Who are the guests selling out the lounge of the Savoy – a much grander room than the name “Thames Foyer” suggests – with their demand for a £65 afternoon blow-out?
To judge by the people tucking in to a multi-course feast the day we were there, a mix of overseas guests keen to enjoy the full English afternoon tea experience, businesspeople seeking a more relaxed venue than a formal restaurant to conduct their transactions, and country cousins like us, up for the theatre and keen to fuel for the long evening ahead before curtain up.
Fuelling discerning appetites is certainly what the Savoy’s catering is all about: “We advise people booking tea not to have lunch and not to make dinner reservations,” confides the maitre d’, resplendent like his colleagues in a fully-tailed green frock coat. Only what you would expect from a luxury hotel purveying the essence of turn of the century London portrayed in My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins. After all, the Savoy IS in many ways the London of 100 years ago, one of the city’s greatest and oldest grand hotels, in spite of having been thoroughly modernised and refurbished. The lobby looks the same as ever with its famous black and white tiles and the huge step-down lounge, with its central pergola housing a grand piano, remains one of the city’s most famous watering holes.
While £65 for tea sounds like a price only an oil sheikh could afford, it really is lunch, tea and dinner rolled up in one – perhaps brunch too, if you take the high tea option, which includes a poached egg with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce. This comes after the sandwiches, packed with more smoked salmon, thick-cut and the very best quality, egg mayonnaise, ham and, of course, cucumber. You will be tempted by the seconds offered, so fainter appetites may wish to save five pounds, skip the egg and go straight to the scones, served warm with strawberry preserves and clotted cream. Pastries are as fabulous as you might expect for the price, dainty but exceedingly rich, and at these prices they don’t blink an eye if you ask for one of everything.
The tea itself is top quality and properly served with pots of hot water to top up, although a fresh pot comes half-way through the feast. Live piano music completes this treat which lasts a surprising two hours, so theatre-goers should consider booking early – this is a treat you don’t want to rush.
Inspired by Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle, the hotel has launched a new Royal Afternoon Tea menu from May 1. This will include a taste of the Queen’s favourite cake, an authentic royal recipe in which Rich Tea biscuits and rum-soaked raisins feature along with chocolate ganache. Brewing in the pot will be Tea For Heroes,a blend developed by Terry Clark, a veteran of the Battle For Britain, and a glass of Sussex sparkling wine for good measure.
Tell me more about afternoon tea at the Savoy
London WC2R 0EZ
Tel: 020 7836 4343