W Rock Tea at W Hotel: Take a magical mystery (taste) tour with the coolest afternoon tea in town
When it comes to Afternoon Tea in London, there is a huge choice of venues and budgets to suit everyone. However, as much as I love Afternoon Tea, there are many that just blend into each other. While I do adore treating myself to high tea, I do tend to save it for special occasions, such as birthdays. So when organising a Mother’s Day treat this year, my sister and I hunted around for an ‘alternative’ tea and it didn’t take long before the W Rock Tea at the W Hotel came up.
The W Hotel London is a recent-ish addition to the popular, upmarket hotels in the capital. The London branch opened in 2011 and quickly became a destination for visitors to the capital who want to be in the centre of the action and to party. Situated on the site of the former Swiss Centre, the W stands on the Chinatown end of Wardour Street, where Leicester Square links to Piccadilly Circus. Outside the hotel it is pretty chaotic, a mix of tourists and Londoners battling to get to their destination. However, once you step inside the W and take a lift up to the reception, it is calm and relaxed.
Upon arrival, we were shown to our table in the W Lounge – comfortable sofas with low tables and windows overlooking bustling Wardour Street and the stunning rooftop architecture of Georgian buildings across the road. The Lounge is set back from the busier bar area and gangway between the lifts and the former by a row of shelves featuring contemporary, ornamental plates, which provided an eye-catching backdrop. With so much light and modern fixtures, the W Lounge really sets itself apart from other Afternoon Tea venues, which would usually be more traditional in nature.
As the W is a rock ‘n’ roll venue (it often plays hosts to after-parties during premieres, fashion week, etc) at its Wyld Bar, and is on the doorstep of Soho, the hotel’s afternoon tea has been strongly influenced by its setting. With music a big part of Soho’s history, the tea has been named the W Rock Tea, with the various bites named after legendary rock classics. After ordering our choice of tea, our individual pots soon arrived along with the three-tiered stand made of vinyl records – no chintz or granny’s china here! Despite the urge to immediately sample the sweets, we started with the savoury sandwiches – aka ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (Pink Floyd) – which consisted of smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill; cucumber and Greek yoghurt, egg mayonnaise and watercress; and roast chicken and lemon butter. The bread was a mix of brown and white so something to please everyone and no crusts (this made my inner child very happy!). The sandwiches were tasty, but light – meaning there was plenty of room for the sugar-filled delights which were coming next.
The one staple of all good afternoon teas is, of course, the scones – aka ‘Rule Britannia’. They were fresh and a substantial size, tasting divine with clotted cream and jam. With the traditional parts of the tea finished, we then started on the top two tiers of the stand. Accompanying the tea and stand were the shot glasses of ‘London’s Burning’ (The Clash) – a light and fluffy chocolate pudding with hazelnut crunch, which was definitely one of my favourite features of the Rock Tea. Other highlights included ‘Sticky Fingers’ (Rolling Stones) – vanilla meringue ‘with attitude’, which had carefully been created in the shape of the Stones’ iconic mouth and tongue. My Mum is a huge Stones fan so she was particularly chuffed with that. I also loved the ‘Cherry Bomb’ (The Runaways) – chocolate, mascarpone and cherry which was delicious and creamy. Other items on the tier included ‘Sweet Emotion’ chocolate and passion fruit, ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ rose financier and rose petal jam; and ‘Purple Haze’ Victoria Sponge and psychedelic marzipan, all different flavours in perfect sizes so you could sample each one.
Overall, the Rock Tea rocked! The service was friendly and attentive and all the food was delicious. The setting was comfortable and fun. I was definitely feeling pretty full afterwards so a walk through Soho was a good post-pig out remedy! For those looking for an afternoon tea with something a bit different, I would highly recommend the W Rock Tea.
- W Rock Tea is available in the W Lounge between 1pm and 4.45pm daily and costs £25 per person. W Hotel, 10 Wardour Street, W1D 6QF. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For booking, tel: 0207 758 1060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website. For more information, visit the W Hotel London website.
For the history of what stood on the site of the W Hotel before it was built, read Swiss glockenspiel in Leicester Square: The last survivor of the Swiss Centre.
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