Perhaps one of London’s oldest best kept secrets, The Montague on the Gardens offers a luxurious afternoon tea in classic, kitsch surrounds.
London’s centrally located, charming micro-suburb of Bloomsbury begets its fame for being the home of Dickensian, Victorian, and contemporary era authors, artists, actors and scholars of yore, and is filled with whimsical charm and architecture. Today, though, even a blue-blooded through and through Londoner, let alone a visitor, would be foreign for perhaps not having the gorgeous, four-star Montague on The Gardens Hotel on their social radar. In fact, The Montague is known – but not too well known – for its chic decor, familial hospitality, and world class dining, so we descended the steps of the nearby British Museum with hopes of being whisked into the daydream of its old world charm – and for one of their delicious afternoon teas.
Unlike many more modern luxury hotels, upon entering the hallowed, plus carpeted atrium, one does rather feel transported, and transfixed, by the ornate portraiture on the walls, original wooden panelling, and crystal chandeliers, a theme which enthrallingly flows throughout the hotel and right through the leopard-print bar to the parlour, where our gorgeous host seated us for our service. In warmer weather, the Montague really stands out the gardens of its namesake, and diners can enjoy their tea looking out onto the private tranquil greens. Depending on what time of year of your visit, the Montague boasts a charming winter ski-lodge style bar, or, a summery tiki-hut bar serving luxury cocktails from coconuts.
Afernoon tea at The Montague comes with a very, very large glass of the finest golden Lanson champagne served in a very pretty glass, which was served to us immediately by an impeccably mannered waitress, who didn’t hesitate to take our dietary requirements and assure us that it would be the chef, Martin Halls’, pleasure to prepare one gluten free and one vegetarian service to suit.
Although the selection of tea isn’t the broadest we’ve seen, it was perfectly formed, and each brew came in its own baby-sized apothecary jar, giving a tactful nod to the hotel’s Victorian heritage, and came with a timer, so that we might know how long to brew the leaves for the perfect cuppa. We tried the Apple Elderflower and Sencha Green tea, which were exemplary, crisp, and refreshing, as well as being fun to prepare.
Feeling tiddly on the terrace, we busied ourselves imagining Liz Taylor would have chosen to have her afternoon tea in these glamorous surrounds – the classic glamour of the place is just so her – and was almost taken aback when our tea trays appeared in front of our eyes, laden with goodies. Realising we were, in fact, incredibly hungry, we were grateful to wolf (oh sorry, we mean ‘savour’) such delicacies as roasted pepper and avocado sliders, dainty egg and cress sandwiches on soft white bread, and a couple of cheesy pastries, and of course, a huge helping of fruity scones with buttery clotted cream and homemade raspberry jam. Despite the huge helpings, we were not shy to then move on to the hugely top-heavy cake tray, which was laden with cake pops, miniature apple crumbles, and a blueberry muffin and chocolate torte that was just so delectable we couldn’t believe it was gluten free – the chef must have been a magician.
We were so full, happy, and giggly, thanks to the chatty staff, that we didn’t realise that three hours had gone by, as the experience felt just as comfortable as being at home – although it was decidedly more glamorous than our homes!
The Montague on the Gardens is an absolute must for high quality food, fun, and five-star service and a gorgeous, glamorous invitation to experience a slice of secret London’s vintage glamour.