“Hotels should be living things not stuffy institutions.” Tim and Kit Kemp
Afternoon Tea Week, an entire week dedicated to the quintessential British pastime of taking tea, is celebrated annually in August every year. As fans of this tradition, my friend and I decided to try the contemporary Ham Yard Hotel for our summer get together this year.
The Ham Yard Hotel, part of the Firmdale Hotel Group, is a modern boutique hotel designed by co-owner and creative director Kit Kemp MBE. It’s tucked away in the Ham Yard in the heart of Soho just a short stroll form Piccadilly tube station. Ham Yard is an ‘urban’ village, home not only to the hotel but also thirteen high-end shops offering everything from posh fragrances and skincare to glasses.
The award winning afternoon tea is served in the Ham Yard restaurant and bar located on the ground floor, a vibrant space filled with modern artwork and rugs hung behind glass that act as table dividers. The restaurant’s plush, rich coloured seating is offset by patterned wallpaper and different textiles along with statement lighting and eclectic art. The adjacent conservatory is a mix of colourful mismatched lighting, oversized mirrors and botanicals. An overall riot of colour that’s a feast for the eyes, in contrast the Wedgewood tea service also designed by Kemp, is delicate with simple designs, ours being a nautical theme.
The afternoon tea itself is very affordable by London standards, just £24 per person upgradable with a Summer Garden Fizz for £32 or add a choice of three different sparkling wines or champagnes. A variety of speciality teas and infusions were available (at an additional cost) such as Lapsang Souchong, Egyptian Chamomile or the unique Mythical Creatures tea, a blend created by Kemp herself. Simpler options such as breakfast and Earl Grey teas, coffee and hot chocolate were included in the price.
Displayed on a three tiered platter, the sweet and savoury selections were colourful and well presented much like the hotel itself. We had both the vegetarian and regular options, crustless finger sandwiches with tasty fillings such as coronation chicken, cucumber and cream cheese, salmon and the more unusual beetroot. A mini caprese skewer and refreshing gazpacho soup completed the savoury tier.
The scones were typically English, just what you want for afternoon tea, delicious, fresh, warm and light served with clotted cream and homemade preserves. Sweet treats included a delightful chocolate and raspberry profiterole, lime meringue tart, a more unusual coconut and mango macaron and a cherry and pistachio mousse. The menu changes regularly – click HERE to see the latest offerings. To accommodate the growing need of various dietary requirements, Ham Yard offers healthy afternoon teas that include reduced sugar, gluten free and vegan options upon request (mention at time of booking).
This was my first visit to a Firmdale Hotel and I was not disappointed. Ham Yard is part of Firmdale’s collection of boutique hotels in London and New York owned by acclaimed Interior designer Kemp and her husband Tim. From the moment you step into this trendy Soho establishment you are greeted with endless colour and statement design, a freethinking and bold combination of colour, pattern, art and sculpture. Kemp is not only an award winning interior designer but also a renowned textile, fragrance and homeware designer, author and supporter of British design.
The hotel is a mecca for London’s creative types and overseas visitors. It offers ninety-one rooms each with unique decor, a drawing room, library, rooftop terrace, spa, gym and more surprisingly, a theatre and a bowling alley. It’s popular and lively and been known to attract a celebrity or two, definitely worth a visit if you are in central London.
Ham Yard Hotel
Location: One Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT
Telephone: 020 3642 2000
Read more about Afternoon Tea in London HERE
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2019. All rights reserved. Additional photos used with courtesy of www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/ham-yard-hotel/