Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Guiltless afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Park Lane

Yes you did read the title right- guiltless afternoon tea, this was a new one to me as well, and something I was very keen to find out all about, given afternoon tea typically entails three different carbohydrate courses and lots of sugar and indulgence in general!

The Intercontinental is situated on Park Lane in London, and before it was rebuilt in the 70s it was actually the childhood residence of the Queen for almost 10 years- how utterly glamorous! The glamour doesn't stop there either, this afternoon tea might be healthy but it really doesn't feel it, every bit of the experience feels decadent and luxurious, and you not for a second do you feel as though you're missing out.

I'll start from the beginning. The concept of this afternoon tea, as explained by our lovely and very informed waiter Luigi, is a post-Christmas, lighter alternative to the traditional Royal tea they serve in the lounge. Vegetarian, refined sugar free, mostly gluten free, and filled with ingredients selected for their nutritional composition, you can enjoy the experience of an afternoon tea without any of the guilt.

On arrival we were offered water and a delicious cocktail made from rum, fennel and lime, and sweetened with agave syrup rather than a sugar syrup, this was a cocktail with a kick! Now agave syrup isn't desperately low in carbs, but if you read this site because you're avoiding refined sugar, as I know many of you do, it's a perfect alternative.

Already feeling a little bit giddy from the cocktail we were then presented with one of the most extensive tea menus I have ever seen, many of which are exclusive to the hotel, I asked the waiter to choose for me, and he recommended the rose scented tea, made from soaked pink rosebuds. Following this, he paired each subsequent course with a new tea, each as lovely as the one before.

We started with the sandwiches, these are open sandwiches and as such, there is half the amount of bread, furthermore the bread which is there is gluten free. This was actually the first time I'd eaten gluten free bread, as I usually avoid bread, but when I do have it I like the proper stuff. I was a bit nervous about is, and had prepared myself to dislike it, and eat the toppings only. This wasn't the case, you really cannot tell it's gluten free, and with that, the sympathy I have always felt for coeliacs only being able to eat gluten free bread, was mostly depleted.

There was nettle marinated asparagus, rolled in ribbons of courgette, smoked aubergine with roasted piquilo pepper, thyme roasted butternut squash with balsamic caviar and basil marinated manouri cheese with cucumber and apple relish. Now as a cheese lover I am quite ashamed to say I hadn't even heard of manouri cheese before- it's much like halloumi, and very very yummy.

Once they were finished, the empty plate was whisked away and it was time for the scones. There were two types; wholemeal and white, and they were a much smaller affair than you would usually see, so if I hadn't already been feeling rather full, I might have been quite disappointed. As it happened we were both starting to feel full, both from the sandwiches and the tea, which we'd had about 3 cups of each by this point, but I'm not a quitter so we ploughed on.

The scones were served with creme fraiche and a winter berry compote, I was sure we'd miss the clotted cream, and of course if you're watching carbs, cream isn't a problem so you could have that, but we actually liked the creme fraiche and together with the compote, they tasted just like smaller versions of the real thing.

Finally, we finished with the cakes, we took a long break before embarking on these, during which they whipped me up another 'healthy' cocktail. They had presented me with a rather extensive cocktail list but also asked if I had any preferences, I asked for something refined sugar free and they promptly whisked me this beauty up which was sweetened only with some fresh fruit and agave. It doesn't have a name, but the mixologist told me it was made from gin, raspberry, passionfruit, lemon juice, orange juice and agave- delicious!

Almost simultaneously, they also bought us a new tea, this time an after-eight inspired tea that, as the name would suggest, tasted of chocolate and mint. The waiter even bought us the ingredients the tea was made from for us to smell.

There were four different cakes, a beetroot and apple cake (my least favourite- a little bit bland), a flourless chocolate and peppermint cake, a trifle with Greek yoghurt and berries and a tea mousse. with pears and pomegranate compote. The flourless chocolate and peppermint cake was the standout favourite, you don't miss the flour or sugar, I'd be happy to have four little squares of that alone next time!

 I had read on other blogs about the red velvet cake ball, but sadly this was not on offer when we went, not that we really missed it though as the cakes we did have were all delicious.

Finally, about 10 drinks and numerous sandwiches/ scones/ cakes later, he persuaded us to have one last tea, this time a delicious iced one. I was almost at capacity at this stage, and wasn't anticipating such a large glassful but we sat and enjoyed the view, people watching (my favourite pastime).

Me looking very antisocial- note to self, spend less time on my phone!

All in all, it's absolutely delicious alternative to the traditional afternoon tea. If I went again, I'd perhaps only have one scone and drink far less tea as we left uncomfortably full, and I say that as someone with a very very big appetite.

On the way out we spotted people enjoying a delicious looking brunch at the Cookbook Cafe which does a weekend brunch with unlimited Prosecco- all being well, I'll be there before too long so look out for that post!

The Guiltless Afternoon Tea is available until 1st May and costs £42 per person, it can be customised to be gluten free and dairy free as required.

Photo credit goes to Mr Vatkinary, you can see more of his photos here 

* Our lovely afternoon tea was complimentary


  1. Love love love everything about this post! It looks so classy- I would love to go, and so tempted to go with my mum and two sisters as they're all coming to London for my mums 60th in a few weeks! We went to the Savoy last year which was also so nice, you should go there next!
    Ella x

    1. Oh you really should! Hope you have a lovely time when they come X

  2. Great content and very appealing to the eye, stunning photos this venue had now made it on to my bucket list, great job👌.

    1. Thank you! It's a lovely lovely place! X

  3. Another beautiful post. I wish I lived in the uk, I would love to go! Lauren

    1. Thank you! Is Brits do tend to do afternoon tea well! X

  4. Everything looks so sweet, I admire this kind of life and the best wishes for you. Hope that we can communicate with each other. By the way, any body try this Free Photo Recovery Software?I think it is good.

  5. I love these photos- it looks so tasty and not healthy at all! I'm putting this on my very long list of places to go next time I visit London- hpoefully very soon!

  6. This looks amazing and can't believe it's a guiltless! Who knew?! Amazing post xx

  7. This looks absolutely incredible! I have been trying to find something like this for AGES. Definitely checking it out :) Beautiful pictures too. Immy x

  8. This looks absolutely incredible! I have been trying to find something like this for AGES. Definitely checking it out :) Beautiful pictures too. Immy x

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  10. All of this looks so good! My mouth is watering just sitting here reading about it and looking at the pictures. I am gluten free and seeing all this food is making me jealous! I like how all this food is healthier, but looks appetizing. Thank you for sharing!

    ~Andrea Tiffany~

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