Afternoon Tea at Homage, Waldorf Hilton

London, UK
January 2016

I had really high hopes for the Waldorf Hilton in London since I had such a great experience at the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam.  The Waldorf in London is on the edge of Covent Garden; the closest stations are Temple (7 minute walk) and Covent Garden (6 minute walk).  The hotel was established at this site in 1908 and boasts a long list of famous patrons like Judy Dench, Elizabeth Taylor, and Pavarotti.

The building used to be a theater, hotel, and shops.  The restaurant, Homage, where the afternoon tea is held, used to be the making room where fans waited for their favorite performers after a show.

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The interior was nicely decorated in an art deco/neoclassical style with bench seating along the walls and multiple tables in the center of the room.  Being at the end of the bench seating, I had the unfortunate circumstance of sitting on an uneven seat.  Half of the my allocated seat had cushioning, the other half did not.  The tables and chairs were nicely proportioned otherwise.

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An interesting point to note is the china.  Made by the Royal Crown Derby, it boasts that it is the last of the original English fine bone china makers still making their china entirely in England.

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The tea menu had a good variety of teas, but I would have liked to have seen a straight oolong and a citrus infusion of some kind.  Since you were only able to pick one tea, I chose The Waldorf Tribute Blend.  I was hoping for a smokier flavor from the Lapsang Souchong, but it was still a nice black tea.

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The sandwiches came out and were very tasty overall.  Their flavored breads really added a lot of interesting, distinct flavor combinations.  I especially like the egg and watercress on basil bread and ham and mustard on onion bread.  The cheese and cucumber on carrot bread was our least favorite.  The cucumber was sliced a bit too thickly and needed to be dehydrated a bit more to keep the sandwich from being a little soggy.

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Next the scones and sweets were served on the 3 tiered tray.  While looking quite impressive, we did note that they didn’t serve 2 of each dessert.  In this situation, picking which ones to eat can be challenging.  We decided to split each dessert in half, so we could both try everything.

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There were two types of scones, plain and raisin, served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.  As you can see from the photo, the scones were a little overbaked which made them crumbly.  But they were still tasty with the clotted cream and jam.

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On the middle tier with sweets, there was an almond slice, lemon macaron, pistachio cupcake, and chocolate chip muffin.  The almond slice was creamy in texture and light in flavor.  The lemon macaron was filled with a chiffon cream and lemon jam (not my favorite, but had a nice flavor to it).  The pistachio cupcake and chocolate chip muffin were the highlights of this tier with good flavors and textures.

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On the top tier with sweets was the raspberry trifle, dark chocolate and cranberry cake, and treacle tart.  I preferred this tier to the middle one.  The raspberry trifle had a good balance of tartness of the fruit to cream and custard.  The dark chocolate and cranberry cake was a little too rich for me, but a good addition to the other sweets.  The treacle tart was deliciously rich and caramelly but still had a granulated texture.

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I think that our overall experience would have been greatly improved by better service.  Within the two large rooms, there appeared to only be 2 servers and 1 waitstaff (setting and clearing tables).  For the price, comparable to other higher end hotel teas, I would not have expected to have to ask multiple times to receive tea at an afternoon tea.  We ended up waiting an hour and a half before our first cup (after our welcome drink).

Even with all the shortcomings of the service and uneven bench seating, we weren’t rushed or asked to leave (90 minute seating as listed on the website).  Therefore, we were able to enjoy the food while talking.  With a few tweaks, the Waldorf’s afternoon tea could be significantly improved and more enjoyable.

Tea 2/5, one choice (refillable), good variety
Food 3.5/5
Atmosphere 2.75/5
Service 2/5
Overall 2.5/5 (rounding down)

Waldorf Hilton
12:30pm to 4:00pm Monday to Friday
1:00pm to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday

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