Our most recent Afternoon Tea outing was to the delightful Savoy in October 2012.
This luxury hotel, located just off the Strand, set within its own small courtyard, oozes old fashioned glamour and Art Deco elegence. Above the entrance is a gilded statue of Count Peter of Savoy, Henry III's wife's uncle, who had the Savoy Palace built in 1263, on the site where the hotel is today. It was one of the finest houses in London until it burnt down during the Peasant's Revolt in 1381.
The Savoy Hotel was originally opened in 1889 adjacent to the Savoy Theatre, both of which were built for Richard D'Oyly Carte, the theatrical impresario who worked with Gilbert and Sullivan. The hotel was re-opened in October 2010 following a three years closure for a lavish £220m make-over.
We enjoyed afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer, a large spacious room with comfortable sofas and chairs. The centrepiece of the room is a grand piano where the resident pianist plays. The waitress who served us was attentive throughout our visit and the vegetarian request made at the time of booking had been duely noted.
Afternoon tea was beautifully presented on a tiered cake stand. On the bottom layer was Cornish clotted cream, homemade strawberry preserve and lemon curd. In the middle was a selection of finger sandwiches and on the top were plain and raisin scones. The lemon curd, although not traditionally served with scones, were a good combination together and extremely tasty. We were left to enjoy these delicacies and replenishments were offered.
Following on from this we were offered a tray full of beautifully presented pastries. It was a difficult choice as they all looked so delicious but I was delighted with the macaroon and the lavender éclair I had. To conclude we were offered the hotel's signature cakes, a choice of chocolate fudge cake, fruitcake and Victoria sponge cake. Overall the tea was delicious and beautifully presented.
Residing in the hotel's Front Hall is Kasper, known as the Savoy's 14th guest. The story starts in 1898 when Woolf Joel, a regular guest at the hotel, arranged to hold a dinner party there. On the day one of his guests cancelled at the last minute which resulted in thirteen guests at the table. During the dinner party the conversation got round to discussing superstitions about the number thirteen being considered to be unlucky. One belief is that at a table of thirteen the first person to leave would also be the first to die. Woolf was the first person to leave and laughed this off. A few weeks later the Savoy heard the sad news that Woolf had been shot dead in his Johannesburg office.
The hotel decided that if the occassion arose in the future that there were thirteen dinner guest then a member of staff would join them. However this proved to be awkward as the guests were unable to relax.
In the 1920s the hotel had a three foot high wooden cat made who would join any dinner party of thirteen. Christened Kasper he would be seated on a chair with a napkin tied round his neck and was served the whole meal, course after course. This tradition continues at the Savoy to this day.
More information about afternoon tea can be found on the Savoy's website here
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.