St Ermin’s Hotel is one of our favourite places to stay in London with kids. Not only is the luxury hotel family-friendly, but it’s also boasts a fascinating espionage history full of intrigue and mystery. It’s also home to one of the best afternoon teas for kids in London.
The central London hotel is located in the heart of Westminster by St James’s Park and within walking distance to some of the city’s most popular sights including Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. The Mall, one of London’s most famous streets, is also a short walk away.
During the 1930s and through WWII it became a meeting place for the British Intelligence services; MI6 were stationed on the second floor and Winston Churchill held wartime meetings. The Caxton Bar (and Caxton Grill) were regularly used by MI5 officers to meet their agents. Rumour has it that there’s even a tunnel that runs from underneath the hotel’s grand staircase to the Houses of Parliament.
Today the elegant hotel is a delightful place to stay and the stylish surroundings suggest little of its political past; the lobby is particularly impressive, finished in ornate original Rococo plasterwork.
Disclosure: We were hosted by St Ermin’s Hotel for the purpose of this review. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
Afternoon tea, a very British experience
The Brits having been enjoying tea and cake ever since the 1840s when the Duchess of Bedford decided that there were far too many hours to fill between lunch and dinner. She began ordering a tray of tea, bread and butter, and cake to be brought to her room and this mid-afternoon snack quickly became a fashionable occasion, attended by ladies of high society.
Today there are lots of places in London where you can enjoy this quintessentially British experience, including lots of venues offering themed afternoon teas for kids such as the excellent St. Ermin’s afternoon tea experience.
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Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel
We were invited to enjoy afternoon tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The tea lounge is located on a mezzanine level above the lobby area and is both cosy and elegant with comfortable armchairs upholstered in yellow and pressed white linen tablecloths on the tables. It’s the perfect place to come if you want to celebrate a special occasion – or if you just want to treat yourself!
Afternoon tea can also be served in the hotel library and on the terrace (if the weather cooperates!).
There are two menus to choose from at the St Ermin’s Afternoon Tea experience, one for adults and one specially designed for children. The children’s menu in particular does change, particularly for special events such as Christmas and Easter.
All we had to do was choose whether or not we wanted a glass of champagne (we did!) and which tea we wanted. All the teas are from Tea Makers of London; between us we tried the Vanilla Rooibos, Darjeeling and Lapsang Souchong teas. Sam was offered a choice of juices, tea or hot chocolate.
The St Ermin’s afternoon tea uses seasonal ingredients and as much of the hotel’s own produce as possible – the hotel has their own kitchen garden on the rooftop.
The adults’ tea was presented on a pretty three-tier cake stand, each tiered plate holding one course. We enjoyed a selection of finger sandwiches with five different fillings including coronation chicken; smoked salmon and cream cheese; honey roast ham and tomato chutney; crayfish, chilli, spring onion and coriander; and grilled courgette, mint and creme fraiche.
We also enjoyed a range of sweet treats that included a delicious white chocolate and Baileys cheesecake, a pomegranate and almond Bakewell tart, and my favourite, the hazelnut praline and passion fruit mousse.
Freshly baked plain scones and fruit scones followed served with homemade jam and thick clotted cream.
Kids afternoon tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel
The kids afternoon tea menu has been designed specifically for young guests with a bee theme, to celebrate the hotel’s very own bee hotel. It’s well worth heading up to the hotel’s third floor where 350,000 bees are busy making honey on an outdoor terrace. You might even spot the hotel’s very own beekeeper tending to the hives. But don’t worry, the bee hotel is behind glass so you can watch them buzz about safely!
For children, the afternoon tea also comes with a selection of sandwiches but with different fillings. Sam enjoyed sandwiches filled with honey roast ham, cheddar cheese, and tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise.
Sweet treats on the children’s menu include a white chocolate and orange mousse, a vanilla cupcake with buttercream icing (which was a big hit!) and a chocolate bee hive with milk chocolate bee and biscuit. Kids also get to enjoy warm scones as part of their tea experience.
The children’s afternoon tea is a great option if you are visiting with younger children. If you have hungry tweens (and teens) then you will want to order an adult’s tea menu.
We were well looked after by the friendly staff and spent a really enjoyable couple of hours eating and drinking. Once we felt that we couldn’t possibly eat one more cake and the basket of scones had been reduced to crumbs, it was time to go home.
If you are looking for an afternoon tea experience in London then this really is one of the most enjoyable. We can’t wait to go back!
Where: St. Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton St, London SW1H 0QW.
Nearest underground station: St James’s Park
When: Afternoon Tea is served in the Tea Lounge, library and outdoor terrace (weather permitting), Wednesday – Sunday between 12noon – 5:00pm. Reservations recommended.
A Children’s tea is available on request throughout the school holidays and every weekend.
Cost: Adult afternoon tea £38pp or £43pp with a glass of Lanson Champagne. Children’s afternoon tea £22 per child.