Do you like tea? Do you like musicals? Do you like pretending to be posh when in fact you’re more common than a cold? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you’ll love the Marriot Hotel’s brand new event: Sing-A-Longa Afternoon Tea. This primarily involves drinking copious amounts of fancy tea, scoffing scrummy scones (love a bit of alliteration!) and being serenaded by glamorous looking hostess who looks like she stepped straight off Broadway.
This event offered something different from all the other Hotels/restaurants/cafes offering fancy afternoon tea, in the fact that you get to sing along to songs from well-known musicals and films. And whilst I looked forward to belting out a show tune or two, my +1 was a little more nervous (OK, he was dreading it!) But as we were shown our seats at an elaborately dressed round table and allowed to peruse the menu of fine teas, he started to relax a little. As our hostess Clara introduced herself in such a splendid fashion, the fun began…
Tempting our pallets was a fine array of crust- less sandwiches which consisted of fillings such as Roasted Angus beef and horseradish, Wiltshire ham and English mustard and Burford brown eggs and mayonnaise. Whilst the fillings sounded fabulous, my companion commented that they were in fact fancy names to disguise average sandwiches. He added that the Wiltshire ham and English mustard tasted like one you could get at a supermarket. However, one of my sandwiches which were a concoction of beetroot and goat’s cheese tasted lovely, and the combination of the sweet beetroot and creamy, nutty goat’s cheese did wonders for my taste buds.
No afternoon tea would be complete without scones with jam and clotted cream, and this one didn’t disappoint. Alongside the sweet scones, with this particular selection being orange crusted and golden raisin scones, there was also a Montgomery cheddar and Hampshire watercress scone to tempt the savoury taste buds. This scone had a sour cream and chive spread to accompany it instead of the jam and cream. However, my companion accidently put jam and cream on his savoury scone and said that it was “a bit of alright”, so if you wish to push the boat out and live on the wild side, then by all means- mix away!
Finally, to round things off there was a charming selection of pretty, miniature cakes and pastries to choose from. Mixed spice vanilla and syrup cakes were accompanied by delightful raspberry tarts and rhubarb and custard served in a shot glass. And whilst both me and my +1 found the Valrhona 70% chocolate and almond domes a little too rich and overwhelming, we loved the coconut and mango friandes which tasted like “little drops of heaven!”
Now the tea was not your average PG Tips, oh no! We were treated to Twinings extra special, super fancy, finest blend tea. There was quite a selection to choose from; there were well known teas like Traditional Afternoon, Signature Earl Grey and Darjeeling to more unusual types such as Rooibos orange and cinnamon, Assam 2nd flush and Tisane.
I chose the blackcurrant and lavender which was refreshingly fruity and had a lovely aftertaste of lavender which wasn’t too powerful. My companion opted for the Lapsong Souchong tea which in its description said that it had a smoky flavour which was created by the leaves being laid out on bamboo trays and then smoked using pinewood. He said that he loved the strong smoky flavour, but upon tasting it, I thought it was horrible as it tasted like tobacco. I wondered if it was because he’s a smoker and I’m not, he disagreed. We agreed to disagree (or not).
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. But then after a few glasses of champagne (there was an endless supply of this as well btw), we really got into it. Anyone who is an avid theatre goer/film watcher would have known most of the songs; All that jazz, Gold finger and Wouldn’t it be lovely for example are songs that are familiar to a lot of people. However, for those who didn’t know the tune of songs such as Blue Moon and Can’t help but lovin’ dat man, this was ample opportunity to scoff another scone or two in their mouths!
The hostess Clara put everyone at ease by giving a brief intro to the songs and also did a few practice runs before things got properly started. The fact that she was sassy, friendly and warm allowed us to be more comfortable than if there was a stuffy, unresponsive host. Clara, who had dressed up to the nines for the occasion, made sure that everyone was included and even surprised a few by giving them the microphone and letting them sing a line!
Once everyone had relaxed, the whole room was soon putting their heart and soul into the songs. At one point a guy at our table got so into it that he seemed to be channelling Madonna herself during a particularly emotionally charged version of Don’t cry for me Argentina, belting out the lyrics with gusto! You go boy!
I thoroughly enjoyed this! As someone who loves tea and musicals, this was a perfect combination of the two. The food was amazing, the setting (the hotel’s historic Library Lounge) was lovely and we had such an awesome view of the River Thames, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. My only criticism would be that not all of the songs were well-known enough, so perhaps this is something that can be worked on so.
Sing-A-Longa afternoon tea is so unique and has the potential to expand into something bigger- I’m thinking Christmas specials, Disney songs, Valentine’s Day; the possibilities are endless! It’s perfect for birthdays, Mother’s day and hen parties, but gentlemen if you think that it’s just for girls, think again! My male companion was still humming All that Jazz for ages afterwards!
The Sing-A-Longa afternoon tea experience kicks off in October with 3 dates to start with- 7th, 14th and 21st of October 2013.
Afternoon tea is served daily at 2.30pm and 4.30pm with traditional afternoon tea costing £32 and champagne afternoon tea costing £38.
London Marriot Hotel County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
44 207 928 5200