Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

When an invite landed in my inbox to attend a two-hour Art Deco walking tour of Mayfair followed by afternoon tea at The Dorchester hotel, well I think you can all guess what I said!

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

How many times have you wondered about the stories behind particular places, buildings, doors? I’m drawn in all the time, even when I’m running late! Who lived there? What happened? Did they live happily ever after? Some call me nosey, but I prefer Curious!

Never more has this been the case than in the affluent area of Mayfair. Full of magnificent architecture, boutique shops, hidden green spaces and of course home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Mayfair.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

On a sunny Sunday morning I met our very knowledgeable guide Yannick and a group of bloggers to explore Mayfair from an 1920s and 1930s architectural perspective. The most dreamy way to spend a morning for someone obsessed with building shots.Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

The tour aptly began at the Ballroom Entrance of the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane Hotel. Confusing the hell out of tourists since it opened, as it’s actually on Piccadilly and not Park Lane. It’s a fine example of Art Deco style. Did you know it was also the first hotel in London to have bathrooms in every room? No, neither did I.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

We continued to the disused Down Street tube station which after a short working life as a station from 1907 to 1932 became intrinsic to winning WW2. In 1939 it transformed into the Railway Executive Committee’s bomb-proof headquarters. Prime Minister Winston Churchill used to secretly take refuge in the tunnels during the Blitz too.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

At first glance Carrington House appeared an unassuming block of flats. However, on closer inspection you begin to notice the beautiful architectural nuances. Built in 1936 it housed 74 apartments, it’s embellished with decorative colourful tiles and geometric shapes symbolic of the period. At the time it was the height of sophistication, being the first apartment block with plug sockets for a TV.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The DorchesterArt Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

We also delved into juicy stories from some of the historical icons who once lived and worked in Mayfair through the Jazz Age period. The exclusive area certainly wasn’t short on infamy and scandal. There was Coco Chanel who conducted an affair with the Duke of Westminster in the only freestanding house in Mayfair, built in 1724.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

In 1927 she opened her first boutique around the corner. She never married the besotted Duke despite his numerous marriage proposals saying ‘there are many Duchesses but only one Coco Chanel’.

Discovering the infamous Mitford sisters was a revelation. Yannick regaled the sensational and controversial lives of the six sisters, as we stopped outside a bookshop where one of the sisters worked. One was romantically linked to Hitler, one in love with the leader of the British fascists and one became the Duchess of Devonshire to name just a few of their crazy stories. I see a BBC drama on the horizon!

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Next on our stroll came the private members Lansdowne Club. In the 1920s it was known as Lansdowne House and rented by the famous (erm) shopkeeper Harry Gordon Selfridge. He rented the property for a phenomenal £5,000 and boy did those walls see the most extravagant parties with London’s élite.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Many of Mayfair’s beautiful luxury hotels exhibit the Art Deco characteristics like Claridges and The Beaumont.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

For 1,250 of the Queen’s English pounds you can also stay in the famous Antony Gormley room, a unique suite in The Beaumont Hotel which occupies the interior of a giant semi-abstract sculpture.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

We ended the tour in a secret garden just off Oxford Street. Brown Hart Gardens is a tranquil space where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the busy shopping thoroughfare. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this place!

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

More than ready for refreshments, we headed to The Dorchester to indulge in their floral afternoon tea.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Seated in the elegant and ornate Promenade, it’s the perfect choice to enjoy a classic British treat. With a magnum of Laurent-Perrier brut champagne popped, we began our afternoon tea extravaganza.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

When it came to the tea I opted for the traditional Dorchester Afternoon Blend. There were a variety of blends on offer plus some really interesting floral combinations.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

We were soon tucking into a selection of finger sandwiches all made with artisan bread. The gold star on my vegetarian plate went to the free-range egg, Isle of Mull Cheddar and English watercress on malted grain bread. Let’s just say no egg mayo sandwich will ever live up to this one. The runner-up was the baby cucumber and truffle cream on white bread.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

The traditional fillings were Norfolk Black chicken on sage and onion bread; 21-day aged slow-cooked beef; Lincolnshire onion chutney and wholegrain mustard mayonnaise and oak-smoked salmon with English wasabi and lemon butter on caraway bread.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

In between the savoury and sweet courses we were offered the prettiest looking floral tea palate cleanser.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Warm raisin and plain scones were served with Cornish clotted cream and two homemade jams – strawberry and rhubarb and basil. A fan of herbs used in unusual ways I enjoyed the latter although it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The scones were a little disappointing, the claggy texture meant I only made it through one.

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

The floral theme continued and artfully moved into the seasons, represented by an individual French pastry. Exquisitely presented, I almost felt bad eating them (I did say almost).

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

Winter came in the form of  a spiced parsnip cake, with orange, ginger, honey, cardamom cream and crispy Tanzanian chocolate. A lime sponge with vanilla and verbena mousse, peach crémeux and a lemon and butterfly sorrel characterized autumn. Spring was represented by a lemon and strawberry madeline which was layered with lemon and pistachio crémeux and topped with wild strawberries. Lastly leaving summer to the orange blossom, a chocolate and orange blossom sablé with orange cream and orchid petal. Utterly sublime, all I could think was thank god I only ate one scone!

Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

If you love architecture and can’t resist a sweet treat this really is the perfect way to spend a Sunday.

sima

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post and my tour and afternoon tea were complimentary, however, all views, opinions and photos unless otherwise stated are my own and remain a trademark of the Curious Pixie.

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Art Deco Mayfair and Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester hotel

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8 Comments

  1. 2nd July 2018 / 7:51 am

    Lovely Read Sima. I’m a big fan of the Art Deco as well as the Art Nouveau style so will refer to your post when I’m in London and go and see these places. Hear lots about The Dorchester afternoon tea too, so maybe it’s high time to sample it!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      Author
      3rd July 2018 / 10:45 am

      This tour is brilliant Bejal. Yannick the tour guide does them for different areas of London too.

  2. 2nd July 2018 / 12:02 pm

    It sounds like so much fun and really interesting! The afternoon tea sounds lovely, especially those pastries!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      Author
      3rd July 2018 / 10:44 am

      It’s so worth doing tours even in your own hometown. You learn so much about the places you walk past everyday.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      Author
      3rd July 2018 / 10:40 am

      It really was! You would love this tour Scarlett

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      Author
      4th July 2018 / 11:10 am

      He sure does. Loved it!

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