Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Just My Cup of Tea; Marion McMullen Discovers That Everything Stops for Tea - Even amid the Non-Stop Whirl of London

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Just My Cup of Tea; Marion McMullen Discovers That Everything Stops for Tea - Even amid the Non-Stop Whirl of London

Article excerpt

Byline: Marion McMullen

COFFEE is my personal addiction, but it didn't take much persuasion to talk me into ditching the cappuccino and espresso for a special afternoon tea.

Forget the meat paste sandwiches and stale biscuits because this is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill tea-time spread.

Think of Downton Abbey with eager cook Mrs Patmore pulling out all the stops to impress the demanding Dowager Countess of Grantham and you have some idea of the tempting titbits on offer fit for an aristocrat.

A cuppa at the five-star Stafford Hotel in London comes served in delicate rose-patterned china cups and saucers with a tea menu that includes everything from Earl Grey and Darjeeling - "the champagne of teas" - to peppermint tea and rosehip tea.

And, yes, they even cater for coffee drinkers if that's your poison.

Everything is served up in style with individual tea pots and a little strainer to ensure your tea is perfect from first sip to last.

Such a wonderful tea service demands wonderful food and that's just what you get.

Nibbles of smoked salmon served on soda bread, cream cheese sandwiches, crayfish and meat sandwiches, award-winning cakes busting with chocolate and cream, slices of sponge cake made with a red wine filling and freshly baked scones with lashings of cream and jam. Outside the quiet luxury of the hotel London might be rushing around at a hectic pace, but at the tea table the only thing to worry about is if you should have a second, or even a third, mouthwatering scone.

You can even add a glass of Champagne if you want to take the experience to the next level.

If you feel the need to work off the calories later, the hotel boasts a gym or you can try out the nearby The Third Space fitness centre.

Or simply take things easy in the hotel's American Bar until it's time to add to the culinary feel of the weekend with a visit to the hotel restaurant to enjoy a meal on a par with the afternoon tea.

One of the hotel's best-kept secrets is the 380-year-old stone wine cellars in the depths of the building. It housed 10,000 bottles at one time and it is said there is a secret tunnel behind the walls that was used to supply wine to St James's Palace. …

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