A few months ago I was lucky enough to win a voucher that entitled me to afternoon tea for 2 at The Hilton, Westminster. As always, I did a quick search of reviews, photos etc and all looked good.
We arrived at The Hilton, which was in the Pimlico area of London and was directed upstairs by reception. We arrived at the restaurant and I immediately recognized that the room we were dining in did not match the photos of the afternoon tea lounge that was on the internet. Instant disappointment there.
We were then led to the back of the restaurant in the corner where there laid 3 small tables. We were seated at the middle table, with 2 couples either side of us, in very close proximity. I immediately felt like this was too close for comfort and deflation hit even more. We could hear conversations from either side and felt so exposed and uncomfortable. The windows were floor to ceiling, and I was facing the window whereas Mike was facing the restaurant. I had a lovely view - of building work which was right outside the window on the building across the road. I'm sure I read somewhere that the actual lounge we were meant to be in offered panoramic views? I know construction work on another building is out of The Hilton's hands, but it really did effect the whole experience. I thought the whole idea of afternoon tea was to have an intimate and unique experience. This was far from it.
A waiter arrived and asked what tea we wanted without even being provided with a menu, neither did he explain what tea's they had to offer - it took us to ask what they had available. The afternoon tea arrived shortly afterwards and honestly, the quality of the food wasn't anything special. I found the fillings in the sandwiches to be fairly sparse, and the desserts were mediocre. We were given profiteroles, scones, a small carrot/ginger(?) cake and a banoffee pie. Half way through our tea, both the couples had (thankfully) left, so we were by ourselves. I happened to glance over to each table and notice that both had left the remains of the same dessert - the banoffee pie. I tried mine and I too had to leave it, it wasn't for my taste palette at all. I am hoping The Hilton notice a pattern with the leftovers and consider adapting their menu a little!
I've had a lot of afternoon teas in my time so I have a lot of experience to be able to compare, and overall this was not a great experience, sorry Hilton! Maybe if we were situated somewhere else in the restaurant my views would have been slightly most positive but unfortunately being crammed into a corner with others being at arms length was not my idea of luxury. Its frustrating because I know London is Queen Bee when it comes to afternoon tea, and yet the 2 times I've managed to experience it there, they've both been poor locations, and yet I know there are so many more much better locations. Next time... next time!