Felicia Tan is a Malaysian living in London. She is a lifestyle blogger and covers a variety of topics including food, travel, and the things she loves in her life. Read more at her blog: Dancing in High Heels
You've all seen the ever Instagrammable igloos at Coppa Club and other restaurant venues alike, but did you know that the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kensington has their very own Secret Winter Garden, hidden away from the bustling crowds?
Tucked away in the back streets of Kensington are five pop-up winter domes, each named after an iconic singer from recent times, such as the likes of David Bowie, George Michael and Prince, in which our table was readily set for us to be served our afternoon tea. We were pretty lucky with the weather as well as a beautiful blue stretched across the skies above us, and the transparent walls gave us panoramic views of the calm surroundings.
Comfortably settled in our seats, with a trusty Dyson fan keeping us snug and cosy in our dome, glasses of champagne were promptly whisked over into our warmed up hands. From their selection of Novus award-winning teas, I ordered my standard preference of Organic Darjeeling, often referred to as "the champagne of teas", whilst Kaelie had the vibrant red Persian Pomegranate.
Not long after, our tier of afternoon tea treats were brought to us, alongside an unexpected, yet very much welcomed dish of pastries and the prettiest plate of freshly cut fruit. The pastries were really buttery and flaky, and the vibrant fruit platter definitely had me reminiscing about those much longed for exotic summer holidays.
There were three types of sandwiches which included a Langs Farm free range egg with wild cress on granary bread, the humble cucumber with sea salt, and black pepper butter on white bread, a classic favourite of Oak smoked Scottish salmon with dill cream cheese on whole grain bread, and a slice of rye bread topped with Wiltshire smoked ham and spiced tomato chutney. There was also a delectable bite-sized caramelised red onion and Somerset brie tart, and a moreish Umami duck spring roll - I am always partial towards additional savouries served alongside classic sandwiches.
Having devoured the first tier of savoury delights, we informed our server that we were ready for the scones - there's a buzzer in each dome which does come in handy! I really do appreciate venues that serve the scones separately and wish that more places practised this. I very seldom start with scones at the beginning and by the time I've finished with the sandwiches they tend to have turned cold. I loved the waft of butter as the scones were placed before us, and reaching out for a scone that is still warm to the touch is definitely one of my simple pleasures in life. The plain and raisin scones were served with a rich Cornish clotted cream and Tiptree strawberry jam.
I may have over-indulged in their delicious pastries beforehand, but that didn't stop me from tucking into the top tier of sweet bites. The pistachio and white chocolate cake was one of the first ones that caught my eye and was nice and moist, followed by an equally light blackberry and blueberry layered cake. I haven't had a mille-feuille in ages, and enjoyed the creaminess of the strawberry cream, contrasted by the crispy and light puff pastry. Last but not least was the rich and indulgent chocolate and walnut brownie which had crunchy bits of chocolate mixed in that added a nice texture.
As the sun began to set, additional multi-coloured lights started to light up in the domes and surrounding tables on the outdoor terrace, setting a different mood for the evening. We didn't stay on too late to experience the evening vibes, but I can definitely see those private domes as a great space to book a night out with some friends, or even a romantic dinner for two. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and one more to add to my list of recommended afternoon tea experiences.
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