It’s turning into a tradition that when my friend Kate visits London we go for afternoon tea. This time we tried a Royal Afternoon Tea at The Arch hotel.
The Arch Hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel in Marylebone, perfectly situated for the amenities of Oxford Street and just a short walk from Marble Arch. Despite it’s central location it feels far from the hustle and bustle of nearby Edgware Road which is a real treat in itself.
Kate brought her mum to London with her on this visit and she’d never been for afternoon tea; I’d wanted to try The Arch for quite some time as it seems to lean more towards a traditional afternoon tea and is relatively cheap in comparison to others on offer in central London.
When we arrived we were given a tea menu before being taken to a table that doubled up as a private booth. After agonising over the teas (Kate’s mum doesn’t drink hot drinks and was offered a range of juices instead) I finally settled on a white needle tea which I found incredibly refreshing. Kate went for something more fruity and after we accidentally confused teapots I was able to try hers and it was very good.
As we were a group of three, two stands of cakes and sandwiches were quickly brought over to us and they looked incredible – check out the rise on the scones!
The idea behind the menu is to celebrate the best of British – billed as a tea worthy of the Royal seal of approval the focus is very much on quality. It’s traditional, it’s simple but it is very well executed. The sandwiches were superb: thick cut ham with chunky homemade piccalilli, classic egg and cress on the softest white bread and chicken liver parfait with spiced fig chutney on toast. This was a real standout for all of us and Kate went to great lengths to ensure not a morsel of parfait went to waste!
The rare roast beef with horseradish and crispy shallots was by far and away the winner for me though, it was everything you could want from an afternoon tea sandwich. Utterly delicious. I enjoyed mine with a Stilton cheese straw which isn’t pictured because I inhaled it as soon as it arrived. I’m not the biggest fan of Stilton but I could eat those cheese straws until I could eat no more. Delicious.
The cakes were also very good. Normally I’d turn down battenburg due to a hatred of marzipan and anything almond flavoured but this was surprisingly good and small enough not to be cloyingly sweet; the chocolate orange teacake was something of a let down as it was very rich and far too big, a smaller size would be a vast improvement; the macaron was perfectly crisp and meltingly good at the same time but the two stand out choices for me were the strawberry and pistachio tart which is quite possibly one of the nicest cakes I’ve ever had at afternoon tea and the mini pavlova which was the perfect way to finish the meal.
The scones were quite delicious though I couldn’t manage a full one after so much cake but that didn’t deter me from covering the half I did eat with lashings of clotted cream and homemade jam.
All in all we had a throughly nice time at The Arch for afternoon tea. It’s very reasonably priced at just £25 per person and the food is of exceptional quality. The only downside, or it could be a plus side, is that it’s very quiet. We did go during the week and we were the only people there when we left which in a way is lovely as we had the place to ourselves and we were never once rushed by the waiting staff who really couldn’t have been more wonderful, but I do think that with a little more atmosphere this could be a real winner. I will, however continue to enjoy it as much as possible as a hidden gem until that time.
I think this would make a great mothers day present, or just be a lovely stop off during a day shopping with the girls.