowing clouds of steam to create a mesmerizing effect. 

Shard London Shangri-la Afternoon Tea
Shard London Shangri-la Afternoon Tea
Shard London Shangri-la Afternoon Tea

This is the perfect winter treat to brighten things up in the dark of winter. The view itself is worth it alone - especially if you are looking to impress out of town visitors with a special place or if you're just looking to enjoy a quality afternoon tea and enjoy the Shard views at the same time.

But on to the good part - what you'll get to enjoy!

Sandwiches:

  • Smoked Salmon (smoked salmon with creme fraiche and caper butter on rye bread)
  • Rhug Estate Turkey (organic turkey with cranberry relish and sage butter on white bread)
  • Wiltshire Ham (tomato chutney and watercress on tomato bread)
  • Truffled Duck Egg (organic duck egg mayonnaise with rocket and mustard cress on citrus white bread)
  • Fresh Cornish Crab (five spice crab with papaya on a brioche bun)

Scones: 

  • Two lovely, warm scones, Classic English and Golden Raisin, along with the traditional English clotted cream and Bermondsey strawberry jam. 

Pastries: the talented pastry chefs have created the following to enjoy:

  • Cranberry, Orange and Almond pastry (yoghurt mousse, cranberry sponge, and candied orange)
  • Gingerbread, Pear and Caramel pastry (spiced gingerbread, pear mousse, and caramel cremeux)
  • Mandarin and Spiced Prune Tart - tastes very much like a mince pie! (prune compote and mandarin mousse)
  • Chocolate Plaisir (milk chocolate mousse, raisin compote, and Pedro Ximinez)
  • Macaron Mont Blanc (chestnut cream, chocolate cremeux, and confit chestnuts) 

 

The turkey sandwich was my favourite on the sandwiches tray, as it reminded me so much of Christmas dinner. The fresh and warm scones were also wonderful. The only question to contemplate is whether you put the clotted cream on first or the jam. Which do you prefer??

By the time I had made it to the pastry tray, I was quite full. The pastries were on the very sweet and rich side, so I couldn't finish them all at the table. My server kindly packed them up for me though so I was able to enjoy them the next day. Make sure you visit with an appetite!

The festive afternoon tea is £56 and reservations are highly recommended (click on the hyperlink on reservations to take you to the page).  

The price differs if you add a glass of:

- Duval Leroy, Fleur de Champagne, Premier Cru, Brut NV £64
- Duval Leroy, Fleur de Champagne, Premier Cru, Rose Brut NV £68
- Bollinger Special Cuvée, NV £72

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser

What are the essentials for an afternoon tea? I take afternoon tea seriously and feel like I can be a discerning guest. For me, there are five key things I like to look for that I think makes a great afternoon tea worthy of recommending:

1. Quality of Service

2. Scone Quality

3. Mixture and Balance of Savoury and Sweet

4. Quality and Selection of Teas

5. Atmosphere

I recently had the great pleasure to have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Palliser, located in Calgary, Alberta, and I have to say that it excelled on all of those key points! Firstly, the stunning, classic Rimrock Room where the Palliser holds their tea is steeped (pun intended!) in history. This grand room has played host to many guests over its 101 year history, including everyone from Canadian Prime Ministers, Sharon Osbourne, British Royalty, and the Game of Thrones cast! 

The service is impeccable. We were attended to from the moment we arrived - and not in an annoying, hovering way. They genuinely want to ensure you are looked after and have everything you need and want. I was amazed at the depth of knowledge that our young server had of the teas he brought around in a lovely box. He could give you every last detail of the entire extensive selection from where the leaves were from, pros and cons of loose leaf versus bags, what goes best with what food, and how long to steep the tea for. 

When you arrive at your table, there are the loveliest little touches and attention to detail, such as the beautifully presented menu, a gift of the Palliser's own blend of tea to take home (Margaret's Hope Darjeeling), the white lace tablecloth and crisp linens, and classic centrepiece of a single white rose. It is obvious that a great deal of care and attention has been put into making guests feel welcome and have a luxurious experience that they will remember. 

The vanilla scones were just perfect - not too sweet and perfectly baked - and paired with a delicious selection of jams and cream. Having the right cream for scones is essential and the Palliser's choice was terrific: not too heavy and not too sweet.  There was a delicious range of sandwiches from classic cucumber, to salmon, to a very light curry chicken. I'm not usually a fan of curry chicken but I have to say that it was so fresh and very light in flavour, surprising me with how much I enjoyed it! And the little cakes... absolutely divine! I've had afternoon tea in other places around the world where the desserts can dominate the experience, making it sickly sweet and you leave feeling a bit ill. Not here - the desserts were the perfect ending and everything was in balance with each other. 

My friend and I were a bit of a last minute addition to attend the tea. My friend, Andrea, is celiac and as soon as we mentioned it to our waitress, she went to the kitchen and worked with the chef to produce an incredible speed of treats that she could enjoy. It was incredibly thoughtful and we were stunned by the service and how they went out of their way. We later had the opportunity to meet with the Chef who came to our table, which was another absolutely brilliant touch. It was great to let him know how much we appreciated it and how much we enjoyed his tasty treats all around. 

Now, we had the opportunity to attend afternoon tea on a special day at the Palliser, which was celebrating Heritage Day in Calgary. As such, all of the guests moved to another beautiful room where we had the chance to enjoy a talk on the fascinating history of the Palliser over the past century and experiences and memories from its many guests over the years! Who would have thought it has played host to everyone from members of the British Royal Family, to Prime Ministers, to Brad Pitt and Angelina Joie, Bill Murray, Marilyn Manson, and the wildly popular Comic Con celebrities (and eager fans!). 

Overall, it was such an enjoyable experience with impeccable service! I just wish it was closer to home so that I could enjoy it on a regular basis; though, perhaps the distance is what also makes it special to enjoy every moment. This would be a brilliant outing to go to with girlfriends, take your mum, a bridal or baby shower, or just because it's a weekend! 

If you're in Calgary, make this a must-do on your list! The Palliser's Afternoon Tea Service is held daily between 1 to 3pm. To ensure that you can enjoy this service, give the Palliser a call and they will be more than happy to help you with securing a reservation (tip: book before 11am on the day of the service at the latest, if possible) The tea is $37.50/person plus tax and worth every penny!  Also very cute - there is a junior high tea menu offered for children under 12, which would be a lovely experience. Keep your eye out also for special tea events that the Palliser will hold during the year for an extra special experience.

 

A big thank you to the Palliser, Jacqueline and team for a wonderful, memorable experience. I can't wait to return!