It is very rare that I get a friend from home (Arizona) visiting London. A couple weeks ago, Linda, happened to be in London on business. She is married to one of my best friends from high school...they started dating about 15 years ago so I feel like I have known her forever. I knew she was going to be visiting so when I saw a Groupon voucher for Afternoon Tea at No. 31 Lounge Bar in The Hempel Hotel I thought that would be a perfect option. Afternoon tea is definitely the perfect thing for visitors. Since I had recently enjoyed the tasting menu from No. 35 (blog here) at The Hempel I wanted to see if their lounge would be as good.
The Hempel is a very modern hotel. Beautiful but not cozy...although I did like the couches and the warm fire in No. 31. I thought it offered a very upscale feeling which was nice for impressing a good friend. The tea menu offered eight different options of organic leaf tea. I chose the Assam and Linda went with Earl Grey.
The finger sandwiches were good. We had ham and cheese, salmon and cream cheese, egg salad and coronation chicken. I really liked the coronation chicken. It's not a sandwich filler I have ever had before as it is never quite clear what it is, but here I trusted it and it was very good.
The cakes were lovely as well. I especially liked the lemon meringue tart. We also had brownies, macaroons and spiced cake. The scones were just OK. They were very soft and didn't have the crunchy outside that I like. Last time Linda visited several years ago, I had taken her to The Orchard in Grantchester near Cambridge. They have the BEST scones and these definitely were not up to that level.
The highlight of Linda's last visit was our trip to Stonehenge where we literally ran into Matt Damon! We were trying to walk through the underground walkway to get to the monument and accidentally headed for the men's bathroom just as he was walking out!!! As it was already 4:30pm we missed out on seeing Stonehenge as we stood starstruck for the next 20 minutes as he and his wife loaded their baby into the van with the help of several body guards! That is my best (maybe only) celebrity story. Unfortunately, Matt Damon did not show up for afternoon tea...but all in all we enjoyed the afternoon. If I went back to No. 31 I would like to try their bar menu. It includes a variety of sandwiches, salads, tapas and snacks and an exciting list of cocktails...or another visit to No. 35 would be well worth it. However, the afternoon tea was nice and I would definitely recommend it if you happen to be staying in the hotel.
The afternoon tea is £20 each and you can upgrade to include a glass of Taittinger champagne for an additional £10.
No. 31 Lounge Bar
The Hempel Hotel
31-35 Craven Hill Gardens