Me and afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel are well acquainted. I’ve been there countless times over the years. I first started going there, long before diagnosis, with an Australian friend. We loved a Saturday catch up together over delicious cakes and tea in the beautiful dark wood panelled English Tea room. Chatting away while deeply sunk into winged back arm chairs in front of a fireplace, cosseted against the wet, cold, rainy London winter is a memory of London I’ll long treasure.
Despite a mix up on one occasion when we served gluten-full, not gluten free sandwiches (always remain vigilant even when chatting too much!), whenever I’ve been asked where to go in London for gluten free afternoon tea, it’s always Brown’s Hotel that I’d recommend.
So I thought that it’s probably about time to write an updated version of my post from 2011 (er, wow, so long ago?!) based on the afternoon tea I enjoyed at Brown’s hotel in March 2017.
My dining companions on this occasion were Carly and Kelly.
They are both Coeliac so required the gluten free afternoon tea whilst mine also needed to be nut free as well as gluten free.
The regular, Traditional Afternoon Tea menu:
We were served the same selection of gluten free sandwiches as those listed on the Traditional menu, but on super soft gluten free bread.
Refills of sandwiches are offered and we partook. I know it’s weird, but I truly love the sandwiches at afternoon tea more than the cakes.
We were then served scones, with raisins, and strawberry jam and clotted cream. Look at this mighty gluten free scone!
A few crumbs on slicing but the scones were lovely and soft.
A nut free and gluten free afternoon tea seems to result in a higher than expected quota of mousse based sweet options for me. I honestly don’t mind so much – I’m definitely more of a sandwiches and scones kind of girl, than cake. My selection of gluten free and nut free cakes are on the bottom plate in the photo below:
If you’re gluten free and planning to visit Brown’s Hotel, you should be aware that a new menu has been introduced. The Tea-Tox afternoon tea has been devised by “nutritionist” Madeleine Shaw and was launched in January 2017. The menu for the Tea-Tox is:
Carly and Kelly had ordered the Traditional afternoon tea to be served gluten free. And whilst they were served gluten free sandwiches and scones, they were served the “cake” selection from the Tea-Tox afternoon tea. I don’t know if this was an error, although the waiter seemed a little taken aback when we pointed out that the classic (i.e., sugar-full) version had been ordered, so perhaps not an error.
We asked the waiter if Carly and Kelly could have the gluten / nut free version I’d enjoyed and they were served the same selection as I’d received:
In summary, if you’re looking for a gluten free afternoon tea offering raw brownies and less refined sugar, Brown’s Hotel can offer you this as an afternoon tea.
However, if you’re looking for a delicious gluten free (and nut free) afternoon tea in the elegant, classic English Tea Room within one of London’s most luxurious hotels, Brown’s Hotel can offer you this too. But I’d recommend clarifying at the time of booking what you will be served if you expecting to receive a regular selection of sugary cakes within your afternoon tea.
Raw fruit bars and chocolate dipped bananas do not make a gluten free afternoon tea in my view!
Location: Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BP
Website: Brown’s Hotel, London
Cost: Traditional and Tea-Tox Afternoon Teas are priced at £55 / person, or £65 with a glass of champagne. Service charge is added on top of this.
Would I come back?: Much as I’ve loved my afternoon teas here (and especially the company I’ve enjoyed it with!), I felt this time it was lacking in the something special I’ve enjoyed here in the past. I can’t put my finger on it….service was perhaps not up to usual scratch, perhaps the addition of the Tea-Tox (and potential for confusion to those with a medical reason not to consume gluten, rather than for lifestyle reasons) or maybe it’s that I’ve had my head truly turned by the gluten free afternoon tea I enjoyed at Claridges last Autumn. I’m sure I’ll be back, but perhaps I’ll be trying the afternoon teas at the Dorchester or the Langham hotels first.
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