It is thrilling to take afternoon tea in the hotel’s Drawing Room with its cosy fire surrounded by original paintings by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and curtains, textiles and painted furniture from Roger Fry's Omega workshop, which was also based in Bloomsbury. It really did feel as if we were at a rather refined salon and it inspired us to discuss our favourite current novels too. We could almost fancy Virginia Woolf just might have been eavesdropping. Do come dressed up, as it is a fabulously genteel place for tea.
If the drawing room is full, there's seating in Oscar's Bar and Restaurant. Here there's a hand-painted mural by Alexander Hollweg that nods to Duncan Grant's original mural of elegant ladies coming out of a London Underground station in the early 1900s, updated to include The London Eye and people on mobile phones,
We started with a citrusy, delicately spiced Oscar Gin Gimlet made with a bespoke Oscar's gin,developed specially for the occasion with local micro-distillery, Bloomsbury. Served with homemade ginger, thyme and lime cordial, it makes a delightful accompaniment to tea.
Tea is served on tiered 'Mythical Beast' Wedgwood plates designed by Kit Kemp, owner and design director of Charlotte Street Hotel and all the Firmdale hotels. She has used the Bloomsbury Set's work as her starting point throughout the hotel, decorating in a Bloomsbury colour palette. We relished the anecdotal stories behind how historical recipes from 'The Bloomsbury Cook - Recipes for Life, Love and Art' by Jans Ondantje Rolls have been brought to life by chef Bradd Johns to reflect the Set's favourite tea-time treats.
Standout dishes were: an utterly moreish crab Bloody Mary Melba Toast inspired by Duncan Grant's love for the drink; Croque monsieur favoured by English writer and Francophile Frances Partridge; eccles cake considered the perfect sustenance for writing by Leonard and Virginia Woolf; and Clive Bell's chocolate layer cake, a reference to his 'gargantuan appetite for chocolate.' Irresistible too is 'monolithic Battenberg' a reference to Thoby Stephen, brother to Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf who was said to be 'monolithic' in the way he did everything; from the way he spoke to the way he laughed – and even the way he sliced a cake.
Virginia Woolf famously said 'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.' The Bloomsbury Set Afternoon tea strikes us as the perfect way to fulfil this mantra.
The Bloomsbury Set Afternoon Tea costs £26 per person & £39 per person to include an Oscar Gimlet.
|What||The Bloomsbury Set Afternoon Tea at Charlotte Street Hotel|
|Where||Charlotte Street Hotel, 15-17 Charlotte Street, London , W1T 1RJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Goodge Street (underground)|
02 Oct 17 – 16 Sep 18, 2nd October – 13th November 8th January - 9th February 3rd April – 18th May 6th August – 16th September 1.30pm - 6pm
|Website||Click here to book|