The Rubens at the Palace Hotel, London - Champagne Afternoon Tea, £28 + service (with an offer)
The Rubens Hotel is close to Buckingham Palace, and a short walk from Victoria station. We chose to go here for Honorary Tealady Dave's birthday. The afternoon tea lounge looks out onto the street with a big glass window, that's great for people-watching as you enjoy your tea. We happened to be there on the day of the London Marathon, and watched a lot of exhausted runners walk past after the race, while we calmly sipped champagne and ate cake.
The tea choice is a little limited and only covers the basics - 4 black teas, 1 green, 1 green jasmine, a chai and 4 herbal. Mo had the Signature Earl Grey; Caroline, the Traditional English; Dave chose the Mighty Assam; and Charlotte had the Darjeeling. The tea was all loose leaf and there was a good amount in each pot. They were all good quality and didn't get bitter towards the end, although the Earl Grey wasn't very perfumed (we seem to constantly have trouble with that). The pots were nice and large, and there were plenty of refills and pots of hot water. 23/30
There were 5 types of sandwich, with refills available - Egg and Cress, Smoked Salmon, Ham and Mustard, Cucumber and Cream Cheese and a Chicken Bridge Roll. They were all on different types of bread, although none of them were particularly special. They were all well-filled with good quality fillings and tasted very fresh. The cucumber was good, as it was thickly cut, so it wasn't drowned by the cream cheese but the Smoked salmon and Egg and Cress were our favourites. Overall, we all agreed these were probably the best sandwiches we've had - simple, traditional and done very well. 27/30
We were given two scones each, one plain and one fruit, of medium size with clotted cream and strawberry jam. We were pleased to see the clotted cream wasn't straight out of the fridge and was actually spreadable. The scones were brought wrapped in a napkin to keep warm but by the time we got to them there wasn't any warmth left. In general they were well-baked but a bit too doughy in texture and the fruit ones could have been fruitier. The jam and cream were both very good though. 24/10
We always have a problem with the cakes, as they always look amazing but don't live up to expectations. The cakes at Rubens were some of the most beautiful we've seen. We had a Rhubarb Trifle decorated with a Lychee Profiterole and a wafer cone filled with Passion fruit mousse, a Fruit Tart with Elderflower crème patissiere, a Cardamom cupcake with rose decoration and a Dark Chocolate box filled with Green Tea Pana Cotta and decorated with a miniature macaron of varying flavours. We particularly liked how they had managed to include as many types of petit fours as possible by using some of them as decorations. There was also a good range of flavours (although some could have been stronger) and on the whole everything was well made, although none of us liked the cupcake as it was too dense and dry. In spite of that, this is probably the first place where the cakes have been as good as they look. The passion fruit cone was particularly good, and the fruit tart had lovely pastry. 26.5/30
We spent two and a half hours at the Rubens enjoying our champagne afternoon tea. The atmosphere was calm and relaxing, and the service was excellent. We all agreed that this was one of the best afternoon teas we've had and at £28 this was excellent value for money. Even at the normal price of £45 (or £32.50 without champagne) we feel it is still good value. It doesn't have the reputation of some of the bigger hotels, but everything was done well and we'd have no hesitation in recommending it for a special occasion or a relaxing afternoon with friends. They also do a smaller version of their afternoon tea at £15 for children and if you're feeling like carrying on into the evening, there's a selection of Tea Cocktails.
Good, well-filled sandwiches Small selection of teas
Good value with the offer Erm....Scones were doughy
9 out of 10