The closest hotel to Buckingham Palace, The Rubens at the Palace is the perfect location for any tourist looking to explore the surrounding areas. But this luxurious 4* hotel offers far more than just a bed for the night. On the ground floor's Palace Room, visitors and locals alike can relax and indulge in the old British tradition of Afternoon Tea.
The Rubens Scone menu (£19.50 pp):
Wholemeal, orange, honey & currant
White chocolate & lavender
Savoury cracked black pepper & parmesan Served with strawberry preserve & clotted cream
Both of these menus include your choice of tea varieties, including traditional, herbal and oriental. Beverages aren't limited to tea, however – coffee is also available. Alternatively, for those celebrating something special, add a glass of Champagne for £12.50 (bottle, £65) or a glass of Prosecco for £9.50 (bottle, £34). Tea cocktails, such as peach iced tea, are also available for an additional £8.50 each, or indulge in a Champagne cocktail, such as a Bellini or Kir Royal, for £15. There is also a list of regular cocktails from which to choose.
This wonderfully indulgent treat is not limited to adults – the Princes' and Princesses' Afternoon Tea selection means children aged 12 and under can also join in on the fun. Priced at £15.50 per person, kids can enjoy a scaled back version of The Rubens Summer Afternoon Tea menu, minus the alcohol of course.
While the Palace Room is snug, designed to seat around 40-50 guests, it has been decorated to its maximum potential. Neutral tones, mirrored pillars and floor-to-ceiling windows ensure the space feels roomy and well-lit, while the luxurious soft furnishings and opulent ornaments add an air of exclusivity and glamour.
Directly opposite The Rubens at the Palace is the Royal Mews – the combined stables, carriage house and garage of the British Royal family. So, if you are lucky enough to be given a window seat, sit back, feel yourself sink into one of the comfortable sofas, and watch the world go by. You will most likely catch a glimpse of some beautiful horses, a breathtaking carriage or a fancy car or two. On the down side, you will also have to put up with tourists, queuing for open top buses, hungrily peering through the window at your enticing nibbles.
The Rubens at the Palace is steeped in history and tradition, but head pastry chef Danielle Maupertuis has excelled in putting a twist on the classics. The chicken bridge roll, for example, is sinfully creamy with an unexpected hit of pepper, while the cucumber sandwiches are elevated with the addition of cream cheese. The miniature desserts are also full of surprises: éclairs filled with chocolate mousse, an intense burst of flavour from the macaroons, and the intricate detail on the delicate chocolate discs.
As well as the huge choice of drinks and great selection of delicious sweet and savoury treats, the friendly, attentive waitresses and buzzing location makes The Rubens at the Palace an ideal London venue in which to indulge in Afternoon Tea. Service is between 2pm and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, and from 1pm until 5pm on Saturday to Sunday.
2. St James's Park
Stroll through the oldest of London's eight royal parks, home to spectacular ceremonies such as Changing the Guard and Trooping the Colour, as well as the Queen Victoria Memorial and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk.