Afternoon tea at Ham Yard
Afternoon tea is something so English, yet we never really seem to make time for it. The only times I have been were at the Royal Crescent Hotel
in Bath (a serious delight – am still saving up to stay there) and at the Langham Hotel
behind Oxford Street for a Hen Do. Both were fun experiences, quintessentially English and highly calorific.
The latest addition to the Firmdale hotel
, Ham Yard
has been plastered on food and fashion bloggers Instagrams and has graced the pages of countless high end magazines, from Conde Nast Traveller to House & Garden. Afternoon tea is the perfect excuse to go check it out – a bit more substantial than a drink (cocktails are meant to be good though) and a bit more affordable than dinner or a night’s stay (I wish).
And at £18 per person, the afternoon tea they offer here is more than reasonable.
But let me quickly touch upon the hotel and the decor before moving on to tea. The location is perfect – in the heart of Soho but set back a bit (rather like the Soho Hotel
) so it’s surroundings are not so hectic. The interior design (by owner and interior designer Kit Kemp
) is eccentric and unique. There is no common theme running through the hotel – every room is individual, with a number of statement pieces, plenty of colour and an overriding feel of comfort and luxury. The hotel is not as ’boutiquey’ as say the Charlotte Street
or Covent Garden Hotel
– they describe it as an ‘Urban Village’
for a reason – and the 91 rooms, 24 apartments, numerous independent shops, the cinema and the bowling alley are testament to this. In the summer their central garden or rooftop terrace must be a wonderful place to have a drink.
Back to tea. We were seated in their conservatory – one of my favourite spaces in the hotel; with soft colours, low lighting and candles. I’d say it would be even nicer in the summer, rather than on a late autumn afternoon like when we went, as it can be quite dark. Tea was wonderful – warm mini scones, bounty cupcakes, macaroons and sticky Battenburgs. Their savoury additions were also good – especially their mini quiche Loraine and their creamy prawn bruschetta. The range of tea offered (only 3 choices – I went for Twinings Earl Grey) was a little disappointing but they offer coffee too if you prefer. I loved their china – pretty and delicate and perfect for such an occasion.
The one let down? The service. Quite a substantial part of the experience and I left feeling very disappointed. We waited 45 minutes before we were served our tea (how long can it really take to prepare?). A light kept flickering and when we asked them to fix it one of the waitresses came back only to tell us – with a big grin – that it could not be fixed today. And then she left. Eventually one of the managers saw we weren’t happy and addressed our problems. The light was sorted, our tea was brought and we were served champagne on the house.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Despite our experience it’s good value for what you get, since most hotels serve high tea for at least £25 and up (afternoon tea at the Ritz costs £50, without champagne). And the setting is fun (you must check out the loos, they’re cool too). Just be aware that it gets very busy on the weekend so be prepared for the service to be slower than you’d expect from a five star hotel, which is the only let down.
1 Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT
T: +44 (0)20 3642 2000