Hotel Café Royal, established in 1865 is situated on one of London’s most famous streets, Regent Street, next to the landmark Piccadilly Circus which hails thousands of tourists everyday. As far as locations go it cannot be better. As you enter through its prominent and historic entrance, the lobby’s very modern set up provides a stark contrast. My destination for the afternoon was the Oscar Wilde Bar. The “bar” serves up a fine high tea, you may find yourself getting carried away with flutes of champagne, all the way into sundowners. Though I suspect you would be too full with the tea to put anything else in your belly.
On entering the room, the gold gilded walls and ceilings momentarily blind you, but my reflection in the wall to wall mirrors gave me a glimpse of how in awe I was of this room. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts, have probably gathered by now that I am a bit of a sucker for anything with a captivating historical background and story and this room has oodles of it. It started as The Grill Room and was later renamed the Oscar Wilde Bar after its most famous patron who reportedly met his boyfriend there. Royal and Hollywood icons from Princess Diana to Elizabeth Taylor were known to frequent the “bar”.
I was escorted to my very well-padded seat that fitted in perfectly with the low tables. There is a feel of being in a very wealthy child’s playroom at teatime playing “tea”. Pink champagne at teatime on holiday is irresistible and so I very rudely ordered my first glass before my companion arrived. Later we moved onto some white tea which I immediately realized was a mistake. A pick from the twenty tea blends on the menu would have been better choice. The tea spread consisted of sandwiches, tarts, scones, and finally desserts. It was all delicious though the desserts were surprisingly underwhelming. I guess something needed to underwhelm in this very overwhelming room. Though the tea is the thing to do there, the experience is more centered on the ambience. It truly is about absorbing the décor of this classic reconstructed room whilst the pianist worked his nimble fingers across the ivories.
My taste buds were particularly tickled by the fancy muffins with goat’s cheese that came with a pipette of tomato juice to squirt onto the treat.
Stepping out after tea onto Regent’s Street with all its advertising and impossibly good looking models staring down at you, I really did feel like I had spent the last few hours quite literally in another world. Don’t expect the food to blow your mind (though you will blow some cash) but the experience of it all will most certainly impress. Though like most sugar rushes, it wears off pretty quickly.
Top Tip: Keep your stomach empty and your wallet full.
Average price per person – £60
Address: The Oscar Wilde Bar, Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London.