Afternoon Tea At Sketch, London – A Pink Lover’s Paradise!
The British tradition of afternoon tea is a must when visiting the city of London. With so many options it’s hard to pick just one. While there are many places in London that offer a more conventional experience, many places have been creating a more modern take on the tradition. Sketch London puts their very own creative spin on afternoon tea. Admittedly, I wanted to experience their afternoon tea based on the interior of the room – like so many others on Instagram. But that shouldn’t be the only reason you visit!
Last year I returned home to London for the first time in three years. I’d missed my city SO much and had my heart set on experiencing somewhere new for Afternoon Tea. After seeing a post on Facebook I made the decision to book a reservation at Sketch London. Like most people, it was the interior that first attracted me. I took my mum with me, she’d never heard of the place, but I knew she’d love it too.
How To Get To Sketch London
Sketch is located in the Mayfair neighbourhood of London. The nearest London tube station will be Oxford Circus, but if you’re in the general vicinity walking there is just as easy! Located on Conduit Street, Sketch is easily accessible from Regent Street and Oxford Street.
From One World To Another
While Sketch London offers a unique array of dining experiences, it’s their famous afternoon tea that takes the spotlight. Set in the former building of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the eccentric interior pays homage to it’s creative past. Upon arriving at Sketch, the exterior is rather normal in comparison, blending in with neighbouring buildings. Upon entering you are greeted by a hopscotch and paint spilling down a stairway. The entrance is just a snippet of what lies ahead. Every room different from the next, it’s almost like stepping from one world to another.
Checking In To Sketch London’s Afternoon Tea
The gallery is quite simply a pink paradise. With over 200 original pieces of art work by David Shrigley adorning the walls, their black and white visuals create a stark contrast against the monochromatic backdrop. The bar was reminiscent of the 1920’s, I couldn’t help but think of Lloyd the bartender from the shining (Just me? Okay, just me.)
We were greeted by several staff members upon entering, everyone was just lovely. Just opposite the coat check was a display of all the ceramic ware designed by David Shrigly that they use for their Afternoon Tea experience. This is all available to purchase! I was very tempted, but I already have 3 tea sets I’ve never used – I figured I’d have some will power for once! We were a few minutes late but they still managed seat us straight away!
I’d read zero reviews of Sketch before visiting. I simply saw a beautiful pink room and said “yes!”. Therefore I had zero expectations. However I was pleasantly surprised. We didn’t get an overview of the tea menu, but our server was more than happy to explain the menu to us and answer any questions we had. I opted for the “First Romance” black tea, which Sketch describes as “Confetti in a cup”. Don’t let the description put you off, it certainly has a floral taste but it’s more like a subtle sweetness.
It was only after reading online later that I realised they usually bring the tea cart for you to sample the aromas. We didn’t get this, and honestly it didn’t ruin the experience at all. It would have been a nice added extra, but in no way would it have majorly enhanced my experience.
4 Courses Of Pure Decadence
The first course was a weird looking egg (definitely “unique” looking) It was more like a mousse than a boiled egg, and it was served with cheese sticks as soldiers – but it was good! Weird, but good. For anyone who’s not from the UK we call a soft boiled egg and bread cut into slices “Egg & Soldiers”. I’m sure that alone is weird for non-British people. I’ve never been served egg and soldiers at an afternoon tea before, so this was definitely new for me and fits in perfectly with Sketch’s British quirkiness.
After the first course of “egg & Soldiers” arrives, we were approached by a man in pink suit – it’s your Caviar Man! We were given mother of pearl spoons with a serving of caviar. Again I’ve never had caviar with afternoon tea – so this was a surprise! This was only my second time trying caviar. I felt like an expert explaining to my mum that it’s served on a mother of pearl spoon as stainless steel tarnishes the taste. (A snippet of info I learned while dining at Victoria and Alberts in Walt Disney World this previous year)
Next is the most anticipated course – the tower of goodies! The part I was most looking forward to. The tower featured the following:
- Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwich (The best!)
