The Guardsman: Afternoon Tea

More familiar with our usual central and north London stomping grounds, it is only while making our way to St James’s Park to enjoy the floral tributes left for Her Majesty that we stumble across The Guardsman, a small luxury boutique hotel on Buckingham Gate.

With the Queen very much on our minds, we decide that it is the perfect spot to stop and raise a toast to her memory. In fact, once inside we’re tempted to upgrade our glass of bubbles to a Champagne afternoon tea, which looks too good to resist (it is only fitting, we justify our decision, having read that the late Royal was fond of a teatime treat herself). The restaurant here might be subterranean, but it is flooded with autumn sunshine thanks to a striking lightwell above the staircase. Calm and refined, with shelves of books and curios lining the walls, it has the feeling of a private library, more akin to a members’ club than a hotel.

Bubbles in hand, we peruse the menu; the food might be decided, but where the teas are concerned there’s plenty to choose from. All organic, some of the Canton teas on offer are biodynamic, and, fascinatingly, some come from abandoned tea farms where the plants now grow wild. The pastries are inspired by the flora and fauna of the Royal Parks that are on the hotel’s doorstep – there’s an adorable toadstool shaped strawberry mousse topped with a sugar butterfly, the chocolate ganache is piped in the shape of a rose, and the carrot cake is styled as a potted carrot plant. It takes all our restraint to hold off on these until we’ve eaten the savouries.

Guardsman Hotel Afternoon Tea

We’re glad we do, though – these are not to be missed: exquisite Burford Brown egg on Turmeric loaf, tangy smoked salmon and cream cheese on sourdough and a delicious truffled chicken mayonnaise. And the patisserie items are all the sweeter for the wait. We’re mindful to leave room for the freshly baked scones, which come in both fruit and plain varieties, served warm with rich clotted cream and strawberry and raspberry jam. It has been an utterly indulgent afternoon – we couldn’t be happier to have stumbled across The Guardsman. We will be back.

£45 per person. 1 Vandon Street, SW1H (020 7309 9200;