51 Buckingham Gate
The vibe If 2012 was the year of the Jubilee and the Olympics, 2013 is the year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s actual coronation. One of the best ways to celebrate is by treating yourself to the 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea at 51 Buckingham Gate. Literally round the corner from Buckingham Palace, 51 Buckingham Gate is one of those hotels that’s so discreet you’d hardly know it was there and that suits its guests just fine (Claudia Schiffer lived there while her house was being renovated).
The food The hotel may be discreet but the 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea is a party on a plate. And in a glass too. Each glass of gold leaf-infused Luxor champagne is a riot of dancing bubbles and flecks of gold leaf (you can drink actual tea too, of course). Our picks of the savoury dishes include the cucumber and Cornish yarg sandwiches and the smoked salmon pinwheels. But it’s the cakes and pastries that astound: opera cake is made from chocolate instead of almonds, and decorated with gold leaf; strawberry tartlets are also decorated with gold leaf and tiny (edible) ‘pearl’ drops; white chocolate delights (which look remarkably like capezzoli di venere) are decorated with edible white-chocolate leaves and more of those pretty pearls; macaroons with lemon mousseline under a spun-sugar ‘cage’; and beyond-divine champagne and gold leaf jelly, which, served in a shot glass, looks just like the gold-flecked Luxor. Even the place settings, from cutlery to crockery, are tipped with gold. It all feels very decadent but it’s delicious too. As for the setting, when the weather is good you can take tea in The Courtyard at 51 (pictured); failing that in The Library at 51 or the buzzier Hamptons Bar. You probably won’t need supper afterwards.
The details The 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea costs £99 for two people, including a half bottle of Luxor gold leaf champagne. Served in The Library at 51, The Hamptons Bar, and (weather permitting) The Courtyard at 51. Available until 31 December 2013. Bookings require 24-hours’ notice. To book call 020 7769 7766. Visit 51-buckinghamgate.com