Thursday, May 15, 2014

Afternoon Tea Inspired by Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at One Aldwych, London

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The novel details the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. For those of you who haven't read the book I'm sure you would have seen, or at least heard of, Tim Burton's film adaptation of the book in 2005 with Johnny Depp as the quirky Willy Wonka. In spite of the movie being almost a decade ago I still remember it being weird on every level (a good kind of weird). The stunning visual effects and witty scenes, the lovably sweet or humorously rotten characters coupled with dark humour made this dazzling movie an unforgettable one for me. So when I found out that I'll be having an afternoon tea inspired by the classic tale at One Aldwych I was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled.

My friend, Mijune, and I were so excited about tea we didn't even bother going up to our rooms after checking in at One Aldwych (Twitter: @OneAldwych, Facebook: One Aldwych). We had our bags sent up while we made our way to Indigo Restaurant, one of the two restaurants at the hotel. 

Our table right by the railing overlooks The Lobby Bar downstairs. 

Guests can choose either the standard Afternoon tea (£34.50) or Afternoon tea with a glass of Lallier Grande Réserve Champagne or a smoking Cocktail Charlie (£45.00). Mijune and I  opted for the Cocktail Charlie and boy, it was really something else. Brought over to the table with smoking dry ice furiously bubbling from a clear glass teapot, the cocktail is then poured into a tall and skinny martini-shaped glass. I loved the effect and presentation of this whimsical cocktail because it is a spot-on portrayal of the peculiar, bizarre story. Although the concoction resembled something more like a science experiment than a cocktail it was really delicious and easy to drink. What an awesome way to start afternoon tea!

Dalmore whisky mixed with Grand Marnier Cherry, chocolate bitters, grapefruit juice and cherry syrup. Topped with Champagne.

For our teas we chose "Jewelled Apple", a black tea with wild strawberry leaves, caramel and real apple pieces, and "Organic Lavender Grey", an organic Earl Grey with lavender from Provence. After a few sips we both preferred the Jewelled Apple over the Lavender Grey.

Cocktails, teas, sandwiches, tarts and quiches to begin the savoury part of our afternoon tea.

Roast beef and horseradish on onion bread
Cucumber and chive crème fraîche on wholemeal bread
Cured smoked salmon and lemon mayonnaise on rye bread

Heritage tomato tart
Leek and Stilton quiche

After our sandwiches and tarts we were served a basket of warm scones with plum jam, apple and meadowsweet compote, and Devonshire clotted cream. The pastry basket was accompanied by a very impressive "podium" of delicious sweets, the highlight of the tea service.

Golden egg with vanilla cheesecake and mango purée
Chocolate caramel milk
Eton mess
Homemade candyfloss
Blueberry brioche
Lemon crackle pops
Cocoa bean financier

This blueberry brioche was mind-blowing-ly tasty. I enjoyed it even more than the scones.

A cocktail to start and chocolate caramel milk to end afternoon tea. So clever. The kid in me wanted 10 of these (if not more). Even though the milk sounds insanely sweet it was perfect - think chocolate milk with just a hint of caramel. 

From the theatrical Cocktail Charlie, exquisite tarts and quiches, to the decadent golden eggs, blueberry brioche and playful flavoured candy floss, every item on One Aldwych's afternoon tea reflects the wit and wonder of Dahl's whimsical story. It was a beautiful and fantastical feast in a relaxed, casual setting and it is definitely the most memorable afternoon tea I've ever had to date. By the way if you're looking for an ultimate Charlie & The Chocolate Factory day out, One Aldwych offers a Tea & Ticket package where you can combine your afternoon tea with a ticket to see the musical.

Now a look at One Aldwych, an award-winning contemporary luxury hotel in the heart of London. Below is another shot of The Lobby Bar, this time at ground level. I really liked the statement pieces throughout the hotel such as these tall, black leather chairs, and the cute papier maché dog sculpture by reception. They really grab your attention 

Named one of the top five hotel bars in the world by the Sunday Telegraph, The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych offers serious cocktails and delectable bar food.

Right when you enter the hotel you may notice this very discreet door. It's a big "may" because most people, myself included, would think nothing of it. Oh, a handle? Must be a closet, or perhaps a storage space for "employees" only? Um, no. It's actually far from being a closet! Behind this hidden, camouflaged door is Lounge at One, a private guest-only lounge.

At a generous yet cozy 1,500 square feet, Lounge at One is fully serviced during the day with a changing menu of light dishes for breakfast, daytime and evening, along with wine, cocktails, soft drinks and hot beverages. The Lounge is open to to every overnight guest but not to the public.

Lounge at One features three distinctive sections. The first is bespoke furnished with cozy sofas. The middle media section offers guests a selection of iPads, daily newspapers and magazines as well as slender bookshelves housing a selection of the finest books by leading art and design publisher, Rizzoli, specially chosen by highly acclaimed British designer Paul Smith. The final and farthest area is perfect for relaxation and escaping the bustling city outside.

My room at One Aldwych is everything you would expect from a five star hotel and more. I especially appreciate the thoughtful touches such as the weather card (for the next day) placed on my pillow, the fresh fruit and sweets in the room.

The modern and contemporary design of the room extends to the bathroom. And yup, those are fresh flowers.

 Mist free mirror, power shower, mini television and soft bathrobes made my last night in London a very comfortable and relaxing one.

Before I go I want to emphasize the brilliant service at One Aldwych. I was waiting in the lobby for my ride to the airport early next morning and literally, within 5 seconds of sitting down, a hotel staff came over, greeted me and asked if I wanted anything to drink. Now that's attentive service! I ordered tea as I felt it was the right thing to do before leaving London :) 

Thank you for making my last day in London wonderful, One Aldwych. I couldn't have asked for a better hotel!

*Both the afternoon tea and accommodations were complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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