- Smoked Salmon and Jacob’s Cream
- Foie Gras Tartlet (not the best thing on the stand)
- Cucumber and Ricotta
- Pistachio Choux Bun
- Chocolate Battenburg Cake
- Salted Caramel Eclair
- Raspberry Marshmallow
- Citrus and Raspberry Cake
I must admit I wasn’t a fan of the marshmallow, it was definitely different but not my thing. The Foie Gras tartlet was just okay (not a fan of Foie Gras in general, but I figured I’d at least try it) The pistachio choux bun was the best thing on the menu – mmmm!
The great part about this afternoon tea is that you can order extra sandwiches (or other items) at no extra cost if you wish. We asked for some extra coronation chicken as it was a-mazing! The tea is also re-fillable at no extra cost, if you wish to switch to a different type or flavour of tea, just let your server know and they will happily make you another brew.
Make sure you don’t fill up on extra sandwiches though, because there’s still two more courses to come. Freshly baked warm scones with clotted cream and a mix of preserves were next – there’s no other way to describe them than “mmmmm”. Scones are quintessentially English, and no afternoon tea would be complete without them, but these were some of the best I’ve had!
By this point I was feeling incredibly full – but I’d been eyeing up the freshly sliced Victoria Sponge cake on the way in and knew I’d have to try it. (Yes, that’s right, I’m not done with the cake yet!) I did my best but unfortunately the last piece of cake had defeated me. I took the remainder to go in the cutest pink Sketch paper bag.
Although the pink gallery was full of people when we arrived, I didn’t feel rushed during any part of my experience here. It was definitely one of the lengthier Afternoon Tea’s I have experienced in London. It must have been close to two hours in total.
Before heading out to see the rest of London, make sure you pop by the bathrooms. They are very different to the rest of Sketch but just as weird and wonderful. The “pod” toilets are like nothing I have seen anywhere else. Unique to say the least!
If you enjoyed any of the teas you sampled during your Afternoon Tea at Sketch, you can wander into the East India Company next door and purchase some of them. I brought home a loose leaf blend of “First Romance” and can now relive my tea experience right here in Canada!
Why Choose Sketch Over Other Afternoon Tea Experiences?
So, why should you do Sketch over other Afternoon Teas in London? Most people see the decadent interior of Sketch and are immediately wowed by it’s pink splendour. I mean, who wouldn’t want to experience this gallery in all it’s glory? But that doesn’t mean you should choose a place simply because it is “Instagrammable” – that’s just a plus!
The thing that makes Sketch stand out from the crowd is not only it’s uniqueness but it’s fantastic service, lovely staff and amazing selection of sweets and savouries. The tea was amazing – better than many afternoon teas I’ve been to, and I left rolling out of there!
It’s hard to find a “cheap” afternoon tea in London – you’ll be paying between £40 and £65. But in my experience the price (usually) reflects the service and quality. At £59 per person Sketch is by no means “cheap” but it is the average price in London for afternoon tea. And in my opinion, the price plus the tip really was worth the experience I had. I’ve never been to an afternoon tea where the sandwiches were unlimited at no extra cost. I’ve also never experienced getting to choose a second type of tea after finishing the first – again at no extra cost!
Before visiting Sketch London, I was unaware that the tea sampling cart was a thing. During my visit I wasn’t offered this service, but I was none the wiser, and honestly this didn’t affect my experience at all.
While it is a nice touch, it’s not something I’ve seen anywhere else and at times when the pink gallery is full and busy I can absolutely see how this would be a pain to manoeuvre. There were constantly people coming and I can only assume they put this service on hold during peak times (it seems it would be annoying for everyone!)
Info/Tips For Visiting Sketch London For Afternoon Tea
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your Afternoon Tea at Sketch
Are reservations needed? Yes! With the growing popularity of “Instagrammable” places, Sketch fills up fast. Everyone wants to see the gallery and everyone wants to post “that” photo on Instagram. If you’re set on experiencing Afternoon Tea at Sketch, book in advance to ensure that you get the time and date you want! You can book through their Official Website.
Want to get photos of the gallery with no or few people there? Book the earliest sitting! While there is no guarantee that it will be nearly empty, you have a much better time of booking the first sitting of the day than later on.
How Much? Afternoon Tea is £59 Per Person + Gratuity (included in bill)
Where? 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
When? Afternoon Tea is 11:30am – 4:30pm 7 days a week
Dress Code? “Art Smart” Interpret that how you will…
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