This is London’s only Conrad hotel (the property in Chelsea which was the first Conrad has been through several re-brandings and is now a Wyndham Grand). You can read a review here.
Conrad Hotels are part of the Hilton worldwide portfolio. The hotel’s interiors feature original art installations, modern design and state-of-the-art facilities, all housed within a historic 19th century building which was formerly home to Queen Anne’s Chambers.
Where is it?
On the doorstep of St James Park station, within walking distance of The Mall, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and St James Palace.
We were greeted by the Maitre d’ in the hotel lobby who showed us to our table in Emmeline’s Lounge, a casual dining space named after British women’s activist Emmeline Pankhurst. The lounge is bright and modern, with plush sofas and armchairs grouped together in twos, while there are some larger sofas intended for groups. The lighting was soft and atmospheric, with gentle harp music playing in the background. After the hustle of London, we felt instantly calm and relaxed.
The Conrad’s afternoon tea is festively called “Winter Solstice”, and you can opt for a warming pot of tea with a variety of exotic infusions, or a glass of Mumm champagne if you’re up for something stronger.
Here is the menu:
WINTER SOLSTICE AFTERNOON TEA
Fig and blue cheese crostini
Smoked Salmon and avocado salad
Turkey, sage and parma ham sausage rolls
Beetroot and goat cheese
Honey roast ham and cranberry
Cucumber and chive creme fraiche
Roast beef and watercress brioche
Cranberry and orange
St Clement’s curd and Cornish clotted cream
White forest gateaux
Plum, raspberry and almond tart
Manjari double chocolate orange tart
Green apple and blackberry mousse
Valrhona chocolate wreath
Shortly after we ordered, a towering array of savouries arrived with sandwiches, scones, sliders, pastries and shot glasses filled with salmon mousse and avocado.
A base dish of scones is your staple for any good afternoon tea. These were nestled in a linen envelope with two types – toasted pecan, and cranberry and orange, served with clementine curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream. The curd was sweet and creamy, a little runny but delicious and a great pairing with the champagne, which enhanced the citrus notes in the curd.
The next dish up was the finger sandwiches – dainty and traditional in shape, though each had a seasonal twist such as the cranberry bread filled with honey roast ham and slathered in cranberry sauce. My favourite was the roast beef and watercress brioche, which we dipped into the smoked salmon mousse shots while crunching on fig and blue cheese crostini.
We were offered more savoury treats, but sensibly declined knowing there was much more to come. Instead, we paused for a short break, enjoying a fresh pot of ginger and lemon tea to cleanse the palate and a champagne refill before our final course – dessert.
When the dish was placed in front of us, we were glad that we’d refused a second round of sandwiches. On a slate platter sat a wreath of twigs, made of dark chocolate, around which glistening berries and jewel-like cakes were delicately placed. A gastronomic triumph, head pastry chef Zoe Wager had worked her magic to create a selection of soft and airy desserts to decorate the wreath, such as the green apple mousse, which had tangy shards of apple wedged into it, and a silver-dusted blackberry on top.
The white forest gateaux was made with soft white chocolate mousse, with a milk chocolate centre and topped with a kirsch-soaked cherry. Each dessert was a good size, blending sharper flavours with the cream of the mousse so that none was too rich or heavy.
The service was friendly, attentive and welcoming. Dietary requirements were met with ease and we were offered plenty of alternatives.
This truly is a decadent way to welcome the festive season and a great antidote to a hard day’s shopping. Don’t think about having lunch before hand – there is enough food and drink here to last you for the whole day.
Opening hours: The Winter Solstice Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James is available until February 9, 2017.
£49 per person; £57.50 per person with a glass of Champagne; £64 per person with free flowing Champagne