Care for a spot of tea during London Fashion Week?

posted on: Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I got a call from a very excited girlfriend on Thursday who had received word that Lulu Guinness was sponsoring a tea the Metropolitan Hotel in London for London Fashion Week.  Who doesn't love tea and cakes in the afternoon? If you don't, you aren't in my circle of friends. I decided to take my mother and best girlfriend along for this special tea at the Met Hotel for a little champers, tea and fashion themed sweets.  

When one thinks of high tea in London you can't help but think of classic establishments like the Ritz, Claridges or Browns.  I've been lucky enough to take tea at each of these locations and each has been unique, lovely and entirely memorable for all the right reasons.  Well I wish I could say the same for the tea that was put on by the Metropolitan Hotel.  The word "shifty" comes to mind...

Upon arrival we were told that groups of three were not being seated in the Met Bar, but rather in the Lobby area. Well, that struck me as very strange, indeed. Although I was glad not to be shoved in the tiny Met Bar tables, the Lobby was not exactly the right environment for afternoon tea. In fact it felt quite clinical and unfriendly. The waitress, who spoke enough English to get by, asked us if we would like to indulge in a glass of champagne to start our afternoon. Sure, why not?  The bubbly arrived and we sipped our champagne as we enjoyed the pleasure of one another's company.  The cakes came soon after.

I'm not quite sure how to describe what was put on our table for nibbles. So I'm just going to jump in here. The cakes on the top shelf were gorgeous. Lipstick shaped and iced cookies, cupcakes with chocolate purse embellishments and glittery candy lips sat on either side of two rich chocolate macaroons.  If you only ate from the top shelf you would have been full enough.  The bottom shelf left us all scratching our heads a bit. Four glasses, sat below the sweets, with Salmon and some green stuff, Roast beef and some more green stuff, rhubarb soaked in syrup and, well, actually I've forgotten what the fourth glass was. My two guests sampled the pureed-like arrangements.  One said that it was a refreshing taste, the other turned her nose up completely. So we were at odds on that particular course in the afternoon.  The scones were delicious and fluffy - apparently due to their special potato flour which makes them light and airy as well as low in calories.  

We did all agree on one thing when it came to the tea - there was no branding from the grand marketing machine that is Lulu Guinness. You would think if she is contributing her name to a tea you would see more than a pair of silvery lips on a cupcake which may or may not be a link to her brand. I would have hoped for Lulu Guinness napkins or a trademarked candy on a cupcake....maybe even a small LG somewhere in the classic cursive writing....but nada....not one reference to the brand. What has happened there exactly?  We'd be very interested to know so if anyone has the gossip please pass it on!

The afternoon was mostly about the company of two women I love and adore but it always helps to have a great surrounding atmosphere and nice nibbles to go along with it. When we received the check we also had a nice little surprise. Keeping in mind that I am an American living in London I am used to people trying to swindle money out of me, thinking that I wouldn't know any better.  I have had to tell more than one taxi driver here that I am not about to pay him to take me on a tour of London! So when the check was placed on the table I was shocked to find that when we agreed to the champagne we also, apparently, agreed to take some of the finest bubbles they had available in the bar...we got nicely fleeced. Veuve Clicquot or Moet would have been sufficient enough for us as our main objective for the afternoon was not to enjoy the bubbly stuff. They should have actually brought out a menu, which is actually what we thought they would do rather than bringing three full glasses to the table with no indication of what we were drinking. The cheque certainly did not end the afternoon on the high note I had hoped for.

Would I recommend this tea to another fashionista in town for fashion week? Absolutely not. In fact I was asked this morning where I would recommend for tea....and my reply? ....."Darling, take your tea with the civilised individuals in this wonderful city. Go to the Ritz or Claridges. Stay clear of the trendy hotels that attempt to capitalise on a grand British tradition."