There’s not much I enjoy more than catching up with friends over tea and cake. Which is probably why going for an afternoon or cream tea is usually always my first suggestion when friends or colleagues suggest a get together (even more so now I’m in tee total mode).
In fact, I’d say almost every time me and the lovely Danielle meet up, there’s usually some sort of cake affair involved (we just love it!). Of course, living in London for so long, meant that there weren’t many afternoon tea offerings I hadn’t tried before, and having been to so many, it can often be difficult to find something new, something different, something that can still excite.
But, when I got invited to a ‘Mum to Be’ afternoon tea at The Arch Hotel in London, I knew this was one type of cake format I definitely hadn’t been privy to before. After a few months of feeling pants in early pregnancy and avoiding all contact with friends for fear of letting slip the secret, I was more than ready to dress up my teeny tiny baby bump and enjoy an afternoon of natter and giggles over alcohol free cocktails and caffeine free tea (rock n roll). I knew exactly who to bring along, and Danielle and I had such a great afternoon talking blogging, business, babies and new ventures that we ended up being in our little booth at The Arch for far longer than we’d planned, accidentally missing calls from our husbands and realising we’d skipped right past dinner time without even noticing.
But first things first – the hotel. The Arch is yet another extremely suave London abode smack bang in the centre of the city with an address that’s just a short meander behind Marble Arch station. You can enjoy afternoon tea in their Martini Library (complete with stone fireplace, leather armchairs and full to the brim bookshelves), the lounge space or the stylish Hunter 486 restaurant (which we were in). A modern yet relaxing dining area, which is also where evening meals are served I believe, it had a quirky open kitchen in the middle which was a nice feature. We were given one of the corner booths for our get together, which couldn’t have been more perfect really. We were tucked in to a cute round leather booth and even given privacy with the addition of a mesh curtain which pulled around our area, shutting out the rest of the restaurant and giving way to our own little space. A great idea for a private party (although they do also have separate rooms you can hire out for a larger baby shower) to allow you a little privacy from other guests, although probably what was to blame for Danielle and I losing 4 plus hours of the day without noticing the time and only emerging from behind that curtain once the restaurant was empty and the sky outside was dark – oops.
We kicked things off with a tasty mocktail while we waited for our afternoon tea to be prepared and this berry blend was so good I could have happily drunk those all night at a party and not felt at all left out from the drinking game. One of my favourite things about the set up at The Arch was the gorgeous crockery that the food and drinks came on. Danielle and I are both crockery addicts and one of the things we always look out for in an afternoon tea is cute teacups (sad I know, but personally I think it’s those little touches that make the experience that bit more special). The Arch served everything on these adorable Wedgewood pink and blue floral design pieces, which I really, really wanted to pack in my handbag and take home with me.
As Danielle opted for veggie and I’m preggo, we had a slightly altered version of the normal menu and I think combined a couple of the hotels’ afternoon tea offerings. This would be my only small criticism really, as despite being ‘Mum to Be’ menu and tailored for baby showers, there was actually quite a few things on the menu that weren’t suitable for me in my pregnant state, such as goats cheese in some of the sandwiches, homemade mayonnaise, and blue cheese straws. Obviously eating in such a reputable place, the risk is very low and you’d probably be absolutely fine to dismiss the rules as a one off, but pregnancy can be an anxious time with the slightest little things causing great worry and most may prefer not to take the risk. I think if you were coming to your own baby shower you’d probably like to just sit back and know you could munch away on everything without worry rather than having to be that awkward person who has to ask for things to be altered.
Having said that, the staff were brilliant, very accommodating and happily adapted the menu slightly to give us three tiers of delicious food we could both dig into happily. I particularly enjoyed the open sandwiches with roasted veg (such a nice alternative to the usual format), the ham and picalilli triangles (delicious combo) and of course the fruit scones which were served warm with jam and cream. The top tier was a feast of chocolate covered strawberries, battenburg, macarons and the cutest gingerbread man topped chocolate orange tea cakes which were almost too delightful to eat.
The staff were friendly and attentive and had that perfect mix of keeping us well tended to, while also recognising when to leave us alone to eat and natter. The setting itself was warm and relaxed, we weren’t in any way rushed (quite the opposite in fact) and barely even registered anything else going on around us in the hotel.
For my first proper outing after the zombie phase of the first trimester, The Arch was a rather luxurious one! To find out more about the afternoon tea offerings, hop over to the The Arch website, and prices start from £25 per person.
The Arch London
50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch
* Please note – I was a guest of The Arch London in order to write this review but as always the opinions are all my own! *